Supplements & Herbs

Taraxacum (dandelion) medicinal effects

Scientific studies show wide-ranging therapeutic potential

Part 3

by copyright © 2015 Healing Cancer Naturally

continued from Part 1 and Part 2 which cover

  • general reviews
  • toxicity studies
  • studies into immune-enhancing effects
  • studies into antitumor and cancer-related activity
  • studies into antioxidant, antimicrobial, antibiotic, antimutagenic, hypolipidemic as well as antiinflammatory effects.

The present page presents — in a condensed form — additional studies (gleaned as before from the official PubMed database) into further medicinal effects and potential applications of dandelion, viz.

  • effects on liver health
  • diabetes
  • physical energy levels (stamina)
  • obesity
  • allergy
  • skin elasticity and hydration
  • osteoclastogenesis effects
  • tissue engineering applications
  • anecdotal and folkloric observations.

Again, many of these studies involve the use of animals regarding which you are asked to kindly refer to these notes.

Taraxacum (dandelion): effects on liver health

Dandelion has a long history of traditional or "folkloric" use in treating liver and kidney disorders including hepatitis. The following studies provide peer-reviewed scientific evidence substantiating dandelion's time-honoured use for liver diseases.

  • Dandelion leaf extract protects against liver injury induced by methionine- and choline-deficient diet in mice.

    This animal study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2013 researched the hepatoprotective activities of Taraxacum leaves against nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (artificially produced in mice by dietary deficiencies).

    For four weeks, four groups of mice were either given the deficient diet or the deficient diet supplemented with 200 or 500 mg per kg of body weight of dandelion leaf extract. Liver function was monitored via a number of biological variables including triglyceride and reduced glutathione levels as well as histopathological examination.

    Supplementing the deficiency diet with dandelion leaf extract was shown to reduce both the clinical signs of fatty liver disease and the levels of several "negative" parameters while increasing the levels of (beneficial) reduced glutathione. The study's observations point to dandelion leaves' beneficial effects being primarily due to the extract's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action.
  • Taraxacum mongolicum extract exhibits a protective effect on hepatocytes and an antiviral effect against hepatitis B virus in animal and human cells.

    This study (printed in Molecular Medicine Reports, 2014) provides scientific backing for dandelion's traditional use as a hepatitis treatment. It successfully validated the plant's potent antiviral properties against human and duck hepatitis B virus as well as its protective effect on chemically damaged liver cells of newborn rats, the latter possibly being due to its ability to ameliorate oxidative stress.
  • Hepatoprotective effect of Taraxacum officinale leaf extract on sodium dichromate-induced liver injury in rats.

    This animal study (Environmental Toxicology, 2014) set out to assess the efficiency of dandelion leaf extract against the effects of a major environmental pollutant which leads to acute liver damage (such as increased lipid peroxidation[1], death of liver cells, and DNA fragmentation).

    Animals pretreated with dandelion leaf extract before the environmental toxin was administered showed a significant reduction in oxidative liver damage. It was concluded that dandelion could be of potential therapeutic use in acute liver diseases.
  • Effect of leaf extracts of Taraxacum officinale on CCl4 induced hepatotoxicity in rats, in vivo study.

    In South East Asia, dandelion has a long tradition in the treatment of liver disorders. This study (Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2014) set out to compare the protective effect of an ethanolic versus an n-hexane extract of dandelion leaves against liver toxicity in rats (artificially induced via carbon tetrachloride).

    The ethanolic dandelion extract was shown to be significantly superior in its protective effect against carbon-tetrachloride-induced liver toxicity than the n-hexane extract, and its protective effect increased in a dose-dependent manner. Histopathological liver examination confirmed these results and pointed to the higher prevalence of certain phytochemicals in the ethanolic dandelion extract being causally involved.
  • Taraxacum official (dandelion) leaf extract alleviates high-fat diet-induced nonalcoholic fatty liver.

