What Is Dandelion?

Dandelion dried root, tea, capsules, and tictures

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a plant related to the daisy family. It is often thought of as a weed, but you can enjoy its roots, leaves, and flowers for different uses. Dandelion has been used in traditional medicine in China, Mexico, and North America.

Dandelion is used to make tea, wine, soups, and salads. The root itself is sometimes roasted to make a caffeine-free coffee. It can also be taken as a supplement in capsule or liquid extracts.

This article takes a closer look at the potential uses of dandelion. It also covers risks and side effects associated with its use.

Dietary supplements are not regulated in the United States, meaning the FDA does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement that has been tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLabs, or NSF. However, even if supplements are third-party tested, that doesn't mean that they are necessarily safe for all or effective in general. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and to check in about any potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Supplement Facts

Active Ingredient(s): Araxacin, Taraxacerin, Inulin, Levulin

Alternate Name(s): Puffball, Lion's tooth, Pu gong ying, Swine snout, Wild endive

Legal Status: Identified as an herbal supplement by the FDA (1972)

Suggested Dose: Dose varies depending on preparation; no suggested standard dose

Safety Considerations: Can interact with certain medications and herbal supplements

Uses of Dandelion

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian nutritionist, pharmacist, or doctor. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent a disease.

Scientists have studied but not necessarily proven dandelion's impact on different areas of health. Please note that the data is limited and is an area that needs future research.

Diuretic

Dandelions can act as a diuretic. Diuretics cause you to produce more urine to help remove excess liquid from your body.

In a pilot study, 15 individuals ate 8 milliliters (mL) of dandelion extract three times a day to see if there was an increase in urine frequency and amount. There was a significant (p < 0.05) increase in the amount of urine after the first and second dose. Note that this study was not a randomized control trial, included a small sample size, and the researchers encouraged more research.

If you take prescription diuretics or herbal supplements that make you urinate more, you could risk getting an electrolyte imbalance. This means your body does not have the right amounts of minerals. Electrolyte imbalance can lead to serious health problems. Talk with your health care provider before using dandelion extract for this purpose.

Other Suggested Uses of Dandelion

While dandelion has been studied in lab and animal studies for the below conditions, there is NOT enough evidence to support its use for any of these conditions. More research is needed before using dandelion in the below diseases. Please discuss your use of dandelion with your registered dietitian nutritionist, pharmacist, or healthcare practitioner.

Dandelion has been studied for its use in:

What are the Side Effects of Taking Dandelion?

Dandelion is generally considered safe and well-tolerated in adults if taken in moderation, but some side effects are noted below.

Common Side Effects

If you experience any of these side effects upon taking dandelion, please stop using it and consult with your healthcare provider:

Precautions

Avoid taking dandelion if you are allergic to any of the following plants:

  • Ragweed
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Marigold
  • Chamomile
  • Feverfew
  • Yarrow
  • Plants in the Asteraceae family (such as sunflowers and daisies)

People who are allergic to dandelion may experience rash, watery eyes, and other allergy symptoms. Dandelion also contains iodine and latex, so avoid it if you have allergies to either of these items.

People who are pregnant or lactating and children should not take dandelion remedies due to the lack of research into their long-term safety. Dandelion is thought to be a galactagogue (a substance that may increase milk production); however, no significant research supports its use and should be discussed with your lactation consultant or health care provider.

Dosage: How Much Dandelion Should I Take?

Disclaimer

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage is appropriate for your individual needs.

There are no guidelines for the appropriate use or amount of dandelion. There are no standard doses of dandelion, and there are many different ways (e.g., fresh, powder, tea, extract) to consume it. More research is needed.

Dandelion dried root
Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

What Happens if I Take Too Much Dandelion?

As a rule of thumb, never take more than the manufacturer's recommended dosage. If you experience side effects of any sort, stop taking dandelion and call your healthcare provider. There is no current upper limit or recommended intake due to a lack of research.

