- Lion's tooth
- Pu gong ying
- Swine snout
- Wild endive
For Patients & Caregivers
Tell your healthcare providers about any dietary supplements you’re taking, such as herbs, vitamins, minerals, and natural or home remedies. This will help them manage your care and keep you safe.
What is it?
Dandelion is a plant with yellow flowers and is related to the daisy family. Its roots, leaves, and flowers have been used in traditional medicine in China, Mexico, and North America to treat different issues.
Dandelion is used to make tea, wine, soups, salads, and can be used as a substitute for coffee. It can also be taken as a supplement as capsules or liquid extracts.
What are the potential uses and benefits?
Dandelion is used to:
- Help with lactation (when your body makes breast milk)
- Treat diabetes
- Build your appetite
- Help increase urination
Dandelion also has other uses that haven’t been studied by doctors to see if they work.
It’s generally safe to use dandelion in food and tea. But talk with your healthcare providers before taking supplements or higher amounts of dandelion. Herbal supplements are stronger than the herbs you would use in cooking. They can also interact with some medications and affect how they work.
For more information, read the “What else do I need to know?” section below.
What are the side effects?
Side effects of using dandelion may include:
- Heartburn (burning feeling in your chest or throat)
- Stomach ache
- Low blood sugar
- Skin rash
- Mild diarrhea (loose or watery bowel movements). This may happen if you take high amounts of dandelion.
What else do I need to know?
- Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re taking water pills. Dandelion can increase the number of times you urinate (pee).
For Healthcare Professionals
Dandelion is related to the daisy family and commonly found worldwide. The flower, leaf and root of this plant are used in traditional medicine for their diuretic, cholagogic, antirheumatic and appetite-stimulating properties (23). In Chinese Medicine, the herb has been used to promote lactation. It is also used to reduce abscesses, especially in the breast and intestines (2).
In vitro and in vivo studies suggest that dandelion has lipid-lowering (13), hepatoprotective (14), antiviral (15) (16), anticoagulant (5), diuretic (10), anti-inflammatory (14), and antioxidant (4) activities. A polyherbal extract containing dandelion was reported effective against acute non-bacterial tonsillitis in children (30).
Dandelion root extract demonstrated anticancer effects against melanoma (3) and leukemia (26), as well as pancreatic (17) and colorectal (25) cancer cell lines. It also showed estrogenic activity. Preclinical studies suggest increased proliferation of hormone-sensitive breast cancer cells as well as increased uterine weight in immature female rats (24). In addition, it can cause allergic reactions and may interact with some prescription drugs. There have been a few case reports of potential benefit in patients with blood cancers (29), but it is unclear whether this was definitively due to dandelion supplementation. Clinical trials are needed to determine the conditions under which dandelion may be safe and effective.
Purported Uses and Benefits
- Stimulate lactation
- Stimulate appetite
- Promote urination
Mechanism of Action
The diuretic activity of dandelion may be a result of its high potassium content (23). In murine models of diet-induced fatty liver disease, dandelion leaf extract exihibited hepatoprotective effects with decreased serum levels of ALT, hepatic TG, and MDA, as well as TNF-alpha and IL-6 expression (14). At the post-transcriptional level, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties were exihibited via decreased activation of procaspase-3 to active caspase-3, and JNK phosphorylation (14). Linoleic acid, phytol and tetracosanol have been identified as bioactive compounds, with hypolipidemic effects occurring via AMP-activated protein kinase activation in human HepG2 cells (13).
Dandelion has been shown to decrease human hepatoma cell line viability by increasing tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-1alpha production (9). Other research has shown that the presence of luteolin and luteolin 7-glucoside in dandelion flower extract exhibits cytotoxic activities against the colon adenocarcinoma cell line (Caco-2) (4). An isolated compound identical to lupeol, a lupane-type triterpene, inhibited cell growth and induced melanogenesis in a mouse melanoma cell line (3).
Sesquiterpene lactones are thought to be the allergenic compounds in dandelion (7).
Hemorrhagic cystitis: In a 33-year-old woman following use of a slimming product containing dandelion. Symptoms resolved after product discontinuation (12).
Toxic blood levels of immunosuppressive agents: In a kidney transplant recipient, that occurred after consumption of a tea which contained dandelion (19). In vitro, dandelion tea extract inhibited CYP3A4, which is used in the metabolism of these drugs (20).
Digital necrosis: In a 56-year-old man with chronic kidney disease, cutaneous manifestations of hyperoxaluria related to high intake of dandelion tea (10–15 cups daily for 6 months) (21).
Contact dermatitis: In a 7-year-old boy, which improved by avoidance of handling plants (7).
Acute liver injury: In a 36-year-old woman after drinking an herbal liver detox tea containing dandelion. Symptoms abated after stopping intake (31).
- Diuretics: Animal and human studies suggest dandelion may have additive effects due to its diuretic activity (10) (23).
- Hypoglycemics: In vitro and in vivo studies suggest dandelion may have additive effects due to its hypoglycemic property (23).
- Cytochrome P450 (CYP) 1A2, 3A4 substrates: In animal and in vitro studies respectively, dandelion inhibited CYP1A2 (28) and CYP3A4 (20) activities, which may result in altered blood levels of substrate drugs. In addition, a case report of toxic blood levels of immunosuppressive agents was attributed to consumption of tea containing dandelion (19).
- UDP-glucuronosyl transferase (UGT) substrates: Animal studies suggest dandelion induces UGT activity (28) and may increase blood levels of substrate drugs.