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Dandelion Root

(Last edited: Monday, 30 March 2015, 8:09 PM)

dandelionDandelion Root

Also known as: Blowball, Common Dandelion, Dent-de-Lion (Lions tooth).

Scientific Name: Taraxacum officinale radix.

Botanical Family: Asteraceae/Compositae.

Part used: Root (dandelion leaves are also used but this profile relates to the root). 

Traditional use.

Dandelion is used for loss of appetite, dyspepsia, flatulence, gallstones, bile stimulation, rheumatism, arthritic joints, muscle aches, eczema, and bruises. Dandelion is also used as an alterative, laxative, diuretic, circulatory tonic, skin toner, blood tonic, and digestive tonic. It is also used to treat infection, especially viral infections.

In foods the roasted root is used as a coffee substitute.

Nutrients: dandelion is a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. The root is generally richer in minerals than the leaf which is rich in vitamins. 


There are no concerns regarding safety when used orally in amounts commonly found in foods. Dandelion has Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status in the US.(1)

There are no concerns regarding safety when used appropriately in medicinal amounts, see dosage information for guidance.(2) 

Pregnancy: There are no scientific studies available, so avoid using greater than dietary amounts.

Breastfeeding: There are no scientific studies available, so avoid using greater than dietary amounts.


Sesquiterpene lactones; tataxoside, taraxinic acid, dihydrotaraxininc acid and others.

Polyphenols including caffeic acid


Triterpenes; tataxol, taraxerol, tataxasterolbeta-amyrin, stigmasterol and beta-sitosterol (a phytosterol)

Carbohydrates especially inulin when harvested in Autumn)

Vitamins A, B, C, D

Minerals especially potassium and calcium

Scientific evidence.

There is insufficient scientific data to comment on most traditional uses.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs). A specific oral combination of dandelion root and uva ursi leaf extracts seems to help reduce the recurrence rate of UTIs in women.(3) In this combination uva ursi is used for its antibacterial properties and dandelion is used to increase urination.

Mechanism of action.

Dandelion root contains quercetin, luteolin, p-hydroxyphenylacetic acid, germacranolide acids, chlorogenic acid, chicoric acid, and monocaffeyltartaric acid. In addition it has a high potassium content. The roots contain caffeic acid, taraxacoside, taraxasterol, and large amounts of the polysaccharide, inulin.(4)

Dandelion root promotes bile production and bile flow and urinary flow. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, analgesic, anti-hyperglycemic, anti-coagulatory and has prebiotic effects.

Based on a small study using an alcohol extract of dandelion leaf in human volunteers, this herb elicits a significant diuretic effect in humans.(5 

Emerging evidence suggests that dandelion and its constituents have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities that result in diverse biological effects.(6,7,13) 

Animal studies show that dandelion has effects on detoxifying enzymes in the liver.(9)

Preliminary evidence indicates a beneficial effect on cardiovascular risk factors mediated by oxidative stress, inflammation, and cholesterol profile. (13) 

Dandelion root contains high concentrations of inulin. Oligofructans, such as inulin, are used as food sources by beneficial intestinal bacteria. Dandelion root enhances the growth of bifidobacteria and may be useful as a "prebiotic".(8)

Dandelion extracts were effective for facilitating the gastrointestinal motility in animal studies.(12)

Anti-cancer effects on melanoma, breast and prostate cancer cells have been demonstrated. (10,11)

Adverse reactions.

No reported side effects.

Possible interactions with herbs and supplements.

None known. 

Interactions with drugs.

Lithium; Seek professional advice when combining any herbs, spices or foods that have a diuretic effect so that accommodation with the monitoring and dosage of Lithium can be adjusted.

Interactions with foods.

None known. 

Interactions with laboratory tests.

None known. 


Recommended dose: 5-10mls per day 1:5 tincture 30% alcohol.

Decoction: range from 3-6 tsps. per day.

Tincture; 5-10 mls per day 1:5 25% alcohol

Raw herb: 3-5gms per day

Juice from fresh root: 3-8mls per day.

Liquid extract:

The recommended dose of Dr Clare’s Joint Support Tea provides

of a tsp.  three times a day or ½ a tsp. per day.

Dr Clare’s Blend: 1gm per day

Liquid extract: 2-8 mL / day 

Tincture: 1:5, 5-10 mL / day

Root tincture (1:2) fresh root in 45% alcohol: 30 - 60 drops, 3 times daily.

Raw Herb:

Usual dose; 2-8gms/day.

