May 23 2022

Medicinal uses of Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Introduction     

Diente de León &copy Medizzine

Dandelion is allergenic and can cause severe health problems

One issue to keep in mind with all medicinal plants

An observation about a case of severe hepatitis due to the use of material from Greater Celandine reminds us that plant-derived products may involve more risk than people believe. The widespread use of plants for food has reinforced the idea that eating plants promotes health.

With the development of organic chemistry in the nineteenth century has been possible for the first time purify and identify the substances pharmacologically active from plants and subsequently synthesize similar compounds with a more powerful action.

Activity, safety and composition of these substances can be controlled in the same way as purely synthetic substances. However, there are people who believe that traditional plants are better and safer than modern pharmaceuticals. Both qualitative and quantitative composition of these plant derivatives are obtained from what we call alternative medicine that escapes the scope of the legislation established to protect the health of citizens and ensure the effectiveness and safety of the products that are addressed to treat diseases (excerpted from J. van Noordwijk. Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2002 Jan 19, 146 (3) :100-2.).

Distribution     

The use of dandelion is widely distributed throughout the world, as befits its presence in almost all the floras of the globe. As a result, the Taraxacum officinale is present in the majority of traditional medicines, such as Chinese, Arabic, Native American medicine and, of course, the various Eurasian cultures.

Botanical features     

Dandelion is an annual and perennial, maximum height not exceeding 50 cm, whose scientific name is Taraxacum officinale and is classified as liguliflora composed of the family Asteraceae. Share the genus Taraxacum with a large number of other plants, with which it has common applications. Is believed to come from Europe but is widely distributed throughout the world.

The plant is very variable in its expression and is divided into several secondary species. The leaves are sharply toothed. The flower stems arise from a rosette formed by the leaves, are hollow and finished on a bright yellow floral chapter. When cutting the stem, the plant exudes a sap latescente.

Plant flowering occurs throughout the year and lacks a specific era collection.

Although it is not difficult to find in almost any place, grows abundantly in uncultivated land, especially where other plants grow. Dandelion is commonly found on the roads and trails, pastures and fallow. It is considered a weed.

Composition     

The plant contains more than 40 components identified

It was possible to isolate various flavonoids and coumarin derivatives. Among those, at least eight flavones and flavone glycosides, emphasizing three flavonoid glycosides: luteolin 7-glucoside and two luteolin 7-diglucosides, which have been isolated from the flowers and leaves with free luteolin and crisoeriol.

Hydroxycinnamic, chicory, chlorogenic and monocaffeil-tartaric acids have been found in all plant organs. The largest group corresponds to various derivatives of tartaric acid, mono and specially dicaffeiltartaric acid (chicory), the main component.

From the root has been isolated acid 14-O-beta-D-glucosyl-11,13-dihydro-taraxinic acid and 14-O-beta-D-glucosyl-taraxinic. Also have been isolated from the same organ five sesquiterpene lactones, together with compounds benzyl glucoside taraxinic , dihydroconiferin, syringin and dihydrosyringin. Three other lactones also have been identified.

An enzyme of the type serine proteinase, the taraxalisina of the subtilisin family, has also been identified in the plant.

Taraxacum contains sterols, sitosterol being the most abundant in the free state. Free esters 4,4-dimethyl sterol type are most abundant free forms, especially during the winter. Also have been identified in the root of the plant several fructofuranosidases.

Traditional applications     

Several studies indicate the potential clinical applications of plant components or whole. Have been published observations of the possible influence of dandelion on growth of tumor cells in experimental animals. In other cases, have been analyzed in vitro anti-inflammatory action of taraxacum but fails to identify the individual component responsible. Probably the plant possesses a certain power antioxidant that scientists attribute to the phenolic groups.

Recently has been studied the action of aqueous extracts of dandelion on alpha-glucosidase inhibition in vitro, with preliminary positive result, which could be considered a first step toward an eventual application in diabetic patients. Acarbose, a diabetes drug has the same property.

It appears that the aqueous extract of Taraxacum might protect laboratory animals against pancreatitis induced by cholecystokinin.

Taraxacum infusion stimulates in vitro the production of bifidobacteria. It is not clear that the case of human bifidobacteria.

In experiments with cell lines, taraxacum appeared to induce cytotoxicity through tumor necrosis factor. The same phenomenon has been observed in vivo against experimental rats astrocytoma. Also been described antiallergic actions on LTB4 receptors (other than LTD4 on which act montelukast and zafirlukast).

Along with a remarkable accumulation of in vitro or laboratory animal tests, there is a lack of studies in patients with minimally acceptable quality to allow people support the use of the plant or derived from it.

Popular tradition attributed to plant diuretic properties and as stimulant for the secretion and function of the gallbladder, so it has been used for treating conditions of this organ and the liver, but also as a tonic, especially used in alcohol hangover. It has also been used in diseases of female organs, uterus and breast cancer mainly.

In some parts of Eurpoa is used to treat warts.

Dandelion is applied as a tincture, solutions and extracts.

With most tender leaves are prepared salads "cleansing" with which it is customary to cures in spring.

More by tradition than hard clinical arguments, dandelion is used in Eastern Europe for the treatment of chronic colitis (irritable bowel syndrome, possibly) along with other herbs.

Adverse reactions     

Have been described contact dermatitis caused by taraxacum. It was attributed to 1'-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside taraxinic acid.

Dandelion pollen is allergenic and often gives asthma-like reactions, urticaria, rhinitis and conjunctivitis. Sensitization to Taraxacum may be crossed with other plants.

There have been reports of serious parasite infestation by Fasciola hepatica in people who ingested dandelion, even in areas of low risk of infection, ie outside of the grazing areas, which should be taken into account by potential consumers of the plant.

Date page update: January 9, 2009.

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