    This animal study (Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2013) examined the protective effect of dandelion leaf extract on hepatic steatosis (fatty liver disease) induced by a high-fat diet and the molecular mechanisms behind this effect.

    Groups of mice received either a normal chow diet, a high-fat diet, or a high-fat-diet supplemented with dandelion leaf extract at 2g or 5g per kg of body weight.

    The dandelion-supplemented "high-fat dieters" showed a dramatically reduced hepatic lipid accumulation compared to the non-supplemented high-fat-diet group, and both their total and liver weights were significantly lower than those of the high-fat-diet group.

    Furthermore, the dandelion leaf extract supplementation drastically lowered their total cholesterol, triglyceride, insulin and fasting glucose levels as well as the insulin resistance induced by the high-fat-diet. These and other results of the study indicate that dandelion leaf extract may hold promise for both preventing and treating fatty liver disease triggered by obesity.
  • Antioxidant properties of Taraxacum officinale leaf extract are involved in the protective effect against hepatoxicity induced by acetaminophen in mice.

    The (ab)use of Paracetamol (a popular OTC painkiller and fever reducer) has been linked to cases of hepatitis, cirrhosis, and even liver transplant surgery. The hepatic dysfunction induced by this compound is related to excessive oxidative stress.

    This animal study (published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods in 2012) clearly demonstrated (in mice) the protective activity of dandelion leaf extract against the hepatotoxicity induced by Paracetamol treatment, with potential mechanisms including the scavenger effects against reactive oxygen species and reactive nitrogen species exerted by the phenolic compounds found in the dandelion extract.
  • Chemical composition and hepatoprotective activity of ethanolic root extract of Taraxacum Syriacum Boiss against acetaminophen intoxication in rats.

    A similar animal study as above (but conducted with rats and using dandelion root rather than leaf) was published in the Slovakian medical journal Bratislavské lekárske listy in 2015.

    It investigated the role of an ethanol extract of dandelion root against toxic liver damage (hepatocellular injuries) caused by the oxidative stress generated by Paracetamol.

    Rats whose liver had been damaged by Paracetamol administration showed significantly increased lactate dehydrogenase and catalase activity in their liver tissues. Those pretreated with dandelion root however had values as low as those of the control group. Dandelion pretreatment also improved depleted glutathione levels and prevented pathological changes in the liver tissues.

    The study concluded that the dandelion root extract protected the animals' liver from toxic Paracetamol damage thanks to the antioxidant activity of its phenolic compounds, particularly Carvacrol which analysis showed to represent 6.7 % of the plant's total polyphenolic content. Acting as free radical scavengers, the phenolic compounds decrease or completely inhibit the Paracetamol-induced oxidative stress.
  • Antifibrotic activity of Taraxacum officinale root in carbon tetrachloride-induced liver damage in mice.

    This study (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2010) created liver fibrosis in mice by repeatedly injecting carbon tetrachloride intraperitoneally (i.e. into the lining of their abdomen) during four weeks. Subsequently, the mice received daily injections of a water-ethanol extract of dandelion root for a total of ten days by the same route.

    Among other findings, the mice treated with the dandelion root water-ethanol extract showed a return to normal in their liver's superoxide dismutase activity, testifying to a decrease in oxidative stress. Their livers also showed less fibrinous deposits and a restored microscopic structure.

    The therapeutic effect on the experimentally created liver fibrosis was thought to be mediated by dandelion root extract inactivating stellate cells and increasing the liver's regenerative capabilities.
  • Hepatocurative potential of sesquiterpene lactones of Taraxacum officinale on carbon tetrachloride induced liver toxicity in mice.

    Somewhat similar to the above but focused on acute effects, this study (printed in Acta Biologica Hungarica in 2010) investigated the liver-protective activity of dandelion root extracts (an ethanolic extract and a sesquiterpene-lactones-enriched fraction) against acute toxic liver effects experimentally created via carbon tetrachloride administration.

