Dandelion – Taraxacum officinale Herb of the Month February
Dandelion has a variety of health benefits for pets
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a perennial herb found worldwide and has been utilized for centuries in traditional medicine. It is a plant of the daisy family (Asteraceae) and is native to Europe, the Mediterranean, and parts of Asia, but can now be found globally. This plant has a long history of medicinal and culinary applications, having been used to treat in humans a variety of digestive conditions such as indigestion, constipation, heartburn, and bloating. Additionally, dandelion has been utilized in veterinary herbal medicine as a liver tonic and diuretic.
Today it is rediscovered and gaining popularity as a herbal medicine for animals and its leaves and roots can be used to treat a multitude of conditions.
A scientific review provides a comprehensive review of the pharmacologically relevant compounds of Taraxacum characterized so far and of the studies supporting its use as a medicinal plant. Particular attention has been given to diuretic, choleretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic, anti-hyperglycemic, anti-coagulatory and prebiotic effects. 
This herb promotes healthy digestion, alleviates constipation, reduces edema (tissue swelling) and inflammation, enhances liver, gallbladder and kidney function, and increases immunity. It is also a source of vitamin A, C and K, as well as minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc. Furthermore, it is loaded with antioxidants which assist in protecting the body cells from oxidative stress.
Dandelion has a variety of health benefits for both humans and animals, including aiding in digestion and liver problems, and providing anti-inflammatory effects. It is important to note that this is a powerful herb and must be used carefully, in the right dosage, and always with the advice of a veterinarian certified in veterinary herbal medicine. Prior to utilizing any herbal remedy for your pet, it is essential to consult with your vet first, as its use is contraindicated in patients with acute gallbladder inflammation, bile duct obstruction and intestinal obstruction.
1. Use as a Digestive Tonic
Dandelion is rich in vitamins and minerals
The herb is a natural source of vitamins and minerals. Especially the leaves are an abundant source of vitamin A, C, and K, as well as calcium, iron, potassium, and manganese. Taraxacum root is rich in inulin, an important prebiotic.
The diuretic properties of this plant help to shift fluid out of tissues and eliminate it via the kidneys and urinary tract. Taraxacum leaves have strong diuretic properties, stronger than dandelion roots have.
Effective against constipation
Dandelion is a beneficial digestive tonic, particularly for those suffering from constipation. Constituents, such as inulin, help to feed and to improve the microbiome, hence strengthening the immune system. The root stimulates the flow of bile and serves as a laxative. Additionally, it helps to reduce cholesterol levels and is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Humans can consume the leaves raw, added to salads, or cooked in soups and stews. It is recommended to drink dandelion tea prior to meals and during meals, as opposed to after.
2. Works as a Liver Tonic
Dandelion is a strong liver stimulant, better said, a choleretic (agent that stimulates the flow of bile). It is a cholagogue, meaning that it stimulates gallbladder peristalsis and therefore improves bile flow, which assists in the improvement of liver health and functionality.
It contains a range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other important constituents that can aid and protect the liver and its important processes. The active components of dandelion help in reducing inflammation, cleansing the liver of toxins, and safeguarding against oxidative damage.
A study on ACLF (acute-on-chronic liver failure) found that for the first time it is suggested that the root extract may be a potential preventive therapeutic agent for the severe liver and renal inflammatory injury associated with ACLF.  ACLF has a high mortality rate in younger humans. The herb can be given in the form of tea, tincture, capsule, extracts or given as a fresh plant, dried leaves or roots or in powdered form.
3. Traxacum officinale ‘s Diuretic Properties
Dandelion serves as a diuretic to help to shift fluid out of tissues and eliminate it via the kidneys and urinary tract. It stimulates the kidneys’ function of filtering metabolic waste molecules and purifying the blood. Additionally, it can be employed to alleviate the symptoms of anemia, gallstones, menstrual pain, and to stimulate lactation in nursing mothers. It also has been used to treat rheumatic diseases, and as a diuretic to reduce swelling and pain related to arthritis.
For cats with kidney disease a study found, that a diet, based on Roundhead bushclover, Cranberry and Dandelion may improve kidney function; the neutraceutical diet used in that study imporved serum creatinine, BUN, AST, urine color score and urinary protein concentration in cats significantly. 
4. Treatment of Skin Conditions like Acne and Eczema
Dandelion is also an effective natural remedy to treat skin issues such as acne and eczema. Though a study of Paulsen suggested that oral ingestion of fresh Dandelion juice from fresh leaves and roots had no effect on her 3 study participants , Wang et al. said that using Taraxacum officinale in combination with other herbs and taking this internally and externally may help quite well. They also said rightly, that contrary to TCM where herbs are used in combinations of usually 8 -20 herbs, Western medicine prefers to use it as a single herb to treat symptoms, not looking to treat holistically and find out where the actual root of the problem is located. .
5. Dandelion is an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial
The herb contains potent anti-inflammatory properties  and is a rich source of antioxidants. This makes it a great natural option for reducing inflammation and treating the symptoms associated with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Studies have revealed its anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal effects, thus providing an effective natural remedy for combating infections. Dandelion can be part of a prescribed tincture, consumed as a tea, taken in capsule form, or applied topically in the form of ointments, creams, and balms.
If your pets have any of the above discussed health problems, it is recommended to seek the advice of a veterinarian certified in veterinary herbal medicine prior to giving Taraxacum officinale to your pets to avoid dosing issues and interactions with other drugs or supplements your pet is already taking.
- Pfingstgraf, I.O., Taulescu, M., Pop, R.M., Orăsan, R., Vlase, L., Uifalean, A., Todea, D., Alexescu, T., Toma, C. and Pârvu, A.E. (2021). Protective Effects of Taraxacum officinale L. (Dandelion) Root Extract in Experimental Acute on Chronic Liver Failure. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), [online] 10(4). doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox10040504.
- Di Cerbo, A., Iannitti, T., Guidetti, G., Centenaro, S., Canello, S. and Cocco, R. (2018). A nutraceutical diet based onLespedeza spp.Vaccinium macrocarpon andTaraxacum officinale improves spontaneous feline chronic kidney disease. Physiological Reports, [online] 6(12), p.e13737. doi:https://doi.org/10.14814/phy2.13737.
- Paulsen, Evy. “Oral ingestion of dandelion juice for vesicular hand eczema: Treatment or challenge?.” Contact dermatitis vol. 82,5 (2020): 327-328. doi:10.1111/cod.13473
- Wang, Qiuyue, and Pingsheng Hao. “Dandelion juice for vesicular hand eczema, oral ingestion, or topical?.” Contact dermatitis vol. 83,4 (2020): 332. doi:10.1111/cod.13635
- Dong, Linsha et al. “Taraxacum officinale Wigg. Attenuates Inflammatory Responses in Murine Microglia through the Nrf2/HO-1 and NF-κB Signaling Pathways.” The American journal of Chinese medicine vol. 48,2 (2020): 445-462. doi:10.1142/S0192415X20500238
Schütz, Katrin et al. “Taraxacum–a review on its phytochemical and pharmacological profile.” Journal of ethnopharmacology vol. 107,3 (2006): 313-23. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2006.07.021