Dandelion herb review of research studies
Feb 28 2014 by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
 (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion is a member of the sunflower family, native to Europe and naturalized in North America. The name dandelion is a corruption of the French 'dents de lion', meaning "teeth of the lion."

Benefit
Dandelion has been used for diabetes control. Flavonoids and coumaric acid derivatives are found in the dandelion flower. Some people promote dandelion as a weight loss product since it supposedly acts as a diuretic. I don't think there's much benefit is using an herb or a prescription diuretic for weight loss.

Other claims
I have come across the following claims but I need more confirmation to determine if they are true: "Several studies have found evidence to suggest that the dandelion may possess properties associated with discouraging free radicals and preventing cell oxidation. Components have also been found to act as a diuretic, aiding the passing of excess fluid from the body. Associated with these benefits is the potential for increased liver health. This may be due to the raised potential for cell oxidation prevention and lowered lipid peroxidation through consumption."

Int Immunopharmacol. 2014 Feb 15. Protective effect of taraxasterol on acute lung injury induced by lipopolysaccharide in mice. Taraxasterol, a pentacyclic-triterpene isolated from Taraxacum officinale, has been reported to have potent anti-inflammatory properties.

Dandelion extract
Dandelion is sold by raw material suppliers in various extract potencies, including 3% flavonoids and a 20 to 1 extract.

Research study
Inhibition of alpha-glucosidase by aqueous extracts of some potent antidiabetic medicinal herbs.
Prep Biochem Biotechnol. 2005.
Diabetes mellitus is one of the most prevalant diseases of adults. Agents with alpha-glucosidase inhibitory activity have been useful as oral hypoglycemic drugs for the control of hyperglycemia in patients with type 2; noninsulin-dependent, diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Investigation of some medicinal herbs: Urtica dioica, Taraxacum officinale, Viscum album, and Myrtus communis with alpha-glucosidase inhibitor activity was conducted to identify a prophylactic effect for diabetes in vitro. All plants showed differing potent alpha-glucosidase inhibitory activity. However, Myrtus communis strongly inhibited the enzyme. The inhibitory effect of these plants and some common antidiabetic drugs against the enzyme source (baker's yeast, rabbit liver, and small intestine) were also searched. Approximately all inhibitors used in this study showed quite different inhibitory activities, according to alpha-glucosidase origins. Furthermore, subsequent separation of the active material from Myrtus communis showed that only one fraction acted as an a-glucosidase inhibitor.

What do herbalists suggest to diabetic patients in order to improve glycemic control? Evaluation of scientific evidence and potential risks.
Acta Diabetol. 2004.
In the course of 12 continuing education seminars given in different regions of Italy in 2001, we distributed a questionnaire to all the attending herbalists asking information about the herbal remedy and dietary supplement they mainly recommended to subjects who required a "natural" treatment to control glycemia. We distributed 720 questionnaires and we received 685 completed ones. We have compiled a short review on the efficacy and safety of the 10 most frequently advised products for each category. The 10 more frequently suggested herbal remedies were gymnema, psyllium, fenugreek, bilberry, garlic, Chinese ginseng, dandelion, burdock, prickly pear cactus, and bitter melon. The 10 most frequently recommended dietary supplements were biotin, vanadium, chromium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, selenium, alpha-lipoic acid, and fructooligosaccharides. The majority of the products recommended by Italian herbalists may be efficacious in reducing glycemia.

Taraxacum officinale protects against cholecystokinin-induced acute pancreatitis in rats.
World J Gastroenterol. 2005.
Dandelion has been frequently used as a remedy for inflammatory diseases. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of Dandelion on cholecystokinin (CCK)-octapeptide-induced acute pancreatitis in rats. Dandelion significantly decreased the pancreatic weight/body weight ratio in CCK octapeptide-induced acute pancreatitis. Dandelion also increased the pancreatic levels of HSP60 and HSP72. Additionally, the secretion of IL-6 and TNF-alpha decreased in the animals treated with TO. Dandelion may have a protective effect against CCK octapeptide-induced acute pancreatitis.

Characterization of phenolic acids and flavonoids in dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root and herb by high-performance liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization mass spectrometry.
Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2005.
Phenolic acids and flavonoids were extracted from a dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root and herb juice. Among the 43 compounds detected, 5 mono- and dicaffeoylquinic acids, 5 tartaric acid derivatives, 8 flavone and 8 flavonol glycosides were characterized. The predominant compound was chicoric acid (dicaffeoyltartaric acid). Furthermore, several caffeoylquinic acid isomers were distinguished in dandelion extracts for the first time by their specific mass spectral data. The present study reveals that even more quercetin glycosides were found in dandelion than hitherto assumed. The occurrence of di- and triglycosylated flavonoids in particular has not yet been described.

