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Taraxacum officinale

Updated: Jul 1, 2021


Other names: Dandelion, piss-en-lit, clockflower

Medicinal Actions: diuretic, cholagogue

Qualities: cooling, drying

Affinities: digestive system, liver (root), kidneys/urinary tract (leaf)

Safety issues: none reported/known

This well-known plant (I don't like the term 'weed', as it's somewhat derogatory!) is almost as common in herbalists' prescriptions as it is in the English countryside. Being a member of the Asteraceae, formerly designated the Compistae, has a capitulum inflorescene - in other words, what we commonly think of the "flower head" is actually many tiny mini-flowers all clumped together to give the appearance of one flower. This is a principle characteristic of this group. The name dandelion, or dents de lion, refers to its characteristically deeply-lobed and lacerate/serrate leaf margins.

Both the root and the leaf are used medicinally, but for different reasons. The root is used for conditions affecting the digestive system , e.g. jaundice and constipation. The various bitter-tasting constituents in the root indicate this use. Meanwhile, the leaf has a strong diuretic action (hence on of its apt French names, pissé-en-lit). Dandelion has the benefit of containing higher amounts of potassium, which becomes depleted with standard diuretics such as Diuril, Hygroton, Esidrix, HydroDiuril, Microzide and Bumex.

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