Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Photo by Viridi Green on Unsplash

Common Names: Piss-en-lit (French for “piss-a-bed”. Thanks France?)
Family: Asteraceae / Compositae [1]
Taste: Bitter
Energetics: Cooling and Drying
Height: 2-18″
Location: Throughout U.S. (except in the South)
Habitat: lawns, fields, pastures, roadsides, disturbed areas
Parts edible: all except stalk
Seasonal Availability: For medicinal uses, collect in fall. For food, collect crown and roots in spring or fall.
Physical Description: Biennial or perennial herb. Thick, unbranched taproot. Stem is hollow and contains white, milky juice that is bitter to taste. Basal leaves form a rosette. Leaves can grow as big as 16″ long and 5″ wide. Large, saw-like teeth on leaves. Opens when the sun is out. Up to 300 flowers/petals per head. In later stage, dries into white fluff with seeds attached that disperse when disturbed.
Identification: Look for milky sap, unbranched stem and not super hairy.

Medicinal Uses

– Eliminates metabolic toxins from body.
– Inhibits sodium reabsorption by kidneys
– Won’t deplete potassium like other diuretics since it contains potassium
– Can improve quality of the veins (???) due to the constituent coumarin sculpin.

Herbal Actions

  • Hepatic
  • Cholagogue
  • Choleric
  • Laxative
  • Depuritive
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-fungal (against Candida albicans, namely)
  • Diuretic (roots)
  • Anti-clotting
  • Anti-cancer
  • Anti-tumor

Conditions Treated (General)

  • Poor digestion
  • Hypochlorhydria
  • Heartburn (Ojibwe)
  • Chronic, non-erosive gastritis (Ellingwood, 1985)
  • Atonic dyspepsia (Hyde et al. 1976-79: 1:197)
  • Chronic liver disease (Clapp, 1852: 806)
  • Hepatitis (Kroeber, 1950)
  • Cirrhosis (Faber, 1958)
  • Chronic liver congestion (Hyde, et al, 1976-79: 1:197)
  • Congestive jaundice (Sankaran, 1977)
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (Susnik, 1982)
  • Cholecystitis (Davaatseren, 2013)
  • Constipation (esp. when due to lack of bile)
  • Eczema
  • Acne (namely whiteheads) (Scott, 1990: 56)
  • Chronic skin diseases
  • Canker sores (mucilaginous)
  • Colitis (Chakurski et al., 1981)
  • Chronic yeast (Candida albicans) infections (Duke, 1985:46)
  • Mastitis (dandelion decoction compress) (Yanchi, 1995:64)
  • Muscular rheumatism (British Herbal Pharmacopoia)
  • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) (Namely PMS-H)
  • Edema (esp. due to cardiac problems and hypertension) (Winston, 1999:38)
  • Varicose veins
  • Hemmerhoids (Brooke
  • Estrogen dominance (helps liver to process excess estrogen)
  • Uterine fibroids (McQuade-Crawford, 1996:142)
  • Gout
  • Dizziness (Brooke, 1992:103)
  • Sleepiness (Brooke, 1992:103)
  • Pulmonary Complaints/Chest pain (A Meskwaki remedy)
  • Tuberculosis (Fitzpatrick 1954:531)


lecithin, beta-amyrin, carotenoids (favoxanthin, cryptoxanthi, violaxanthin)

Leaves: phytosterols (beta-sitosterol), triterpenes (beta-amyrin, taraxol, taraxerol); sesquiterpene lactones (for digestion) (eudesmanolides), hydrocinnamic acids (dichroic, chlorogenic, caffeic), organic acide (tartaric acid), coumarins (sculpin, chicoriin), and flavonoids (luteolin, apigenin)

Roots: sesquiterpene lactones (eudesmanolides and germacranolides) an essential oil (containing triterpenes taraxol and taraxerol) taraxaverine; phenolic acids, fatty acids (palmitic, linoleic, stearic, oleic, myristic, auric) phytosterols (stigma sterol, beta-sitosterol), asparagine, inulin (up to 40% in autumn), flavonoids (luteolin, apigenin), fructose (up to 18% in spring, coumarins (sculpin, cichoriin), mucilage, levulin, tannin, pectin, and tyrosinase (enzyme).

Culinary Use

It’s true: you can make dandelion “coffee” (tea) from the root! Click here to check out our article on how to make your own dandelion coffee with it!

Nutritional Information

Nutrients: pro-vitamin A (up to 71,100 iu/cúp of fresh greens), vitamins B1, B2, B3, choline (in root only), C, D, calcium, magnesium, zinc, boron (in leaves), selenium, and silicon. High amount of iron, manganese, phosphorus, sodium and potassium.

For more info on preparing dandelion for culinary use, you can check out our article on this.


  • Proceed with caution if you are allergic to pollen

Anecdotal Evidence

[1] Asahel Clapp, a physician from 1852, said to have used dandelion for his chronic liver disease


[1] The Herbal Academy

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