Emails
A co worker from Mexico drinks dandelion juice made from boiling leaves and claims he used to have a severe problem with diabetes and after drinking this juice for several months his blood sugar is normal and he no longer takes any medication. He drinks one 8 ounce glass of this dandelion juice every morning.

I was under the impression that calcium loss is due to consuming too much animal protein. I have been a vegetarian all my life and also never drink milk. My last bone density test was fine, it showed only a very slight decline ... but after all, I am 77 now ... and feeling great! I take1500 to 2000mg calcium every night ... and add dandelion to help against gallstones and kidney stones ... this comes from my European training . Dandelion has always been strong in Austria and Germany ... not like here, where it is considered an unsightly weed!
   Although calcium loss could be partially due to consuming too much animal protein, there are quite a number of factors that are involved in maintaining healthy calcium levels in the body. Some people may tolerate high calcium supplement intake of the amount you mention, but others could increase their risk for kidney stones. I have not seen research on dandelion and kidney stones, but then again there is not that much research on dandelion and herbal medicine.

I've had a low libido / sex drive for the last 9 years straight. I've seen endocrinologists and a slew of local M.D.'s. I've experimented with a few substances, and one baffling substance that exerts a positive effect on my libido, but mostly erection, but still has a noticeable effect on my libido, is dandelion root -- stunning hey ? I do not have any serious liver disease -- I've had liver panels a number of time and all is fine except the Bilirubin, which consistently, time after time comes in mildly elevated -- it now seems clear I have Gilbert's syndrome, which by all account is a benign liver disease. So perhaps there's a link between dandelion root Gilbert's syndrome, however I've not been able to correlate GS with any loss of male libido. Then, researching dandelion root, I found out it's choline rich, and this also looks like a potential explanation as to why erections are stronger / firmer and libido improved as well while on it. Basically, I'm emailing you as I've been trying to figure out why it's got this effect on me, as dandelion root is everything but a libido enhancer -- that being said, without dandelion root I have no libido. These observations on dandelion root have been noted for months with same outcome every time -- I obviously took breaks, and the effect wore off, but when I got back on it, the effects comes back.
   There are many substances in herbs that can dilate blood vessels, or influence certain parts of the brain that have an effect on hormones or neurotransmitters. We have not heard of dandelion root as having an effect on sexuality, but then again much has to be learned about herbs, the research is still so early.

I am currently a student at Freehold High School and am planning to conduct research on the cholinergic effects of dandelion root on the memory retention in planarian worms. For my research, I plan on treating the planaria with an anticholinergic drug, affecting the worms ability to retain learned information, and then seeing if a dandelion root solution treatment will yield positive results that combat the memory loss. However, before I can begin experimentation, I need to determine the effective dosage / concentration of dandelion root solution that will yield positive cholinergic effects. Since little research has been done on my topic area, I was hoping you could give me some advice based on your knowledge of human dosages of dandelion and the root. What is the human dosage required for patients seeking improvement in memory retention?
   A search on Medline in December 2014 did not reveal human studies regarding the role of this plant in memory or mind improvement so it is difficult to know the dosage in humans let alone in worms. You seem to be quite a bright student.

We are a dandelion herb supplier called Herbasin. While all of us as children have blown on the dandelion puffs and watched as the parachutes of seeds took flight for far away destinations, we might not have realized we were looking at one of natures most powerful diuretics. The common dandelion is indeed a powerful herb that can be used as a detoxifier and eliminator. Rich in vital nutrients and minerals as well as vitamins A, B, C and D, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus and sodium, Dandelion is ideal for treating high blood pressure and poor digestion by stimulating the circulation of blood to the entire body. Previously referred to as taraxacin, these constituents are sesquiterpene lactones of the eudesmanolide and germacranolide type, and are unique to Dandelion. Dandelion Root contains approximately 40% inulin, a fiber widely distributed in fruits, vegetables and other plants. Inulin is classified as a food ingredient (not as an additive) and is considered to be safe to eat. In fact, inulin is a significant part of the daily diet of most of the world of population. Plant Origin: Taraxacum officinale. Specification: Dandelion powder, granules, extract: 4:1, 5:1 or 10:1, 3%, 4% Flavone UV.

What would dandelion herbal supplement be good for? Any safety concerns?
    I have not seen human studies with dandelion supplements, so I really don't know what medical conditions this herb is useful for and whether it is safe.