Part used: Root, leaves, sometimes flowers and/or latex.
Herbal action: Hepatic, alterative, diuretic, tonic, stomachic, aperient, deobstruent. In China the seeds are used as an antibiotic.
Contraindications and cautions: Contraindicated if closure or obstruction of the biliary duct, gallbladder empyema, or ileus.
Medicinal uses: Dandelion leaves have diuretic action better than the root. They also deliver a good supply of potassium, useful with a diuretic. Dandelion root is known to be an excellent blood cleanser, specifically for the liver, as well as a mild laxative. The roots are slightly more diuretic when harvested in the spring and more for the liver when harvested in the fall.
The latex has also been shown to be very effective for removing warts and is presently under study for its effects on eczema and psoriasis. The Chinese use the seeds as a strong antibiotic in the cases of lung infections.
Dandelion is a slow, but excellent liver cleanser. It is not used for fast dramatic liver action, but as a constant slow liver cleanser. Drinking a cup of dandelion ‘coffee’ once a day for 1 – 12 months can do wonders for the liver. It will also tone up the hepatic structure, remove liver ‘stagnation’, improve digestion decongest the portal system and remove problems resulting from ‘heat’ rising to the skin.
Dandelion also works on the lymphatic system, especially removing damp heat. The addition of cream of tartar to its decoction will render it more diuretic and laxative. When the stomach or bowels are irritable, it should not be employed. In Chinese medicine, it is considered one of the best remedies for reducing ‘liver fire’ and ‘fire poison’ (abscesses, boils, sores etc.). It is most often used for slow lingering heat, not fast hot heat. Michael Moore says it is specific for skin conditions, wheezy lungs, colon congestion and “leaky gut syndrome.”