The common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is known to most of us as a "weed", but has been used medicinally, as well as for food, for over 1000 years. Both the leaves and the root are used medicinally, and even the flowers are used to make wine. The constituents of dandelion include triterpenes (taraxerol, taraxasterol etc), sterols, inulin (25%), sugars, vitamins and other compounds. Dandelion leaves contain more vitamin A, by weight, than carrots.
The sterol components of dandelion are very similar to the sterol compounds synthesized by our adrenal glands. It is for this reason that they have been used to support this gland. Dandelion root, leaves, or whole herb can be extracted and dried into 4:1 or 5:1 powdered extracts.
Because of their diverse chemistry, dandelion roots and leaves find themselves in a number of different types of products supporting various organ systems. As a diuretic (dandelion has been called wet-a-bed) it is often used for the kidney, bladder and even in some weight loss products. Dandelion has been reported to have hypoglycemic (sugar lowering) effects. This is probably due to the high amount of inulin (not insulin!), made of fructose chains, which may buffer the glucose levels in the blood.
Dandelion root and its extracts have been used extensively as a liver tonic, to promote bile, and through its liver "cleansing" actions, various skin conditions. The leaf portion is "Approved" by the German Commission E for loss of appetite and indigestion, while the root portion is "Approved" by the Commission E for disturbances of bile flow, as a diuretic and for indigestion.
Dandelion stimulates the flow of bile and is a liver and digestive tonic. Dandelion extracts are said to also benefit the spleen and improve the health of the pancreas. It is important to note that this herb has been shown to uniformly remedy chronic liver congestion, prevent liver cell death from many toxins and support hepatic regeneration.
The leaves and roots of the dandelion are high in 'bitters' (sesquiterpene lactones) and tannins. These bitters are responsible for dandelion's effectiveness against digestive disorders such as IBS, stimulating the functions of the stomach, liver and bile. They also increase urine production, help remove toxins and metabolic waste, and increase production of digestive enzymes which help to calm indigestion and other symptoms of IBS.
Dandelion, owing to its anti-inflammatory properties, has the ability to arrest or slow liver disease and promote healing. It also stimulates the liver's production of Glutathione S-transferase (GST) — an important antioxidant that also helps cleanse the blood.
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