FWD 2 Expanded Commission E: Dandelion root with herb

Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E

Dandelion root with herb

Latin Name: Taraxacum officinale
Pharmacopeial Name: Taraxaci radix cum herba
Other Names: common dandelion, lion's tooth


Dandelion is a perennial herb native throughout the northern hemisphere with many varieties and microspecies, found growing wild in meadows, pastures and waste ground in temperate zones (Grieve, 1979; Leung and Foster, 1996;Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).The material of commerce comes from both wild and cultivated plants, mainly from Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, the former Yugoslavia, and the United Kingdom (BHP,1996;Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).The material used in Indian Ayurvedic and Unani medicines grows in the temperate Himalayas from five to twelve thousand feet and in Tibet, though it is also imported (Kapoor, 1990; Karnick, 1994; Nadkarni, 1976).

Dandelion has a long history of traditional use in many systems of medicine in the treatment of hepatobiliary problems. The root is traditionally used to treat liver and spleen ailments (Bradley, 1992; Leung and Foster, 1996). The genus name Taraxacum is derived from the Greek taraxos (disorder), and akos (remedy). The name dandelion is derived from its original Greek genus name leontodon, meaning lion's teeth. Its use in traditional Arabian medicine is first mentioned in the tenth century C.E. (Grieve, 1979). Dandelion root was formerly official in the United States National Formulary (Leung and Foster, 1996). It is official in the national pharmacopeias of Austria and the Czech Republic, and also in the Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia, the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, the British Herbal Compendium, the German Pharmacopoeial Codex, the German Standard License, and the Commission E (BAnz, 1998; BHP, 1996; Bradley, 1992; Braun, 1991; DAC, 1986; Karnick, 1994; Meyer-Buchtela, 1999; Newall et al., 1996; ÖAB, 1981; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994). ESCOP has also published monographs on the leaf and root (ESCOP, 1997).

Its uses in North American aboriginal medicines are well documented. The Iroquois people prepared infusions and decoctions of the root and herb to treat kidney disease, dropsy, and dermatological problems (Herrick, 1977). The Ojibwe people of Wisconsin prepared an infusion of the root to treat heartburn (Smith, 1932). The Rappahannock people of the eastern United States prepared an infusion of the root as a blood tonic and to treat dyspepsia (Speck et al., 1942). The Bella Coola people of British Columbia prepared a decoction of the roots as an analgesic and to treat stomach pain (Smith, 1929).

In Germany, dandelion root with herb is licensed as a standard medicinal tea to treat biliary disorders, digestive and gastrointestinal complaints, and to stimulate diuresis. Dandelion herb and dandelion root with herb are also approved in the Commission E monographs.Dosage forms, including aqueous decoction and infusion, expressed juice of fresh plant,and hydroalcoholic tincture are used as monopreparations and integral components of about fifty prepared cholagogue, biliary, gastrointestinal, and urological remedies(BAnz, 1998; Bradley, 1992; Braun, 1991; Meyer-Buchtela, 1999; Schilcher, 1997; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994). In the United States,dandelion root and leaf preparations are used as choleretic, diuretic, and tonic components in a wide range of compound dietary supplement and health food products.

The approved modern therapeutic applications for dandelion are supportable based on its long history of use in well established systems of traditional medicine, phytochemical investigations, and pharmacological studies in animals. For a comprehensive review, see Hobbs (1985).

Pharmacopeial grade dandelion leaf must be composed of the dried leaves collected before flowering. It must contain not less than 20% water-soluble extractive, among other quantitative standards. Botanical identity must be confirmed by thin-layer chromatography (TLC) as well as by macroscopic and microscopic examinations (BHP, 1996; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).The ESCOP monograph requires the material to comply with the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia (ESCOP,1997).

Pharmacopeial grade dandelion root must be composed of the dried root and rhizome collected in the autumn when its inulin content is the highest. Histochemical detection of inulin is carried out. The root must contain not less than 40% water-soluble extractive with reference to the oven-dried material, among other quantitative standards. Botanical identity must be confirmed by TLC as well as by macroscopic and microscopic examinations (BHP,1996; DAC, 1986; Karnick, 1994; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).The Austrian Pharmacopoeia additionally requires a bitterness value of not less than 100 (ÖAB, 1981; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).The ESCOP monograph requires the material to comply with both the Austrian Pharmacopoeia and the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia (ESCOP,1997).