    The poisoned mice showed elevation of liver markers, lipid peroxidation[1], liver weight and protein as well as significantly lowered reduced glutathione levels. Post-treatment with the dandelion extract and fraction exerted significant protective effects — less liver lesions, lower levels of hepatic enzyme markers, and reduced liver weight, protein and oxidative stress (increase in reduced glutathione).
  • [Phytotherapy with a mixture of dry extracts with hepato-protective effects containing artichoke leaves in the management of functional dyspepsia symptoms].

    This Italian study printed in Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica in 2010 explored the effects of a commercial dried herb mixture which included dandelion root upon patients with indigestion which could not be traced to an organic disease.

    311 outpatients followed for 60 days showed a statistically significant gradual reduction in the severity of their symptoms at day 30 and had experienced further improvement by day 60. Blood parameters revealed various improvements over baseline including cholesterol, LDL and triglyceride numbers.
  • In vitro and in vivo hepatoprotective effects of the aqueous extract from Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) root against alcohol-induced oxidative stress.

    This combined "test tube" and animal study printed in Food and Chemiclal Toxicology (2010) investigated the activity of a hot water and an ethanol extract from dandelion root against alcoholic liver damage in a human liver carcinoma cell line and in mice.

    Ethanol added to the liver cell line led to increased production of reactive oxygen species and a concomitant drastic decrease in cell viability. In the presence of the hot water dandelion extract, no such damage occurred, while the ethanol dandelion extract exerted much less protective effect on the cells.

    The livers of mice fed both ethanol and the aqueous dandelion extract were completely protected from the alcoholic damage suffered by the mice which had to do with just ethanol.

    Compared with the latter, the mice supplemented with the aqueous dandelion root extract showed significant increases in hepatic antioxidant activities including glutathione, pointing to the plant exerting its protective effect against alcohol-induced liver damage by increasing antioxidative activity and decreasing lipid peroxidation[1].
  • TOP1 and 2, polysaccharides from Taraxacum officinale, attenuate CCl(4)-induced hepatic damage through the modulation of NF-kappaB and its regulatory mediators.

    This animal study (printed in Food and Chemical Toxicology in 2010) assessed the inhibitory effect of two polysaccharides occurring in dandelion on hepatitis artificially induced in rats by carbon tetrachloride administration.

    For seven days, one group of test animals was pretreated with the dandelion compounds, after which all groups received a single carbon tetrachloride injection which triggered hepatitis. The chemical induced oxidative stress and inflammation in the livers as evidenced e.g. by elevated serum aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase, inflammatory cell infiltration, and some liver cell death.

    Pretreatment with the two dandelion compounds however increased free radical scavenging activity and reversed or strongly attenuated the symptoms associated with hepatitis including glutathione depletion and inhibited anti-oxidative enzyme activities.
  • Amelioration of oxidative stress by dandelion extract through CYP2E1 suppression against acute liver injury induced by carbon tetrachloride in Sprague-Dawley rats.

    This animal study printed in Phytotherapy Research (2010) is similar to the foregoing, except that it investigated the protective effects of an aqueous extract of whole dandelion leaf against hepatitis induced in the laboratory.

    Five groups of rats serving either as control or treatment groups were treated for one week, during which the treatment groups received dandelion leaf in different concentrations. A single injection of carbon tetrachloride was administered afterwards causing acute liver damage.

    The pretreatment with the water extract of dandelion leaf among other things counteracted the elevated lipid peroxidation[1] and the lowered glutathione content and antioxidative enzyme activities, and down-regulated the elevated tumor necrosis factor-alpha mRNA expressions to the levels of the normal control.