Dried root decoction: 1/2 - 2 teaspoonfuls, 3 times daily. Place throot into boiling water for 5 - 10 minutes. Strain and drink the ‘tea’. You can add the roots to soups or stews, they are very nourishing.                   


1. FDA. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Office of Premarket Approval, EAFUS: A food additive database. Available at:

2.   McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A, eds. American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, LLC 1997.

3. Larsson B, Jonasson A, Fianu S. Prophylactic effect of UVA-E in women with recurrent cystitis: a preliminary report. Curr Ther Res 1993;53:441-3.

4.   Williams CA, Goldstone F, Greenham J. Flavonoids, cinnamic acids and coumarins from the different tissues and medicinal preparations of Taraxacum officinale. Phytochemistry 1996;42:121-7.

5.  Bevin A. Clare, Richard S. Conroy, Kevin Spelman. The Diuretic Effect in Human Subjects of an Extract of Taraxacum officinale Folium over a Single Day. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. August 2009, 15(8): 929-934.

6. Gonzalez-Castelon M, Visioli F, Rodriguez-Casado A.

Diverse biological activities of dandelion. Nutr Rev. 2012 Sep;70(9):534-47.

 7. Mascolo N, Autore G, Capassa G, et al. Biological screening of Italian medicinal plants for anti-inflammatory activity. Phytother Res 1987:28-9.

8.  Trojanova I, Rada V, Kokoska L, Vlkova E. The bifidogenic effect of Taraxacum officinale root. Fitoterapia 2004;75:760-3.

9. Maliakal PP, Wanwimolruk S. Effect of herbal teas on hepatic drug metabolizing enzymes in rats. J Pharm Pharmacol 2001;53:1323-9.

10. The Efficacy of Dandelion Root Extract in Inducing Apoptosis in Drug-Resistant Human Melanoma Cells

11. Sigstedt SC, Hooten CJ, Callewaert MC, Jenkins AR, et al. Evaluation of aqueous extracts of Taraxacum officinale on growth and invasion of breast and prostate cancer cells. Int J Oncol. 2008 May;32(5):1085-90.

12. S. J. Chatterjee, P. Ovadje, M. Mousa, C. Hamm, and S. Pandey. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2011.Research on the gastrointestinal propulsive motility and chemical constituents of Dandelion extraction

WU Yan-ling, PIAO Hui-shan.

13. Jinju Kim , Kyunghee Noh , Mikyung Cho , Jihyun Jang and Youngsun Song. Anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory and anti-atherogenic effects of Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) extracts in C57BL/6 mice fed atherogenic diet

Jinju Kim , Kyunghee Noh , Mikyung Cho , Jihyun Jang and Youngsun Song. Journal of Fed. of American Societies for Experimental Biology 2007;21:862.7


Entry link: Dandelion Root

Devil’s Claw

(Last edited: Monday, 30 March 2015, 8:12 PM)

deviles clawThe botanical name Harpagophytum means ‘hook plant’ in Greek, it is named after the hook-covered fruits of the plant. Devil’s claw is native to southern Africa and has been used traditionally as a bitter tonic for digestive disturbances, febrile illnesses, allergic reactions and to relieve pain. 

Also known as: Grapple Plant.

Scientific name: Harpagophytum procumbens.

Botanical Family: Pedaliaceae.

Part used: The tubers which are underground stems. 

Traditional use.

Devil's claw is traditionally used for arteriosclerosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, muscle soreness, fibrositis, lumbago, tendonitis, pleuritic chest pain, gastrointestinal upset or dyspepsia, fever, migraine headache, menstrual problems, allergic reactions, loss of appetite, kidney and bladder disease, and degenerative disorders of the locomotor system.


No concerns regarding safety when used orally and appropriately. Devil's claw seems to be well-tolerated when used daily for up to a year.(1,2,3,4,5) 

Pregnancy: Consult a medical herbalist.

Breastfeeding: Consult a medical herbalist.


Iridoid glycosides principally harpagoside



Phytosterols especially beta sitosterol.

Aromatic acids.

Flavonoids; kaemferol and lutein.


Scientific evidence.

Back pain. Taking devil's claw orally seems to lessen nonspecific low-back pain. Some evidence suggests that an aqueous extract of devil's claw at doses of 50-100mg harpagoside daily has an anti-inflammatory effect equal to 13.5mg rofecoxib (Vioxx).(2,3,5)  

If the resources put into even the marketing budget of Vioxx was spent investigating this herb the tragedy of the Vioxx deaths and ilness may not have happened.