Dandelion root with herb consists of the entire plant Taraxacum officinale G. H. Weber ex Wiggers s.l. [Fam. Asteraceae], gathered while flowering, and its preparations in effective dosage. Ingredients include the bitter principles lactucopicrin (taraxacin), triterpenoids, and phytosterol.

Chemistry and Pharmacology

Dandelion root contains sesquiterpene lactones (eudesmanolides and germacranolides); triterpenes (b-amyrin, taraxol, and taraxerol); carbohydrates (inulin 2% in spring and up to 40% in autumn); carotenoids (lutein); fatty acids (myristic); flavonoids (apigenin and luteolin); minerals (potassium 1.84.5%); phenolic acids (caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid); phytosterols (sitosterol, stigmasterol, and taraxasterol); sugars (fructose approx. 18% in spring); vitamins (vitamin A up to 14,000 iu/100g); choline; mucilage (approx. 1.1%); and pectin (Bradley, 1992; Budavari, 1996; ESCOP, 1997; Leung and Foster, 1996; List and Hrhammer, 1979; Newall et al., 1996; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).

The Commission E reported choleretic, diuretic, and appetite-stimulating activities. The British Herbal Compendium reported bitter, cholagogue, and mild laxative actions (Bradley, 1992). The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia reports its action as hepatic (BHP, 1996). The root contains sesquiterpene lactones beneficial to the digestion process and with a mild purgative effect (Bradley, 1992). Oral administration of dandelion extracts had a diuretic effect in rats and mice (Newall et al., 1996). Intravenous injection of fresh dandelion root decoction doubled the volume of bile secretion in dogs (ESCOP, 1997). The choleretic effect of dandelion root has been confirmed (Bradley, 1992).


The Commission E approved the internal use of dandelion root with herb for disturbances in bile flow, stimulation of diuresis, loss of appetite, and dyspepsia. The British Herbal Compendium indicates its use for hepato-biliary disorders, dyspepsia, lack of appetite, and rheumatic conditions (Bradley, 1992). ESCOP indicates its use for restoration of hepatic and biliary function, dyspepsia, and loss of appetite (ESCOP, 1997). The German Standard License for dandelion decoction indicates its use for biliary disorders, gastrointestinal complaints such as a feeling of distension and flatulence, digestive complaints, and to stimulate diuresis (Wichtl and Bisset, 1996).


Obstruction of bile ducts, gallbladder empyema, ileus. In case of gallstones, use only after consultation with a physician.

Side Effects

As with all drugs containing bitter substances, discomfort due to gastric hyperacidity may occur.

Use During Pregnancy and Lactation

No restrictions known.

Interactions with Other Drugs

None known.

Dosage and Administration

Unless otherwise prescribed: 3-4 g of cut or powdered root and herb three times daily.

Decoction: Boil 3-4 g cut or powdered root and herb in 150 ml water.

[Ed. Note: The decoction instructions in the German Standard License monograph are as follows: Boil 1-2 teaspoonfuls (2.4-4.4 g) and strain after 15 minutes, twice daily in the morning and evening.]

Infusion: Steep 1 tablespoon cut root and herb in 150 ml water.

Dry native extract 4:1 (w/w): 0.75-1 g.

Fluidextract 1:1 (g/ml): 3-4 ml.

Tincture: 10-15 drops, three times daily.

[Ed. Note: The Commission E-recommended tincture dosage of 10-15 drops, three times daily, does not correlate closely with the Commission E daily dosage of 3-4 g dried root and herb. No justification can be found in the literature for such a low tincture dosage, in drops as opposed to milliliters. Most herbal references recommend 5-10 ml, three times daily, which relates to the Commission E daily dosage of 3-4 g dried root.]

Succus: 5-10 ml pressed sap from fresh plant.


BAnz. See Bundesanzeiger.

Bradley, P.R. (ed.). 1992. British Herbal Compendium, Vol. 1. Bournemouth: British Herbal Medicine Association. 7375.

Braun, R. (ed.). 1991. Standardzulassungen für Fertigarzneimittel mit 7. Ergnzung. Stuttgart: Deutscher Apotheker Verlag.