    The protective effect of dandelion leaf extract against liver damage after carbon tetrachloride administration appears to be at least partially owed to the plant's ability to reduce the resultant inflammatory processes and oxidative stress.
  • Protective effects of HV-P411 complex against D-galactosamine-induced hepatotoxicity in rats.[2]

    This animal study (printed in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 2012) examined the ability of an extract mixture made from the seeds of three plants — one of which dandelion — to protect the liver of rats against hepatitis. The herbal extract mix was fed 2 days, 1 day, and 2 hours before, as well as 6 hours after the liver disease was artficially induced by intraperitoneal D-galactosamine injection[2].

    Analysis of a number of biochemical parameters indicated that the herbal mix was able to prevent the liver damage caused by D-galactosamine by exerting antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Determination of chlorophylls in Taraxacum formosanum by high-performance liquid chromatography-diode array detection-mass spectrometry and preparation by column chromatography.

    This highly technical study (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2012) identified a number of previously undetermined chlorophyll pigments in the Chinese herb Taraxacum formosanum. It is included in this listing since the study abstract states that this plant has been shown to protect against liver cancer and liver and lung damage, possibly due to its abundance of carotenoids and chlorophylls.
  • [Blood protein constellation in liver diseases during treatment with Carduus marianus and Taraxacum officinale extracts].

    A German study printed in Medizinische Monatsschrift (1955).

Dandelion (Taraxacum): diabetes and its various complications

Dandelion (Taraxacum): effects on physical energy levels (stamina)

  • The effects of Taraxacum officinale extracts (TOE) supplementation on physical fatigue in mice.

    For this study (African Journal of Traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicines, 2011) four groups of ten male mice were subjected to forced swimming tests.

    During a six-week period, three groups were supplemented with either low-, middle- or high-dose dandelion extracts (at 10, 30 or 100 mg per kg of body weight, respectively), while the control group was given corresponding amounts of distilled water.

    Measurement of the animals' forced swimming capacity and blood biochemical parameters showed dandelion extracts to exert an anti-fatigue effect, increasing swimming capacity, delaying the lowering of blood sugar levels, and preventing the increase in lactate and triglyceride levels.
    The full text of this study is made available for free.

    Also compare the study Effects of Taraxacum officinale on fatigue and immunological parameters in mice" which arrived at similar conclusions.

Dandelion (Taraxacum): effects on obesity

  • Reduction of adipogenesis and lipid accumulation by Taraxacum officinale (Dandelion) extracts in 3T3L1 adipocytes[4]: an in vitro study.

    This study published in Phytotherapy Research (2014) investigated the ability of three dandelion preparations — one leaf extract and two root extracts — to inhibit the transformation (differentiation) of fat precursor cells into fat cells proper.

    Among other findings, the dandelion extracts regulated the expression of various genes important in the control of adipogenesis[4], decreased the accumulation of lipids and triglycerides, and were non-toxic in the tested concentrations. It was concluded that they held out promise for the treatment of obesity.

Dandelion (Taraxacum): osteoclastogenesis[5] effects

  • Screening of Korean medicinal plants for possible osteoclastogenesis effects in vitro.

    This cell culture study out of Korea (printed in Genes & Nutrition in 2008) screened 222 methanol extracts of traditional medicinal plants for molecules able to inhibit or stimulate osteoclast[5] differentiation in macrophages derived from the bone marrow of mice. Six samples, among them Korean dandelion (Taraxacum platycarpum[6]), showed inhibitory effects upon osteoclast differentiation.

    This study is made available in its entirety for free.

Dandelion (Taraxacum): effects on allergy

Dandelion (Taraxacum): tissue engineering applications

  • Polyphenolic extracts of edible flowers incorporated onto atelocollagen matrices and their effect on cell viability.[8]

    For this study, published in Molecules in 2013, phenolic extracts of four plants including dandelion were incorporated into thin layers of collagen, using different concentrations. Human keratinocytes[9] were seeded onto these films and their proliferation (cell viability) was observed.

    A correlation between cell viability and concentration of the plant polyphenols was discovered, making atelocollagen films primed with these phenols potential candidates for use in tissue engineering applications.
    The full text of this study is available for free.