Interactions

Dandelion can interact with certain drugs. It may affect how the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream, broken down by the liver, or cleared from the body in urine. Speak with your healthcare provider if you are taking a dandelion remedy along with any of the following drugs:

  • Antibiotics like Cipro (ciprofloxacin) and Penetrex (enoxacin)
  • Antidepressants like Elavil (amitriptyline)
  • Antipsychotics like lithium and Haldol (haloperidol)
  • Diuretics like Lasix (furosemide)
  • Medications that cause hyperkalemia (too much potassium) like angiotensin receptor blockers ARBs and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Estrogen-based contraceptives
  • Statin drugs like Mevacor (lovastatin) and Lipitor (atorvastatin)

Don't use dandelion with other herbal supplements that can also affect blood-clotting, such as:

  • Angelica (dong quai)
  • Capsicum
  • Clove
  • Danshen
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Ginkgo
  • Horse chestnut
  • Panax ginseng
  • Poplar
  • Red clover
  • Saw palmetto
  • Turmeric
  • Willow

Dandelion can be high in vitamin K. If you are taking anticoagulant medication (blood-thinning drug) such as Jantoven (warfarin), eating consistent amounts (not too much or too little) of vitamin K is very important. Newer non-vitamin K oral anticoagulants often do not interact with vitamin K. If you are taking an anticoagulant, check with your registered dietitian nutritionist or health care provider before making any changes in your diet.

It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included. Please review supplement labels with your healthcare provider to discuss any potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications.

How to Store Dandelion

Wash the dandelion before storing and use. To keep your dandelion harvest fresh, store it in plastic bags in the refrigerator or wrapped in a lightly dampened towel. Store in a cool, dry place. For supplements, discard when recommended on the packaging.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the side effects of dandelion?

    Side effects can include heartburn, diarrhea, skin irritation, and an upset stomach. It is possible to be allergic to dandelion. Symptoms of a dandelion allergy include rash, watery eyes, and other nasal allergy symptoms. 

  • Can I take dandelion if I am taking a diuretic?

    If you also take prescription diuretics or herbal supplements that make you urinate more, you could risk getting an electrolyte imbalance. This means your body does not have the right amounts of minerals. Electrolyte imbalance can lead to serious health problems, so please talk with your health care provider before using dandelion.

  • Is dandelion safe for pregnant people or children?

    Pregnant people, lactating people, and children should avoid dandelion remedies due to the lack of research into their long-term safety.

Sources of Dandelion & What to Look For

See below for more information on food and supplement sources of dandelion.

Dandelion as a Food Source

You can enjoy the dandelion plant's roots, leaves, and flowers.

Nutritionally, a cup of cooked dandelion greens has almost 150 milligrams of calcium and is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K.

Just because a remedy is thought to be "natural" does not necessarily mean that it's safe. Some "wild-crafted" dandelion products may have been grown in areas contaminated with heavy metals (mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium) or other pollutants. Choose supplements produced in labs and certified by third-party authorities like the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), ConsumerLab, or NSF International.

Dandelion easily absorbs pesticides and heavy metals such as:

  • Lead
  • Nickel
  • Copper
  • Cadmium

It also absorbs other harmful substances from the environment. It is usually not a good idea to eat wild dandelion if the purity of the soil, water, and air is unknown, such as near:

  • Roads
  • Driveways
  • Septic tanks
  • Pools
  • Air conditioning units
  • Barbecue grills

Dandelion Supplements

Dandelion is often sold as a powder. It's also available in capsule, tablet, and liquid form. Dandelion root supplements are available in drugstores and vitamin supplement stores. When buying a supplement, don't be fooled by claims that it can cure or treat any specific disease. Under the FDA labeling laws, it is illegal to make such claims, which are rarely supported by clinical evidence.

Summary

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a plant related to the daisy family. You can enjoy the roots, leaves, and flowers of this flower, traditionally viewed as a weed. More research is needed to know the health benefits and side effects.

Originally written by
Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong

Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.

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