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia (BHP). 1996. Exeter, U.K.: British Herbal Medicine Association.

Budavari, S. (ed.). 1996. The Merck Index: An Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs, and Biologicals, 12th ed. Whitehouse Station, N.J.: Merck & Co, Inc.

Bundesanzeiger (BAnz). 1998. Monographien der Kommission E (Zulassungs- und Aufbereitungskommission am BGA für den humanmed. Bereich, phytotherapeutische Therapierichtung und Stoffgruppe). Köln: Bundesgesundheitsamt (BGA).

Deutscher Arzneimittel-Codex (DAC). 1986. 3rd suppl. Stuttgart: Deutscher Apotheker Verlag.

ESCOP. 1997. 'Taraxaci herba' and 'Taraxaci radix.' Monographs on the Medicinal Uses of Plant Drugs. Exeter, U.K.: European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy.

Grieve, M. 1979. A Modern Herbal. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

Herrick, J.W. 1977. Iroquois Medical Botany. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International. 476-478.

Hobbs, C. 1985. Dandelion: A Monograph. Portland, OR: Eclectic Medical Publications.

Kapoor, L.D. 1990. Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants. Boca Raton: CRC Press. 316.

Karnick, C.R. 1994. Pharmacopoeial Standards of Herbal Plants, Vols. 12. Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications. Vol. 1:335-336; Vol. 2:47.

Leung, A.Y. and S. Foster. 1996. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2nd ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

List, P.H. and L. Hörhammer (eds.). 1979. Hagers Handbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, Vol. 6. Berlin-Heidelberg: Springer Verlag. 1621.

Meyer-Buchtela, E. 1999. Tee-RezepturenEin Handbuch für Apotheker und Ärzte. Stuttgart: Deutscher Apotheker Verlag.

Nadkarni, K.M. 1976. Indian Materia Medica. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. 786.

Newall, C.A., L.A. Anderson, J.D. Phillipson. 1996. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press.

Österreichisches Arzneibuch, Vols. 12, 1st suppl. (AB). 1981-1983. Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Staatsdruckerei.

Schilcher, H. 1997. Phytotherapy in Paediatrics: Handbook for Physicians and Pharmacists. Stuttgart: Medpharm Scientific Publishers. 139, 164-165.

Smith, H.H. 1932. Ethnobotany of the Ojibwe Indians. Bulletin of the Public Museum of Milwaukee 4:327-525.

Smith, H.I. 1929. Materia Medica of the Bella Coola and Neigh Tribes of British Columbia. BC: National Museum of Canada Bulletin. 56:47-68.

Speck, F.G., R.B. Hassrick, E.S. Carpenter. 1942. Rappahannock Herbals, Folk-lore and Science of Cures. Proc Del County Inst Sci 10:755.

Wichtl, M. and N.G. Bisset (eds.). 1994. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Stuttgart: Medpharm Scientific Publishers.

Additional Resources

Baba, K., S. Abe, D. Mizuno. 1981. [Antitumor activity of hot water extract of dandelion, Taraxacum officinalecorrelation between antitumor activity and timing of administration] [In Japanese]. Yakugaku Zasshi 101(6):538543.

British Pharmaceutical Codex (BPC). 1949. London: The Pharmaceutical Press.

Broda, B. and E. Andrzejewska. 1966. Choline content in some medicinal plants. Farm Polska 22(3):181-184.

Burrows, S. and J.C.E. Simpson. 1938. The Triterpene Group. Part IV. The triterpene alcohols of Taraxacum root. J Chem Soc 2042-2047.

Chabrol, E. et al. 1931. L'action cholrtique des Compose. CR Soc Biol 108:1100-1102.

Czygan, F.C. 1990. Taraxacum officinale WiggersDer Löwenzahn. Z Phytother 11:99-102.

Deutsches Arzneibuch, 9th ed. (DAB 9). 1986. Stuttgart: Deutscher Apotheker Verlag.

Faber, K. 1958. Der LöwenzahnTaraxacum officinale Weber. Pharmazie 13:423-436.

Hänsel, R., M. Kartarahardja, J.T. Huang, F. Bohlmann. 1980. Sesquiterpenlacton-b-D-glucopyranoside sowie ein neues Eudesmanolid aus Taraxacum officinale. Phytochem 19:857-861.

