DANDELION Taraxacum Officinale

Family: Asteraceae

Temperate weed from the Northern Hemisphere, naturalised in New Zealand and Australia, on wasteland, river flats, pastures, grasslands, lawns, and gardens. Self-sows freely. Plants grown in deep, moist soil provide better leaves and roots for use. Grow from seed, pieces of taproot. Drought and frost-resistant.

Parts Used: Leaves gathered throughout the year, roots dug from plants two years old or more in autumn.

Nutritional benefits: Vitamins: A, B, C, D. Minerals: potassium, calcium, sodium phosphorous, iron, nickel, cobalt, tin, copper, zinc.

Medicinal Uses: The bitter sesquiterpene lactone constituents of the herb stimulate, by reflex from the taste receptors, the increased production of bile by the liver. This is then secreted into the intestines where the effect is to a) increase digestive potential and b) increase the loss of metabolic waste through the faeces.

Cardiovascular: (leaves) are used as a diuretic where there is oedema

Gastrointestinal Tract: (roots) stimulate digestive secretions making it suitable for the treatment of, anorexia, constipation, cirrhosis, gallstones, indigestion, hepatitis, toxic exposure, atonic dyspepsia, jaundice, cholecystitis.

Urinary Tract: Leaves can help reduce fluid retention, kidney lithiasis, and enuresis.

Musculoskeletal: laxative qualities remove metabolic waste and help reduce gout and arthritis.

Externally: Leaves, fresh/dried eaten in salads. Root, roasted as a coffee substitute.

Historical Uses: Cleanse ulcers in urinary tracts; skin diseases – scurvy, scrofula, eczema, eruptive skin. White latex is used to treat warts.

Dosage: Infusion of dried herb 4-10g; root, decoction of dried root 2-8g

Precautions: Large amounts of white stem juice can make children vomit, diarrhoea, and palpitations. No other toxicity problems are known for this herb.

Excerpt Materia Medica of Western Herbs for the Southern Hemisphere by Carole Fisher and Gillian Painter