Dandelion (Pu Gong Ying)
Botanical Name: Taraxacum officinale
Dandelion is probably one of the richest herbal sources of Vitamin K which aids bone mass and helps treat Alzheimer’s disease by limiting neuronal damage in the brain. Dandelion is an excellent general tonic for blood, skin and digestion.
Below is an overview of dandelion, combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of dandelion.
Western Name: Dandelion
Also Known As: Blowball, Cankerwart, Dent-de-Lion (Lion’s Tooth), Irish Daisy, Priest’s Crown, Piss-a-Bed
Organs/Systems: Digestion, Liver, Skin, Muscles
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Stomachic, Aperient, Laxative, Blood Tonic, Anti-oxidant, Diuretic, Hepatic, Cholagogue, Lithotriptic, Antibacteria, Fungicide, Astringent, Sedative. Loss of appetite, intestinal gas, gallstones, joint and muscle aches and pains, eczema. Promotes urination. Tones skin, aids eyesight, exceptionally nutritious food.
Pin Yin: Pu Gong Ying
Also Known As: N/A
Meridians: Liver, Stomach, Kidneys
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Clear Heat/Relieve Toxicity: especially Liver heat with red, swollen, painful eyes. Reduces Abscesses/Dissipates Nodules: particularly if they are firm and hard. Especially for breast and intestinal abscesses. Can be used internally or externally. Promotes Lactation. Resolves Dampness: due to heat. Damp-heat jaundice and painful urinary dysfunction.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Leaves, Flower Tops, Roots
Flavors/Temps: Bitter, Sweet, Cold
Caution: None noted.
History/Folklore: Dandelions are thought to have evolved about 30 million years ago in Eurasia and have been used by humans for psychic properties, food, and healing for much of recorded history.
As for psychic properties, the dandelion is said to be able to repel witches if gathered on Midsummer’s Eve. It is also said to increase psychic abilities and used as a divination tool in tea.
Dandelions are a well known food source. The flower petals, along with other ingredients like citrus, are used to make dandelion wine. The ground, roasted roots can be used as a caffeine-free dandelion coffee. Dandelion was also used to make the traditional British soft drink of dandelion and burdock. It is one of the ingredients of root beer. Also, dandelions were once Victorian era delicacies eaten by the gentry, mostly in salads and sandwiches.
In gardens, dandelions create drainage channels in compacted soils, helping to restore mineral health to abused soils. They also aerate and attract earthworms. Dandelion taproots will bring up nutrients for shallower-rooting plants, and add minerals and nitrogen to soil. Dandelion is also known to attract pollinating insects and release ethylene gas that helps fruit to ripen.
Dandelions also have famous healing properties. Culpeper says, “It is of an opening and cleansing quality.” First mentioned in China in the Tang Materia Medica of the 7th century. It was also recommended to restore health by the Arabian physician, Avicenna in the 11th century. According to the Doctrine of Signatures (like treats like) dandelions are been “signed” in yellow to cure diseases of yellow hues (i.e. jaundice). In the Catholic tradition, the plant is sacred to St. Bridget. The milky sap that comes from the stems is said to nourish lambs and calves.
Dandelions are attributed with the ability to indicate time and direction. It is said that one can tell time by the number of breaths it takes to blow off the seeds from the stem. It is also called the “rustic oracle,” as its flowers open about 5am and shut at 8pm, serving as a clock for shepherds in the field as well as hinting at weather conditions as the flowers fold up if cloudy. Blowing on the seeds will tell you where your lover is by the direction the seeds blew.
Bitter crystalline compound Taraxacin. Root contains inulin (not insulin!) and levulin. Fresh dandelion contains about 338% of daily-recommended Vitamin A. Unusually high source of Potassium, also has Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Copper, Choline, Boron, Silicon and Magnesium. Rich in Folic Acid, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine, Niacin, Vitamins E and C.
“Dent de Lion”
The English name “Dandelion” is a corruption of the French “Dent de Lion” meaning “lion’s tooth,” referring to the plants coarsely toothed leaves. The name “Piss-a-Bed” is a reference to the plant’s roots strong diuretic effects.
Many similar plants in the Asteraceae family have yellow flowers that are sometimes known as “False Dandelions.” Dandelions are very similar to catsears (Hypochaeris). Both plants carry similar flowers, which form into windborne seeds. However, dandelion flowers are borne singly on unbranched, hairless and leafless, hollow stems, while catsear flowering stems are branched, solid and carry bracts. Both plants have a basal rosette of leaves and a central taproot. However, the leaves of dandelions are smooth or glabrous, whereas those of catsears are coarsely hairy.
Good Luck, Bad Luck
It is considered good luck to have a few Dandelions in a wedding bouquet. It is bad luck to pick them at a cemetery, and even worse if you pick them at a cemetery and then give them to someone.
References: For a complete list of references please visit our References and Resources page. Disclosure: If you purchase from some links on this web page, we may receive some kind of affiliate commission. However, we only ever mention products we would recommend whether we were being compensated or not. Thank you so much for your support of White Rabbit Institute of Healing!