Harnischfeger, G. and H. Stolze. 1983. Bewährte Pflanzendrogen in Wissenschaft und Medizin. Bad Homburg/Melsungen: Notamed Verlag. 242-249.

Hook, I., A. McGee, M. Henman. 1993. Evaluation of Dandelion for diuretic activity and variation in potassium content. Int J Pharmacog 31:29-34.

Kuusi, T., H. Pyysalo, K. Autio. 1985. The bitterness properties of dandelion II. Chemical investigations. Lebensm Wiss Technol 18:347-349.

McGuffin, M. (ed.). 1998. Herbs of Commerce, 2nd ed. [Draft 3.3]. Bethesda: American Herbal Products Association.

Nadkarni, K.M. 1993. Indian Materia Medica. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. 1195-1196.

Pirtkien, R., E. Surke, G. Seybold. 1960. Comparative studies on the choleretic action of various drugs in the rat. Med Welt 1417-1422.

Popov, A.I. and K.G. Gromov. 1993. Mineral components of dandelion leaves. Vopr Pitan (3):57-58.

Rácz-Kotilla, E., G. Rcz, A. Solomon. 1974. The action of Taraxacum officinale extracts on the body weight and diuresis of laboratory animals. Planta Med 26(3):212-217.

Rácz-Kotilla, E., J. Bodon, Tlgyesi. 1978. Determination of the mineral content of 41 medicinal plant species by chemotaxonomical and biochemical observations. Herba Hung 17:43-54.

Reynolds, J.E.F. (ed.). 1993. Martindale: The Extra Pharmacopoeia, 30th ed. London: The Pharmaceutical Press.

Rudenskaya, G.N. et al. 1998. Taraxalisina serine proteinase from dandelion Taraxacum officinale Webb. s.l. FEBS Lett 437(3):237-240.

Rutherford, P.P. and A.C. Deacon. 1972. Fructofuranosidases from roots of dandelion (Taraxacum officinale Weber). Biochem J 126(3):569573.

. 1972. The mode of action of dandelion root-fructofuranosidases on inulin. Biochem J 129(2):511-512.

Smith, G.W. 1973. Arctic Pharmacognosia. Arctic 26:324-333.

Vogel, H.H. and R. Schaette. 1977. Phytotherapeutische Reflexionen. Betrachtungen ber Silybum marianum (Carduus marianus), Taraxacum officinale, Cichorium intybus, Bryonia alba et dioica, Viscum album und ihre Beziehungen zur Leber. Erfahrungsheilkunde 26:347-355.

Weiss, R.F. 1991. Lehrbuch der Phytotherapie, 7th ed. Stuttgart: Hippokrates Verlag. 162-163.

Williams, C.A., F. Goldstone, J. Greenham. 1996. Flavonoids, cinnamic acids and coumarins from the different tissues and medicinal preparations of Taraxacum officinale. Phytochemistry 42(1):121-127.

This material was adapted from The Complete German Commission E MonographsTherapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. M. Blumenthal, W.R. Busse, A. Goldberg, J. Gruenwald, T. Hall, C.W. Riggins, R.S. Rister (eds.) S. Klein and R.S. Rister (trans.). 1998. Austin: American Botanical Council; Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications.

1) The Overview section is new information.

2) Description, Chemistry and Pharmacology, Uses, Contraindications, Side Effects, Interactions with Other Drugs, and Dosage sections have been drawn from the original work. Additional information has been added in some or all of these sections, as noted with references.

3) The dosage for equivalent preparations (tea infusion, fluidextract, and tincture) have been provided based on the following example:

  • Unless otherwise prescribed: 2 g per day of [powdered, crushed, cut or whole] [plant part]
  • Infusion: 2 g in 150 ml of water
  • Fluidextract 1:1 (g/ml): 2 ml
  • Tincture 1:5 (g/ml): 10 ml

4) The References and Additional Resources sections are new sections. Additional Resources are not cited in the monograph but are included for research purposes.

This monograph, published by the Commission E in 1994, was modified based on new scientific research. It contains more extensive pharmacological and therapeutic information taken directly from the Commission E.

Excerpt from Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs
Copyright 2000 American Botanical Council
Published by Integrative Medicine Communications
Available from the American Botanical Council.

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