Taraxacum officinale. N.O. Compositae.
The name of this almost ubiquitous plant is a corruption of the French “dents de lion” (lion’s teeth), and refers to the coarse teeth edging the leaf.
Features ► The stem is slender, hollow, and contains the familiar milk-like juice. The long thin leaves, which are broader towards the top than at the base, are tooth-edged in a slightly backward direction. Each of the petals, of which only the central portion of the yellow, daisy-like flower is wholly composed, are strap-like in form. The roots are long, dark brown, and bitter to the taste, although not unpleasantly so.
Part used ► Roots and leaves.
Action ► Diuretic, tonic, and slightly aperient.
While a Dandelion decoction of 1 ounce to 1 pint (reduced from 1 1/2 pints) may be taken alone and drunk freely with benefit, the properties of the herb are better utilised in combination with other agents. The root is a constituent of many prescriptions for dropsical and urinary complaints, and in atonic dyspepsia and rheumatism. Contrary to widely-held belief.
Dandelion root would seem to have little or no action on the liver.
The most popular use for Dandelion root, after roasting and grinding, is as a substitute for coffee, to which beverage it bears a remarkable resemblance. Prepared like coffee, but using only about half the quantity, and drunk regularly, it acts as a mild laxative in habitual constipation, without any of the disadvantages which attend coffee drinking. The fresh leaf is best taken in salads. Juice of either flower stalk or leaf, freshly gathered, is of help in removing warts.