TARAXACUM. N.F. (Br.) TARAXACUM Tarax. [Dandelion]
United States Dispensatory 1926
Potters Cyclopedia of Botanical Drugs 1985
Compiled and Edited by Ivor Hughes

Taraxacum consists of the dried rhizome and roots of Leontodon Taraxacum Linne (Fam. Compositae), Taraxacum contains not more than 2 per cent, of foreign organic matter and yields not more than 4 per cent, of acid-insoluble ash." N. F.

Taraxacum Eoot is the fresh root of Taraxacum officinale, Wiggers. Collected in the autumn." Br.

Taraxacl Radix, Br.; Taraxacum Root; Dandelion Root; Blowball, Milk, Witch, or Yellow Gowan, Lion's-tooth, Cankerwort: Pissenlit, Dent de Lion, Fr. Cod.; Radix Taraxaci cum herba, P. G.; Lowenzahn, Q.; Tarassaco, It.; Taraxacon, Diente de Leon, Sp.

The dandelion is a perennial herb native to Europe but now naturalized in many parts of the world, occurring almost ubiquitously in grassy places as a troublesome weed. Its subterranean portion consists of straight, fusiform root which in its upper part passes into an erect rhizome which sometimes branches into several secondary rhizomes. From the rhizome or its branches rosettes of coarsely pinnatifid leaves arise. These are usually runcinate, with the lobes toothed. The common name of the plant was derived from the fancied resemblance of its leaves to the teeth of a lion.

The flower-stem rises from the midst of the leaves, six inches or more in height. It is erect, simple, naked, smooth, hollow, fragile, and terminated by a large golden-colored flower, which closes in the evening and expands with the returning light of the sun. The involucre is smooth and double, with the outer scales bent downward. The florets are very numerous, ligulate, and toothed at their extremities. The receptacle is flat and naked. The pappus is stipitate, and at the period of maturity is disposed in a spherical form, and is so light and feathery as to be easily borne away by the wind, with the achene attached. Another plant resembling the common dandelion, the achenes of which, however, are narrower and bright red or reddish brown, known as the red-seeded dandelion, is the product of T. erythrospermum Andrz., and is supposed by some to be naturalized from Europe. There seems little doubt but that the drug of commerce represents the rhizomes and roots of both of these species, as both often occur together and bear many features in common.

All parts of the plant contain a milky, bitterish juice, which exudes when they are broken or wounded. The leaves, when very young and blanched by the absence of light during their growth, are tender and not unpleasant to the taste, and are much used as a food. The Pharmacopoeias recognize only the root. It should be full grown when collected, and should be employed in the recent state. That most esteemed is collected during the months of July, August, and September. The commercial supplies of Taraxacum are imported from Germany, Holland and England.

Description and Physical Properties. � " Unground Taraxacum.�Cylindrical or somewhat flattened, gradually tapering, usually in broken pieces, from 6 to 15 cm. in length and from 5 to 15 mm. in thickness; externally brown or blackish brown, longitudinally wrinkled, having numerous root and rootlet-scars; crown simple or branched with numerous leaf-bases showing annulate markings; fracture horny, short, non-fibrous. Odor slight or inodorous; taste bitter.

Structure. � A porous, pale yellow, non-radiate wood from 1 to 4 mm. in diameter, surrounded by a light brown bark from 2 to 6 mm. in thickness, the latter containing concentric layers of laticiferous vessels and sieve tissues, alternating with whitish inulin-bearing parenchyma. The rhizome portions show a small pith.

Powdered Taraxacum. � Light brown; parenchyma cells, large, thin-walled and containing irregular masses of inulin; fragments with yellowish brown laticiferous vessels; tracheae reticulate; intermediate fibers non-lignified, with irregular, simple and oblique pores; starch wanting.

Preserve Taraxacum in tightly closed containers." N.F.

Fresh root frequently three decimetres or more long, and twelve millimetres or more thick, smooth and yellowish-brown externally, whitish within. Fracture short, the exposed surface showing a small yellow porous wood, surrounded by a thick nearly white cortex exhibiting a variable number of irregular concentric rings, from which a milky juice exudes. Inodorous; taste bitter." Br.

