Chinese Name: Pu gong yin
Medical Name: Herba Taraxaci
Latin Name: Taraxacum mongolium Hand. Mazz. , T. officinale
Origin: Whole plant is harvested in summer and autumn, washed, and sun-dried.
Taste: Delicate, slightly bitter

Quotes from Chinese historical sources


SUPPLEMENT TO AMPLIFIED MATERIA MEDICA: "Relieves food poisoning, disperses stagnant pathogens and expels toxic heat, disperses malignant boils, nodules and furuncles."

THE ESSENTIAL MATERIA MEDICA: "Useful in the treatment of carbuncles and malignant boils, it is also a fine herb for the relief of strangury."

Western Research

Phytomedicine. 2005 Aug;12(8):588-97
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) flower extract suppresses both reactive oxygen species and nitric oxide and prevents lipid oxidation in vitro.
Hu C, Kitts DD.
Food, Nutrition and Health, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of British Columbia, 6650 NW Marine Drive, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4.
Flavonoids and coumaric acid derivatives were identified from dandelion flower (Taraxacum officinale). Characteristics of chain-breaking antioxidants, such as extended lag phase and reduced propagation rate, were observed in oxidation of linoleic acid emulsion with the addition of dandelion flower extract (DFE). DFE suppressed both superoxide and hydroxyl radical, while the latter was further distinguished by both site-specific and non-specific hydroxyl radical inhibition. DPPH-radical-scavenging activity and a synergistic effect with alpha-tocopherol were attributed to the reducing activity derived from phenolic content of DFE. A significant (p < 0.05) and concentration-dependent, reduced nitric oxide production from acterial-lipopolysaccharide-stimulated macrophage RAW264.7 cells was observed with the addition of DFE. Moreover, peroxyl-radical-induced intracellular oxidation of RAW264.7 cells was inhibited significantly (p < 0.05) by the addition of DFE over a range of concentrations. These results showed that the DFE possessed marked antioxidant activity in both biological and chemical models. Furthermore, the efficacy of DFE in inhibiting both reactive oxygen species and nitric oxide were attributed to its phenolic content.

Life Sci. 2004 Jan 16;74(9):1149-57.
Taraxacum officinale induces cytotoxicity through TNF-alpha and IL-1alpha secretion in Hep G2 cells.
Koo HN, Hong SH, Song BK, Kim CH, Yoo YH, Kim HM.
Department of Pharmacology, College of Oriental Medicine, Kyung Hee University, 1 Hoegi-Dong, Dongdaemun-Gu, 130-701, Seoul, South Korea
Taraxacum officinale (TO) has been frequently used as a remedy for women's disease (e.g. breast and uterus cancer) and disorders of the liver and gallbladder. Several earlier studies have indicated that TO exhibits anti-tumor properties, but its mechanism remains to be elucidated. In this study, we investigated the effect of TO on the cytotoxicity and production of cytokines in human hepatoma cell line, Hep G2. Our results show that TO decreased the cell viability by 26%, and significantly increased the tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and interleukin (IL)-1alpha production compared with media control (about 1.6-fold for TNF-alpha, and 2.4-fold for IL-1alpha, P < 0.05). Also, TO strongly induced apoptosis of Hep G2 cells as determined by flow cytometry. Increased amounts of TNF-alpha and IL-1alpha contributed to TO-induced apoptosis. Anti-TNF-alpha and IL-1alpha antibodies almost abolished it. These results suggest that TO induces cytotoxicity through TNF-alpha and IL-1alpha secretion in Hep G2 cells.

J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Jan 1;51(1):301-10
Antioxidant, prooxidant, and cytotoxic activities of solvent-fractionated dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) flower extracts in vitro.
Hu C, Kitts DD.
Food, Nutrition and Health, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of British Columbia, 6650 N.W. Marine Drive, Vancouver, Canada.
This study was conducted to investigate the chemical antioxidant and bioactive properties of the water (WF) and ethyl acetate fractions (EAF) derived from dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) flower extract (DFE). HPLC analysis showed the presence of both luteolin and luteolin 7-glucoside in the DFE, which contributed to noted in vitro antioxidant and Caco-2 cell cytotoxic activities. Both WF and EAF of DFE exhibited free radical scavenging activities in a stable 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical model and reduced the breakage of supercoiled DNA strand induced by both non-site-specific and site-specific hydroxyl radical. Oxidation of structured phosphatidylcholine liposome induced by peroxyl radical was reduced in the presence of both EAF and WF. EAF had greater (p < 0.05) affinity to scavenge peroxyl radical than WF, as measured by the formation of conjugated diene. At low concentration, prooxidant activity of both fractions was observed in Cu(2+)-induced structured liposome and hLDL oxidation models, thus indicating that the reducing power of the DFE had resulted in generation of reactive cuprous ion. However, at high concentrations the EAF did not promote oxidation in the presence of Cu(2+), suggesting that the free radical scavenging activity of this fraction was sufficient to minimize the potential oxidative mechanism attributed to the metal ion reducing activity associated with prooxidant activity.

Biol Pharm Bull. 2002 Nov;25(11):1446-50
Taraxinic acid, a hydrolysate of sesquiterpene lactone glycoside from the Taraxacum coreanum NAKAI, induces the differentiation of human acute promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cells.
Choi JH, Shin KM, Kim NY, Hong JP, Lee YS, Kim HJ, Park HJ, Lee KT.
College of Pharmacy, Kyung-Hee University, Seoul, Korea.
The present work was performed to elucidate the active moiety of a sesquiterpene lactone, taraxinic acid-1'-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside (1). from Taraxacum coreanum NAKAI on the cytotoxicity of various cancer cells. Based on enzymatic hydrolysis and MTT assay, the active moiety should be attributed to the aglycone taraxinic acid (1a). rather than the glycoside (1). Taraxinic acid exhibited potent antiproliferative activity against human leukemia-derived HL-60. In addition, this compound was found to be a potent inducer of HL-60 cell differentiation as assessed by a nitroblue tetrazolium reduction test, esterase activity assay, phagocytic activity assay, morphology change, and expression of CD 14 and CD 66 b surface antigens. These results suggest that taraxinic acid induces the differentiation of human leukemia cells to monocyte/macrophage lineage. Moreover, the expression level of c-myc was down-regulated during taraxinic acid-dependent HL-60 cell differentiation, whereas p21(CIP1) and p27(KIP1) were up-regulated. Taken together, our results suggest that taraxinic acid may have potential as a therapeutic agent in human leukemia.