Dandelion (Taraxacum): effects on skin

  • An open, controlled, prospective pilot study conducted at a dermatological clinic in Germany (Universitäts-Hautklinik Mannheim) showed possibly beneficial effects of dandelion and stinging nettle juice taken by mouth on both hydration and elasticity of the skin.

    Ten healthy women used a basic skin cream and took organic stinging nettle and dandelion juice (Schoenenberger) over a period of six weeks, while the same-size control group used the cream only.

    Defined areas of face and forearm were used to assess various skin parameters before, during and after the study, and participants were asked to fill out questionnaires for their subjective evaluation.

    At the end of the study, the herbal treatment group showed significantly improved skin hydration and elasticity, and subjective evaluation confirmed the improvement (while the control group apparently reported no changes).

    This study was printed in Aktuelle Dermatologie in 2001 (see "Evaluation of Effects of Skin Parameters Through Oral Treatment with Stinging Nettle and Dandelion Extracts").

    Please note that the participants used both dandelion AND stinging nettle, another "super herb" available to next to anyone, compare Stinging nettle medicinal effects: scientific research studies show wide-ranging therapeutic potential.

Dr. Johanna Budwig on the dandelion

In a cookbook written for the homemaker, Dr. Budwig writes that dandelion is the most important herb in terms of health benefits (more in the Budwig FAQ Question 67 (scroll to Answer no. 5).

Dandelion (Taraxacum): anecdotal and folkloric observations

  • The book "Die Heilkunst von Morgen" [The Healing Arts of Tomorrow] by Erika Herbst includes the short report of a woman who had had stomach issues even as a child (constant heartburn). As an adult, she moved to the countryside where she began eating three to five dandelion leaves every day. She had been healed of her indigestion ever since.[10]
  • According to Austrian herbalist Maria Treben[11], dandelion stems can dramatically lower blood sugar levels. She advises to take a four-week course of treatment in springtime when dandelions are in full bloom.

    One plucks the stems including the flower heads, washes them and eats ten to fifteen stems a day (the discarded flower heads can be used by nondiabetics to make a delicious mock dandelion honey). Compare above study on dandelion's effect on diabetes which found that dandelion extracts stimulated the secretion of insulin.

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1 Lipid peroxidation occurs when so-called free radicals steal electrons from the lipids — particularly the polyunsaturated fatty acids — cell membranes are mostly made of, which results in damage to the cell.

2 Galactosamine hydrochloride is liver-damaging in some animals including rats and mice and is used in animal experimentation to stimulate liver damage.

3 INS-1, an insulinoma cell line, is used in pancreatic beta cell research. (insulinoma = pancreatic tumour derived from beta cells which secretes insulin)

4 3T3-L1 is a murine cell line widely used to study the process of cellular differentiation by which preadipocytes change into adipocytes (adipogenesis). Adipocytes, aka lipocytes or fat cells, store energy as fat and are the major type of cell found in fatty (adipose) tissue. Pre-adipocytes are undifferentiated precursor cells that can transform into adipocytes.

5 Osteoclasts are bone cells to which bone resorption is generally attributed. Osteoclastogenesis is the development (differentiation) of osteoclasts from macrophages. The above study results could have implications for osteoporosis.

6 Taraxacum platycarpum is a dandelion species found in Korea and some other countries such as Japan.

7 RBL-2H3 is a histamine-releasing cell line used in allergy and related research.

8 Atelocollagen is a water-soluble type of collagen used for culturing cells and other purposes.

9 Keratinocyte: a type of skin cell predominantly found in the outermost layer of the skin.

10 Compare above study "Phytotherapy with a mixture of dry extracts with hepato-protective effects containing artichoke leaves in the management of functional dyspepsia symptoms".

11 Compare Maria Treben's "miracle" herbal cancer cures & treatment.

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