This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Taraxacum Pharm. Lond. & Edinb. Dens leonis latiore folio, & angustiore folio C. B. Leontodon Taraxacum Linn. Dandelion: a low plant, with long, narrow, deeply indented or jagged leaves, lying on the ground; among which arises a single, naked, hollow pedicle; bearing a large yellow flofculous flower, set in a double cup, the outermost of which consists of several little oblong leaves turned downwards: the flower is followed by small seeds, covered with a tuft of long down: the root is oblong, slender, yellowish or brownish on the outside, and white within. It is perennial, common in uncultivated grounds, and flowers from April to the end of summer.
(a) Gent. Mag. 1766, 175, and 1771, 409.
The roots, leaves, and flower-stalks of dandelion abound with a bitterish milky juice, of no smell or particular flavour. They promise to be medicines of no inconsiderable efficacy in sundry chronical disorders, as mild detergents and aperients, similar to the cichoreum silvestre, but stronger. Boerhaave had a high opinion of this and the other lactescent plants; and esteems them capable, if duly continued, of resolving very obstinate coagulations and ob-structions of the viscera. Their more immediate sensible operation is, to loosen the belly, promote the urinary discharge, and render the water high coloured, without exciting any preternatural heat. * Bergius affirms that he has frequently succeeded in resolving fcirrhi of the liver, by the long continued use of a decoction of dandelion root and sorrel leaves in whey or water, with the addition of yolk of egg; at the same time giving cream of tartar. This method alio succeeded in the stone of the gallbladder, and ascites (a).
The expressed juice of the plant has been taken to the quantity of a quarter of a pint or more, three or four times a day: it seems to lose nothing of its virtue in being gently inspissated, to the consistence of an extract; which is moderately and not unpleasantly bitter, with some degree of sweetishness. The dried roots, which are stronger in taste than the leaves, give out their virtues both to water and rectified spirit; and tinge the former of a brown, the latter of a yellow colour. The tinctures and infusions, gently infpiffated, differ little from the infpiffated juice; except that the watery extract: is rather weaker; and that the spirituous, which is in smaller quantity, has a stronger bitter taste, and discovers also a flight aftrin-gency. Cartheufer says, that the watery extract amounts to one fourth, the spirituous only to one eighth the weight of the root.
(n) Mat. med. 648.
Neither the plant in substance, nor its preparations, bear keeping well: after the dried root had lain about a twelvemonth, its bitter-ness was wholly lost, and only a flight sweetishness remained: an extract made from the fresh root, infpiffated to dryness, and kept for the same length of time, suffered nearly the same change.