The dandelion is commonly used in salads and to make wine, and it has traditionally been thought to have many nutritional and health benefits, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Topped with a yellow flower, the dandelion can grow to a height of nearly 12 inches. The leaves are spatula-shaped and shiny. The roots are dark brown, fleshy and brittle and filled with a milky substance that tastes bitter and has a slight odor. Herbalists have treated many ailments with the dandelion for centuries. However, dandelion, like many herbs, does have some side effects.
Abdominal Pain & Heartburn
Dandelion root may sometimes cause stomachache and heartburn, according to NaturalHerbsGuide.com. Studies show it can increase stomach acid, so if you suffer from either of these issues, it's advised that you use caution and seek the advice of a health care provider before using dandelion.
Blood Sugar Effects
Preliminary studies have suggested that dandelion can help normalize blood sugar levels in diabetic mice, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). However, not all studies have shown the same results, and the effect in humans is not tested. Diabetics should use dandelion root tea with caution and consult a physician before adding dandelion to the diet.
Allergic reaction from touching the dandelion has occurred, according to Medline Plus. Some individuals have developed mouth sores. If you have an allergy to other plants like ragweed, chrysanthemums, chamomile, yarrow, daisies, marigolds or iodine, you should not use dandelion.
Mediline Plus warns that parasitic infection due to use of contaminated plants has been reported. The liver and bile ducts have been affected. Symptoms of parasitic infection are fever, stomach upset, vomiting, loss of appetite and coughing. Such infections can damage the liver.
Possible Drug Interactions
According to UMMC, dandelion root may interact with prescription medications. The excretion of drugs from the body may be accelerated by dandelion root tea.
Taraxacum mongolicum (also called Chinese dandelion) may hinder the absorption of Quinolone antibiotics (ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, and levofloxacin). Although, the University of Maryland Medical Center notes that it has not been shown that the common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) interacts the same way, the center advises that dandelion (no matter what type) should not be ingested when using these antibiotics.
Medications that lower stomach acid, like Pepcid, Zantac, etc., should be avoided, as dandelion root may increase stomach acid and decrease their effects, according to UMMC.
Studies suggest that dandelion may worsen side effects related to lithium, which is a medication used to treat bipolar disorder, according to UMMC.
Anticoagulants or "Blood Thinners"
Mediline Plus reports that chemicals called coumarins are found in dandelion leaf extracts. Many dandelion root teas and capsules include this extract; the risk of bleeding increases when taking these drugs with dandelion root. These drugs include aspirin, anti-platelet drugs, anticoagulants such as warfarin or hepalin, and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen.