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Dandelion and Water Retention

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Dandelion acts like an effective natural diuretic to treat edema.

Edema, also known as water retention, can cause swelling in the feet, legs, ankles, fingers, and arms. It is a symptom that's sometimes related to a certain disease or disorder. 

There are several over the counter diuretics available to treat edema. However, if you prefer natural remedies then you may consider using herbs such as dandelion extracts.

The common dandelion, a yellow flowering weed, has been traditionally used as a natural diuretic. In Europe, dandelion extracts are used for many medical conditions and are approved by the German Commission E to reduce edema.

Historically, dandelion has been used for liver and kidney disease and complications associated with the spleen. The modern-day uses of dandelion focus on fluid retention. 

What is Dandelion?

Dandelion is the name of Taraxacum, a large family of flowering plants found everywhere in the world. The perennial herb has bright, yellow flowers and slender, hollow stalk. Its seeds emerge from the ripened flower and float off on hairy “parachutes” attached to them.

Every part of the plant can be used in herbal preparations.

Although all parts of the dandelion are edible, it is considered a weed. However, it is a beneficial weed which helps soils fix nitrogen, bring up nutrients for garden plants with shallow roots, attract pollinating insects and releases ethylene which promotes fruit ripening.

The flowering heads are used in making dandelion wine. The roots can be dried and powdered to make dandelion coffee which has no caffeine. It is also found in root beer.

Dandelion is a powerhouse of nutrients. It contains vitamins A, C, E, and K as well as members of the vitamin B complex such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid and pantothenic acid.

It also contains these minerals: iron, calcium, potassium, and manganese. Other notable contents of dandelion include inulin, choline, and dietary fiber.

The biologically active compounds of dandelion extract include taraxasterol, huma taraxasterol, taraxacin, and taraxacerin.

Dandelion is a tonic, a stimulant, and a diuretic. It is used to detoxify the kidneys and liver. Topical preparations of the herb are also used to treat skin diseases.

How Does It Work? 

Dandelion acts as a natural diuretic, causing kidneys to increase the volume of urine and expel the extra salt accumulated inside the body. 

By stimulating more urine production, dandelion affects the blood volume and water balance in your body, causing excess fluid to move out of the body tissues. 

The potential changes brought about by the herb in fluid balance, is a reduction in fluid retention and the lowering of the blood pressure

While the exact mechanism of the diuretic effects of dandelion is not well studied, scientists have confirmed that it has a strong diuretic activity which is comparable to conventional diuretic drugs.

The diuretic effect of dandelion is believed to be due to taraxasterol. This plant sterol removes fluids from spaces between tissues and the skin. It tightens the muscles by this action and is often used by bodybuilders for this effect.

The herbal extract of dandelion used to make diuretic preparations is taken from the leaves. The roots of the plant are usually used in making herbal laxative.

However, the most important aspect of the diuretic action of dandelion is that the herb also contains potassium. Unlike most diuretics, this natural preparation does not cause hypokalemia. Instead, it supplies potassium to the body.

This is beneficial when dandelion is used exclusively as a diuretic or when combined with loop and thiazide diuretics.

However, when dandelion is taken along with potassium-sparing diuretics, there is a significant risk of hyperkalemia from accumulated potassium in the body.

Case Studies 

In a clinical study of dandelion as a possible diuretic, published in the "Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine" in 2009, individuals consumed dandelion extracts over 24 hours, with their urinary production measured every five hours. 

The dandelion extracts caused a significant rise in the amount of urine produced after every two doses. Although this was a comparatively smaller study without a control group, the results suggest that dandelion may be used as an effective diuretic. 

Recommended Dosage 

Dandelion is available as a dried herb or as an extract in most health food stores. You may take 500 mg in capsule or tablet form, one to three times daily. The dried herb may be used to make tea by soaking up in hot water for five to ten minutes. 

Are There Any Side Effects? 

Dandelion is generally considered safe. However, there have been reports of mild upset stomach and diarrhea. Some people may also be allergic to the plant. 

People with an infected or inflamed gallbladder, or blocked bile ducts, should avoid using dandelion, or talk to a doctor before taking it. You should tell your doctor about any complementary and alternative medications you use to maintain your health. 

Are There Any Drug Interactions?

You should avoid taking dandelion along with antibiotics as it might decrease the effectiveness of some drugs, such as: 

Ciprofloxacin, sparfloxacin, trovafloxacin, norfloxacin, levofloxacin, lomefloxacin, enoxacin, moxifloxacin, norfloxacin, gatifloxacin (Tequin), ofloxacin, and grepafloxacin. 

You should also avoid using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be altered. 

Try a Natural Supplement - Capisette 

If you are looking for a natural fluid retention remedy that contains dandelion extracts, consider using Capisette. It is an effective alternative to prescription diuretics. It contains ingredients that replenish the body with lost nutrients and helps in reducing water retention.

Next Article: Edema Diet: Foods to Avoid for Edema