Taraxacum, or dandelion is a common weed that grows throughout the continental United States. It is most common in the Northern, more temperate regions of the U.S., and can be found frequenting lawns, meadows, and pastures. The dandelion plant has long green leaves with jagged edges, much like sharp teeth. In fact, this characteristic help to lend its name, “dente de lion” in French. Dandelions produce bright yellow composite flowers and grow a deep single taproot. It is a perennial plant species that is considered a major nuisance in the management of turf, ornamental plantings, meadows, pastures, and alfalfa.
Dandelion leaf has been used for centuries as a diuretic and springtime tonic. There are references to the use of the leaf portions of the plant by Arab ‘healers,’ as far back as the 11th century.  Its mentioned uses include those for certain hemorrhoid and rheumatism treatments.  Dandelion has garnered much interest in Western folk medicine as a potential remedy for water retention.
Dandelion has several key constituents that make it perfectly suitable as an effective diuretic. First, It is high in vitamins and minerals, especially potassium. Many pharmaceutical diuretics deplete the body of potassium, which can have serious physiological consequences. Secondly, dandelion is able to spare potassium and avoid serous consequences. Finally, this plant is also abundant in vitamins A, B, C, and D. Dandelion also contains triterpenes and sesquiterpene lactones, much like the root, as well as coumarins, carotenoids, and other minerals that are not present in the root. 
Modern research has supported it traditional uses, as dandelion leaf is still used as both a diuretic and spring tonic today. However, little research exists concerning the therapeutic effect of dandelion leaves upon specific human conditions. The alternative use of this portion of the plant is based primarily on traditional folk use; seemingly maintaining efficacy despite lack of clinical trials.
The leaf is the part of the dandelion that can be used for diuretic effects. It can be used in a fresh, dried, or capsule form.
Dandelion Leaf Usage
Dandelion leaf is mainly used for its diuretic action. It can be used to treat high blood pressure by causing an increase in elimination of water via the kidneys. It has been compared to furosemide, a commonly prescribed diuretic, in its ability to act as a such.  It can also be used to treat conditions of excess water retention such as PMS, inflammation, and for edema.
Dandelion leaf has also been mentioned as a remedy for joint inflammation, specifically of rheumatic nature. It is theorized that the constituents located within the leave may produce a reduction in joint swelling, and may also relieve pressure caused by excess fluid in the joint space.
The leaf may also be mildly stimulating to the liver, but not on the same scale as the root.
The leaf can be taken in several forms for therapeutic benefit.
- Infusion (tea): Take 4 - 10 grams of dried leaf per day
- Tincture (1:4): Take 3 - 5 milliliters (ml), three times daily
- Juice from the fresh leaves: up to 20 ml per day
- Fresh leaves may also be included in salads
There is no known toxicity regarding the ingestion of dandelion leaf. If you have a known allergy to dandelion, internal administration is ill-advised. Most allergic reactions resulting from dandelion are actually reactions to the pollen and not to the leaf (or root) itself.
Individuals who are taking a diuretics or any other medications to lower their blood pressure, should consult with their physician before adding dandelion leaf to their daily regimen because of the possible additive effects of lowering blood pressure.
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3. Chevallier A. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, 2nd Ed.; 2000. Dorling Kindersley, New York: 141.
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