Although dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is most commonly used as a salad ingredient, this herb also has other potential uses. Unfortunately, studies on the effectiveness and safety of dandelion are conflicting and strong recommendations cannot be made.
However, traditional uses include:
- Detoxifying liver and kidneys
- Preventing and dissolving gallstones
- Lowering hypertension
Dandelion is most commonly used as a food. The leaves are used in salads and teas, while the roots are sometimes used as a coffee substitute.
Dandelion grows easily, and can often be seen along roads and across meadows in the United States and Europe. The flowers are bright yellow and bloom throughout most of the year.
Generally, dandelion is regarded as very safe. However, people who should not use dandelion include those with:
Bile duct obstruction
Ulcers or gastritis
Fluid or water retention
(Information source: The American Pharmaceutical Association's Practical Guide to Natural Medicines by Andrea Peirce, published by William Morrow and Company).
(Updated by Birgit Ottermann, Health24, April 2010)