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Dandelion In TCM: Nightmare for Lawns, A Liver’s Best Friend

The bane of gardeners everywhere, few plants get under the skin (no pun intended) as much as dandelion. If you can relate to how annoying it is to keep a yard free from weeds, it probably gives you no comfort knowing that, technically, dandelions are not considered an invasive species. 

But before you toss a bouquet full of dandelions into the green waste bin, let’s find out how dandelions can support your health in TCM. 

What Does Dandelion Do In TCM? 

Pu Gong Ying is the TCM name for the whole dandelion. That means that unlike most TCM herbs, which only use one part, such as the root or fruiting body of the plant, Pu Gong Ying is one of those rare single herb extracts that consists of the root, leaves and even the stem and multi-petal flower that kids love to pluck and blow into the wind. 

…Dandelion may support your digestive system and detoxification pathways.

But if you’re not a kid who loves to blow dandelion seed bristles innocently, then why give a damn about dandelions, especially if they are a bane to your lawn? 

Well, in TCM, whole dandelion influences the Liver and Stomach channels. This means that dandelion may support your digestive system and detoxification pathways. 

In addition to supporting digestion, dandelion may help support the menstrual cycle and occasional skin problems. In addition, it helps support normal muscle and joint function. 

How Does Dandelion Work in TCM?

Dandelion is a heat-clearing and fire-purging herb. For most people, that’s a big bonus because excess heat in the body, which is caused by pretty much everything in Western society—poor diet, lack of exercise, chronic stress—can have a cascading effect on the body. In Western medicine, excess heat can be compared to inflammation. Not exactly the same thing, but close enough. 

The list of complaints caused by excess heat/fire is too long to mention. However, we can list a few ways in which dandelion supports health and helps maintain balance the internal environment of the body (Yin/Yang balance): 

  • Normal cellular growth
  • Healthy urinary flow
  • Breast tissue
  • Skin 
  • Circulation and more…

In traditional herbalism, dandelion is primarily used to support the Liver, Gallbladder and Kidney channels. And if we look at dandelion’s individual parts and what they were historically used for, the root and the leaves support elimination and digestion. In addition, excess heat/fire may cause water retention. Therefore, dandelion may support normal fluid metabolism. 

Clinically, TCM doctors use dandelion for symptoms that manifest as “yellow” or “red” in the body (for example yellowish or reddish eyes). 

To summarize, dandelion may be one of the best TCM herbs for clearing heat in the Liver. Thus it may be one of the best herbs for giving the digestive system a reboot. However, dandelion is not a substitute for eating a healthy diet. 

When To Avoid Dandelion

It’s always best to consult with a TCM practitioner before taking any TCM formula or single herbal extract. This includes Dandelion. Especially if you have a health condition or take medication. Use extra caution with dandelion if you have any problems with your gallbladder (the Western physical organ). Another concern is if your bile ducts have a blockage. Also, take caution with dandelion if you have any digestive condition that may worsen because of excess stomach acid.