Plants belonging to the genus Taraxacum have been used in traditional healthcare to treat infectious diseases including food-borne infections. This review aims to summarize the available information on Taraxacum spp., focusing on plant cultivation, ethnomedicinal uses, bioactive phytochemicals, and antimicrobial properties. Phytochemicals present in Taraxacum spp. include sesquiterpene lactones, such as taraxacin, mongolicumin B, and taraxinic acid derivatives; triterpenoids, such as taraxasterol, taraxerol, and officinatrione; and phenolic derivatives, such as hydroxycinnamic acids (chlorogenic, chicoric, and caffeoyltartaric acids), coumarins (aesculin and cichoriin), lignans (mongolicumin A), and taraxacosides. Aqueous and organic extracts of different plant parts exhibit promising in vitro antimicrobial activity relevant for controlling fungi and Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Therefore, this genus represents a potential source of bioactive phytochemicals with broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity. However, so far, preclinical evidence for these activities has not been fully substantiated by clinical studies. Indeed, clinical evidence for the activity of Taraxacum bioactive compounds is still scant, at least for infectious diseases, and there is limited information on oral bioavailability, pharmacological activities, and safety of Taraxacum products in humans, though their traditional uses would suggest that these plants are safe.
Keywords: Taraxacum; antibiotic resistance; antimicrobial activity; food preservatives; functional foods; nutraceuticals.
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.