Dandelion, or Taraxacum officinale, is a plant that is native to Europe but found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. In many part of the world, it’s consumed as food (dandelion wine?) and also has a prominent role in herbal therapy. In traditional Chinese medicine, among others, dandelion is used to support liver health, nourish bones and joints, and stimulate urinary function to promote cleansing. But, let’s face it — plenty of worthless weeds were once used as cure-all tonics, right? Well, yes, but hold on a second. Modern research has conducted several inquiries into dandelion and actually found that its reputation is with merit, as the plant contains many health-promoting phytochemicals.  Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of dandelion leaf.
Does Dandelion Leaf Contain Nutrients?
They do more than just look good, many flowering plants offer significant biological potency. Nutritionally, dandelion contains calcium, potassium, zinc, and vitamins A, B, C, and D. But, it’s real power extends much deeper. Clinical inquiries have found that dandelion is full of natural, health-promoting compounds including alkaloids, steroids, and triterpenoids. High concentrations of kynurenic acid, which supports the digestive system, are also found not only in the leaves, but the entire plant.  Dandelion leaf is loaded with beneficial antioxidants that produce a range of positive effects for human health, including protection for the cardiovascular system.  
Does Dandelion Leaf Offer Liver Support?
Among the primary benefits of dandelion leaf is the way it supports liver function. Earlier this year, researchers found that dandelion leaf supplementation promoted healthy lipid profiles, reduced insulin resistance, and suppressed fat accumulation in the livers of mice. These benefits are likely due to its antioxidant content and ability to calm systemic redness and irritation. 
Oddly enough, some research even suggests that dandelion leaf may protect the liver from acetaminophen toxicity. Now, let’s be clear — if you’re suffering from acetaminophen toxicity you need to get yourself to some professional help, it’s not the time to self-diagnose via the internet. But, for the sake of conversation… acetaminophen can produce oxidative stress which is especially hard on the liver. Antioxidants like those within dandelion seem to be among the best alternative therapies. 
What Are Some Other Benefits of Dandelion Leaf?
The pluses that allow dandelion to benefit the liver — its astounding antioxidant activity and its ability to resist systemic redness and irritation — also benefit other parts of the body. 
- Normal bile production supports efficient digestion which utilizes nutrients and purges toxins.
- Encourages fat metabolization, which is an excellent forward to achieving normal lipid levels.
- Helps to purify the blood.
- Promotes normal blood sugar levels.
Supplementing With Dandelion Leaf
Dandelion leaf is available in several forms. A number of retailers offer dried, loose leaf to use as a tea. Other vendors have encapsulated it and offer pills. Regardless of which you opt for, I recommend only purchasing dandelion that is organic and produced by a company with a history and reputation of offering high-quality products. Dandelion leaf is common among some of the bargain vitamin manufacturers who are simply promoting a product that fulfills a checklist requirement on the inventory sheet and very little else.
If you have used dandelion leaf before, please leave a comment below and share your experience with us!
by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
- González-Castejón M, Visioli F, Rodriguez-Casado A. Diverse biological activities of dandelion. Nutr Rev. 2012 Sep;70(9):534-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2012.00509.x. Epub 2012 Aug 17.
- Leu YL, Shi LS, Damu AG. Chemical constituents of Taraxacum formosanum. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2003 May;51(5):599-601.
- Turski MP, Turska M, Zgrajka W, Bartnik M, Kocki T, Turski WA. Distribution, synthesis, and absorption of kynurenic acid in plants. Planta Med. 2011 May;77(8):858-64. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1250604. Epub 2010 Dec 14.
- Lizarazo K, Fernández-Marín B, Becerril JM, García-Plazaola JI. Ageing and irradiance enhance vitamin E content in green edible tissues from crop plants. J Sci Food Agric. 2010 Sep;90(12):1994-9. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.4043.
- Choi UK, Lee OH, Yim JH, Cho CW, Rhee YK, Lim SI, Kim YC. Hypolipidemic and antioxidant effects of dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root and leaf on cholesterol-fed rabbits. Int J Mol Sci. 2010 Jan 6;11(1):67-78. doi: 10.3390/ijms11010067.
- Davaatseren M, Hur HJ, Yang HJ, Hwang JT, Park JH, Kim HJ, Kim MS, Kim MJ, Kwon DY, Sung MJ. Dandelion leaf extract protects against liver injury induced by methionine- and choline-deficient diet in mice. J Med Food. 2013 Jan;16(1):26-33. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2012.2226. Epub 2012 Dec 20.
- Colle D, Arantes LP, Gubert P, da Luz SC, Athayde ML, Teixeira Rocha JB, Soares FA. Antioxidant properties of Taraxacum officinale leaf extract are involved in the protective effect against hepatoxicity induced by acetaminophen in mice. J Med Food. 2012 Jun;15(6):549-56. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2011.0282. Epub 2012 Mar 16.
- Koh YJ, Cha DS, Ko JS, Park HJ, Choi HD. Anti-inflammatory effect of Taraxacum officinale leaves on lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammatory responses in RAW 264.7 cells. J Med Food. 2010 Aug;13(4):870-8. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2009.1249.