The roots of various plants have been largely substituted for dandelion in England and on the Continent by the herb gatherers, and we are informed that fraudulent substitution is not infrequent, in this country, of the root of Cichorium Intybus L., or chicory. It is rare to find chicory mixed with dandelion, the former being usually boldly substituted for the latter. Chicory rhizomes or roots are readily detected, upon fracture, by their radially arranged laticiferous vessels in the bark region. In dandelion these are arranged in concentric circles.

In 1839 Polex isolated a bitter crystalline principle which he called taraxacin and later Kromayer (1861) a second crystalline substance which he called taraxacerin, but F. B. Power (C. D., 1912, p. 822) states that both of these substances are indefinite mixtures. The root contains in the fall about 25 per cent, of inulin but the quantity in the spring is considerably less; also about 17 per cent, of uncrystallizable sugar and a soluble carbohydrate called levulin, C6H10O5. According to Vogel, the intra-cellular substance of the root consists chiefly of pectose, which is the result of a metamorphosis of the substance constituting the membrane of the cells. L. E. Sayre found that the yield of taraxacin varies in roots collected at different seasons. (See Proc. A. Ph. A., 1893, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1897.) Power found in the air dried English root, an enzyme, essential oil, oily resin, fatty acids, including melissic, and p-hydroxy-phenyl-acetic acid, which had never before been isolated from a plant.

Uses. � Taraxacum was formerly supposed to possess cholagogic as well as diuretic powers. It has been used in various conditions accompanied with congested or torpid liver. There is, however, no sufficient reason for believing it possesses any therapeutic virtues. The dried root is sometimes mixed, in powder, with ground coffee, the taste of which covers that of the dandelion. It is roasted and powdered and then prepared in the same manner.

Dose, one to three drachms (3.9-11.6 Gm.).

Off. Prep. � Fluidextractum Taraxaci, N. F. (Br.) ; Extractum Taraxaci, N. F., Br.; Succus Taraxaci, Br.; Elixir Gentianae Glycerinatum, N. F.; Elixir Taraxaci Compositum, N. F.; Elixir Eriodictyi Aromaticum, N. F.; Elixir Guaranae N. F.

Potters Cyclopedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations 1985

DANDELION : Taraxacum officinale Weber.
Fam. Compositae
Synonyms: Taraxacum dens-leonis Desf., Leontodon taraxacum L.
Habitat: Widely distributed throughout most of the world as a troublesome weed.
Description: The Dandelion is so well-known it needs no description. The root is collected in the autumn.
Part Used: Leaves, root.
Constituents: (i) Sesquiterpene lactones; taraxacoside (an acylated y butyrolactone glycoside) [457] and at least four others of the eudesmanolide, germacranolide and tetrahydroridentin B types [458] (ii) Triterpenes; taraxol, taraxerol, ψ-taraxasterol, β-amyrin, stigmasterol and (
β-sitosterol [5] (iii) Phenolic acids; caffeic and ρ-hydroxyphenylacetic acids (iv) Polysaccharides; glucans and mannans [459] and inulin (v) Carotenoids such as lutein and violaxanthin [5] (vi) Miscellaneous; protein, sugars, pectin, cholme etc. The vitamin A content is higher than in carrots [5]. The flowers contain carotenoids like those in the leaves and root, and others [5].

Medicinal Use: Diuretic, tonic, antirheumatic and mild Aperient. Used chiefly in kidney and liver disorders, for rheumatism and as a general tonic. The anti-inflammatory activity has recently been confirmed in animal studies [403]. The polysaccharides and aqueous extracts have antitumour activity in animals [459, 460]. The root, when roasted, is used as a coffee substitute or flavour additive, and the fresh young leaves may be used in salads. The flowers are used to make country-style wines.

Preparations: Liquid Extract BPC 1949, dose: 2-8 ml; Dandelion Juice BPC 1949, dose: 4-8 ml.
Potter's Products: Liver and Bile Medicinal Tea Bags; Stomach and Liver Medicinal Tea Bags; Diuretic Mixture No. 110; Boldo Aid to Slimming Tablets; Natural Herb Tablets.
Regulatory Status: GSL.

See also Bitters part two for Dandelion - Martindales 24th  and the US NF for the American preparations. Or else use the site search box at the top right hand of the page.