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Dandelion Root & Gout

By Karyn Maier

Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis characterized by sudden and recurring episodes of pain and swelling in one or more joints, often affecting the joint of the big toe. This condition is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the synovial fluid that surrounds and cushions each joint. Eventually, urate crystals form, causing pain and inflammation of the synovium tissue. Dandelion root is a traditional treatment for gout, because its diuretic properties increase urine flow and the elimination of uric acid. See your doctor before self-treating your condition to rule out other joint and kidney disorders and to avoid possible side effects from this herb.

Treatment Approach

According to, your body manufactures uric acid for the purpose of breaking down purines, naturally occurring substances found in virtually every cell of all plants and animals, which form the building blocks of DNA. Normally, purines degrade along with cells as they die off and get recycled during regular cellular turnover. Uric acid is the by-product remaining when the decomposition of purines is complete, so the presence of a certain level of this substance in the blood is perfectly normal. Problems occur when this acid isn’t properly filtered and eliminated by the kidneys. Conventional treatment includes medications to address pain and reduce inflammation, as well as drugs that either reduce uric acid production or facilitate its removal from the kidneys.

Dandelion Pharmacology

The “Physicians’ Desk Reference for Herbal Medicines” identifies several sesquiterpene lactones and sterols in dandelion, including beta-sitosterol. The herb also contains apigenin, a substance widely distributed throughout the plant kingdom and associated with analgesic and anti-inflammatory qualities. The bitter compounds in the root are cholagogic in the upper intestinal tract, which means they stimulate the production of bile. A review of the pharmacological profile of dandelion published in the Oct. 11, 2006 issue of the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology” described several biological effects of the herb supported by research, including diuretic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

Treatment for Gout

Gout is among the long list of ailments dandelion root is traditionally used to treat in herbal medicine. According to the PDR, dandelion root is used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine to treat gout, kidney disease and urinary tract disorders. In Europe, the German E Commission, a regulatory agency similar to the Federal Drug Administration in the United States, approved dandelion for the treatment of urinary tract infections. Successful treatment of gout is attributed to an increase in urine output by enhancing the elimination of salt and water from the kidneys.

Safety Considerations

You should not use dandelion root if you have a known allergy to plants in the daisy family. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, compounds in this herb may interfere with the absorption or performance of other medications, such as quinolone antibiotics and lithium. Check with your doctor before using this herb if you have a history of gallbladder disease.

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