Osteoarthritis. Taking devil's claw orally alone or in conjunction with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) helps decrease osteoarthritis-related pain.(1,2,3,4,13) Evidence shows that devil's claw is comparable to diacerhein (a slow-acting drug for osteoarthritis; not available in the US) for improving osteoarthritis pain in the hip and knee after 16 weeks of treatment. Patients taking devil's claw have been able able to decrease the use of NSAIDs for pain relief.(1) This study used a specific powdered devil's claw root product (Harpadol, Arkopharma) containing 2% of the constituent harpagoside (9.5mg/capsule) and 3% total iridoid glycosides (14.5mg per capsule).(1) Another specific devil's claw extract (Doloteffin, Ardeypharm) 2400mg/day providing 60mg/day of the harpagoside constituent has also been researched.(2,4)

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Preliminary evidence suggests that taking devil's claw extract orally might not be helpful for RA.(6) More evidence is needed to rate devil's claw for this use.

Mechanism of action.

Devil's claw contains iridoid glycoside constituents primarily harpagoside but it appears that other compounds besides harpagoside contribute to its effect.(7,8) It also contains the phenylethanol derivatives and an oligosaccharide.(8) People use devil's claw for osteoarthritis and other inflammatory conditions because the iridoid glycoside constituents seem to have an anti-inflammatory effect.(1) Some preliminary research suggests that harpagoside inhibits both the cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase inflammatory pathways.(9) Devil's claw seems to inhibit COX-2 (but not COX-1) and nitric oxide synthetase, a modulator of inflammation.(10) Some evidence suggests that the anti-inflammatory effect is due to increased synthesis and release of tumor necrosis factor by compounds other than harpagoside.(8) However, research in humans shows no effect of devil's claw on the arachidonic acid pathway.(11)

Adverse reactions.

Devil's claw is generally well tolerated. A small percentage of patients complain of gastrointestinal upset. This can only be determined by trying the herb. It is more likely in patients wih peptic ulceration. In general if you have digestive problems start with a lower than usual dose and increase the dose slowly to test your tolerance level.

Devil's claw can cause allergic skin reactions following oral treatment.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Although references cite that devil’s claw may lower blood sugar levels, upset gallstones and may affect blood pressure, these are extrapolations from physiological effects or animal studies and I can find no clinical studies or even case reports of problems. Be aware that herbs alter physiology and monitor any chronic condition for change when you use herbs.

Interactions with herbs and supplements.

None known.

Interactions with drugs.

Warfarin (Coumadin) an anti blood clotting agent.

Interactions with foods.

None known. 

Interactions with laboratory tests.

None known.

Interactions with diseases or conditions.

Peptic Ulcer Disease: May cause gastrointestinal upset.12

However lower doses may be clinically indicated and well tolerated for digestive discomfort


Recommended dose: 6-12mls per day 1:5 tincture 25% alcohol.

Liquid extract: 1-2mls 1:1 25% alchohol.

Decoction: range from 2-4 tsps. per day.

Powder/capsule: 1,500mgs per day, 

The recommended dose of Dr Clare’s Joint Support Blend provides 3mls per day of 1:3 Tincture.

This is when taken at a dose of 5mls three times a day. This is equivalent 750mgs per day.


1.   Chantre P, Cappelaere A, Leblan D, et al. Efficacy and tolerance or Harpagophytum procumbens versus diacerhein in treatment of osteoarthritis. Phytomedicine 2000;7:177-84.

2.   Chrubasik S, Thanner J, Kunzel O, et al. Comparison of outcome measures during treatment with the proprietary Harpagophytum extract doloteffin in patients with pain in the lower back, knee or hip. Phytomedicine 2002;9:181-94.

3.   Gagnier JJ, Chrubasik S, Manheimer E. Harpgophytum procumbens for osteoarthritis and low back pain: a systematic review. BMC Complement Altern Med 2004;14:13.

4.   Wegener T, Lupke NP. Treatment of patients with arthrosis of hip or knee with an aqueous extract of devil's claw (Harpagophytum procumbens DC). Phytother Res 2003;17:1165-72.

5.   Chrubasik S, Kunzel O, Thanner J, et al. A 1-year follow-up after a pilot study with Doloteffin for low back pain. Phytomedicine 2005;13:1-9.

6.   Grahame R, Robinson BV. Devils's claw (Harpagophytum procumbens): pharmacological and clinical studies. Ann Rheum Dis 1981;40:632.

7.   Lanhers MC, Fleurentin J, Mortier F, et al. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of an aqueous extract of Harpagophytum procumbens. Planta Med 1992;58:117-23 .

8.   Fiebich BL, Heinrich M, Hiller KO, Kammerer N. Inhibition of TNF-alpha synthesis in LPS-stimulated primary human monocytes by Harpagophytum extract SteiHap 69. Phytomedicine 2001;8:28-30..

9.   Chrubasik S, Sporer F, Dillmann-Marschner R, et al. Physicochemical properties of harpagoside and its in vitro release from Harpagophytum procumbens extract tablets. Phytomedicine 2000;6:469-73.

10.  Jang MH, Lim S, Han SM, et al. Harpagophytum procumbens suppresses lipopolysaccharide-stimulated expressions of cyclooxygenase-2 and inducible nitric oxide synthase in fibroblast cell line L929. J Pharmacol Sci 2003;93:367-71.

11.  Moussard C, Alber D, Toubin MM, et al. A drug used in traditional medicine, harpagophytum procumbens: no evidence for NSAID-like effect on whole blood eicosanoid production in human. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 1992;46:283-6.

12.  Brinker F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. 2nd ed. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Medical Publications, 1998.

13. Effectiveness and safety of Devil's Claw tablets in patients with general rheumatic disorders. Phytotherapy Research

Volume 21, Issue 12, pages 1228–1233, December 2007 

Entry link: Devil’s Claw

Dong Quai

(Last edited: Monday, 30 March 2015, 8:13 PM)

dong quaiAlso Known As:

Angelica sinensis, Chinese Angelica, Dang Gui.

Scientific Name:

Angelica sinensis.

Family: Apiaceae/Umbelliferae.

People Use This For:

Orally, dong quai is used for painful periods, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and

menopausal symptoms. It is also used orally as a "blood purifier"; to manage

high blood pressure, infertility, rheumatism, ulcers, anemia, and constipation; and

in the prevention and treatment of allergic attacks. Dong quai is also used orally

is for the treatment of skin depigmentation and psoriasis.


No converns regarding safety when used orally and appropriately. Dong quai

has been safely used in a clinical trial lasting up to 24 weeks.34 More scientific

evidence is needed to determine its safety after prolonged, repetitive use.

Pregnancy and Lactation: Refer to a Medical Herbalist.



Men suffering from premature ejaculation who were treated with the cream had

significantly improved ejaculatory latency compared to placebo.35


Menopausal symptoms. Dong quai does not seem to have any effect on

endometrial wall thickness or menopausal symptoms.34

There is insufficient reliable information available about the effectiveness of dong

quai for its other uses.

Mechanism of Action:

The applicable part of dong quai is the root. Dong quai root has several active

constituents. Some of these include ferulic acid, ligusticide, angelicide, brefeldin

A, butylphthalide, nicotinic acid, and succinic acid.36,37 Dong quai root contains a

variety of other constituents. The dong quai root also contains several vitamins

and minerals including vitamin A, carotenoids, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin

B12, biotin, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, and phytosterols such as beta-

sitosterol.37 It also contains 0.4% to 0.7% volatile oil.38,37 Dong quai also contains several coumarin constituents.38,37 Some coumarins can act as vasodilators and antispasmodics.


Adverse Reactions:

Dong quai is well-tolerated.34


Interactions with Drugs:

Warfarin (Coumadin): Refer to a Medical Herbalist.


Interactions with Foods:

None known.


Interactions with Diseases or Conditions:

Breast Cancer: Refer to a Medical Herbalist.

Hormone Sensitive Cancers/Conditions: Refer to a Medical Herbalist.

Surgery: Tell patients to discontinue dong quai at least 2 weeks before elective surgical procedures.

Oral: For menopausal symptoms, 4.5 g of powdered Dong Quai root has been used daily.34


Specific References: DONG QUAI

34.  Hirata JD, Swiersz LM, Zell B, et al. Does dong quai have estrogenic effects in postmenopausal women? A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Fertil Steril 1997;68:981-6.

35.  Choi HK, Jung GW, Moon KH, et al. Clinical study of SS-Cream in patients with lifelong premature ejaculation. Urology 2000;55:257-61.

36.  Zhao KJ, Dong TT, Tu PF, et al. Molecular genetic and chemical assessment of radix Angelica (Danggui) in China. J Agric Food Chem 2003;51:2576-83.

37.  Monograph. Angelica sinensis (Dong quai). Altern Med Rev 2004;9:429-33.

38.  Zhu DP. Dong Quai. Am J Chin

Entry link: Dong Quai

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