Dandelion root has shown potential as a natural means to fight colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and both chronic myelomonocytic and human T cell leukemia. Moreover, it targets tumor cells specifically and doesn’t cause collateral damage to the surrounding healthy cells.1
Dandelion root isn’t exactly new to anyone familiar with traditional Chinese medicine or even traditional Native American medicine. But suggestions that dandelion root extract could help prevent or even cure cancer have piqued the interest of those fighting cancer. Theoretically, considering cancer is caused by free radicals, dandelion should help as an antioxidant agent.
- Antioxidants: Extracts of dandelion flower tested for their antioxidant properties on cells isolated from the body (in vitro) showed free radical-scavenging activities. They also helped reduce breakage of DNA strands.2 The leaf extracts also are abundant in polyphenols that exhibit high antioxidant properties.3 Cancer is thought to be triggered by DNA damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants combat oxidative damage caused by the free radicals by preventing their formation and by neutralizing them before they can damage cells.
- Vitamin K: Dandelion and its extracts are also rich in vitamin K. This is another reassuring fact because the nutrient may be able to help significantly lower cancer risk.4
But how does this natural alternative herbal remedy fare when it comes to actual tests and trials? Most studies have been conducted in vitro, that is on cells isolated from the body and tested under controlled conditions in the laboratory, or on animals. These show positive results. However, there haven’t been many human trials. Further clinical trials and human studies are required to firmly establish dandelion root as a cancer cure. Here’s a look at the benefits of dandelion root for various types of cancers.
1. Helps Kill Colorectal Cancer Cells
In in vitro studies, DRE has been found to cause the selective programmed cell death or apoptosis of over 95 percent of colon cancer cells. In in vivo studies on mouse models, researchers found that taken orally, DRE could help retard the growth of these cells by over 90 percent. The DRE treatment causes multiple death pathways in tumor cells to be activated.5
2. May Cure Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer currently has a 100 percent mortality rate, so any potential treatment is more than welcome. DRE has been seen to induce autophagy (the body’s natural destructive mechanism) as well as apoptosis in cancerous pancreatic cells in humans, with no significant effect on healthy cells.6 Researchers see this as a heartening development in pancreatic cancer treatment.
3. Suppresses Growth Of Stomach Cancer Cells
DRE could help suppress the growth as well as the spread of stomach or gastric cancer tumor cells, with no adverse impact or toxicity on non-cancerous cells. Stomach cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world and the use of DRE to fight this cancer is being studied actively.7
4. Helps Kill Skin Cancer (Melanoma) Cells
DRE has been seen to help induce apoptosis in the human melanoma cells – a type of skin cancer that resists chemotherapy – without any negative impact on healthy cells. This makes it a possible natural alternative to surgical or more aggressive treatments for melanomas.8
5. May Treat Bone Marrow Cancer (Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia)
This form of cancer of the bone marrow’s blood-forming cells and blood is notoriously hard to treat. Most people develop resistance to the treatment quite quickly, creating a pressing need for alternative cures. Among natural products, DRE has been identified as a remedy with a lot of potential, given its non-toxic properties and effectiveness. However, further study is needed to see just how effective it can be.9
6. May Aggravate Hormone-Sensitive Cancers
Dandelion may not be a catch-all remedy for all cancers, and there is some confusion over whether it helps hormone-sensitive cancers like breast cancer (sensitive to estrogen) and prostate cancer (sensitive to testosterone). A study has found that a water-based extract of the leaf decreased the growth of breast cancer cells and the spread of prostate cancer cells, while the root extract blocked the spread of breast cancer cells.10 However, experts claim that dandelion has estrogenic activity and may even cause hormone-sensitive cancer cells to grow and proliferate. Experimenting with it if you have a hormone-sensitive cancer can be especially dangerous.11
Further Clinical Trials And Human Studies Still Needed
As promising as the information about dandelion’s anticancer activities is, remember that it is not a miracle cure. While laboratory studies on dandelion root extract have found positive results, clinical trials on humans haven’t delivered the definitive results everyone has been hoping for.12 That said, dandelion’s health-boosting and cancer-preventive properties suggest that there may be some merit to taking dandelion root or flower extracts. So consult your doctor or specialists to see if DRE could be beneficial for the kind of cancer you are dealing with or trying to prevent.
Dandelion Root May Have Side Effects Too
If you decide to try dandelions, do exercise some caution since dandelion is not suitable for everyone. Also remember that while dietary antioxidants found in whole foods can help you greatly, antioxidant supplements may not be as effective.13 14 Here are the side effects of dandelion you need to be aware of.
- Increase in urine output: Since dandelion is a diuretic, you could expect an increase in the frequency of urination. You may also have mild diarrhea. Some people experience heartburn and stomach inflammation as well.
- Drop in blood sugar: Dandelion root also has the potential to lower blood sugar, something to be aware of if you are on hypoglycemic drugs that lower sugar already.
- Toxicity: Because dandelion tea contains a lot of oxalates, it is better to avoid the remedy if your kidney function is weak due to chronic kidney disease – else it could cause toxicity.
- Allergic reaction: Dandelion may also trigger allergic reactions, especially in children. So be wary and start small.15
|↑1||The Dandelion Root Project. University of Windsor.|
|↑2||Hu, Chun, and David D. Kitts. “Antioxidant, prooxidant, and cytotoxic activities of solvent-fractionated dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) flower extracts in vitro.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 51, no. 1 (2003): 301-310.|
|↑3||Ivanov, Ivan Georgiev. “Polyphenols content and antioxidant activities of Taraxacum officinale FH Wigg (dandelion) leaves.” International Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemical Research 6, no. 4 (2014): 889-893.|
|↑4||Juanola-Falgarona, Martí, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Miguel Ángel Martínez-González, Dolores Corella, Ramón Estruch, Emili Ros, Montserrat Fitó et al. “Dietary intake of vitamin K is inversely associated with mortality risk.” The Journal of nutrition 144, no. 5 (2014): 743-750.|
|↑5||Ovadje, Pamela, Saleem Ammar, Jose-Antonio Guerrero, John Thor Arnason, and Siyaram Pandey. “Dandelion root extract affects colorectal cancer proliferation and survival through the activation of multiple death signalling pathways.” Oncotarget 7, no. 45 (2016): 73080.|
|↑6||Ovadje, Pamela, Madona Chochkeh, Pardis Akbari-Asl, Caroline Hamm, and Siyaram Pandey. “Selective induction of apoptosis and autophagy through treatment with dandelion root extract in human pancreatic cancer cells.” Pancreas 41, no. 7 (2012): 1039-1047.|
|↑7||Zhu, Huanhuan, Hangyong Zhao, Linjie Zhang, Jianmin Xu, Chunhua Zhu, Hui Zhao, and Guoqiang Lv. “Dandelion root extract suppressed gastric cancer cells proliferation and migration through targeting lncRNA-CCAT1.” Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy 93 (2017): 1010-1017.|
|↑8||Chatterjee, S. J., P. Ovadje, M. Mousa, C. Hamm, and S. Pandey. “The efficacy of dandelion root extract in inducing apoptosis in drug-resistant human melanoma cells.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011 (2011).|
|↑9||Ovadje, Pamela, Caroline Hamm, and Siyaram Pandey. “Efficient induction of extrinsic cell death by dandelion root extract in human chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML) cells.” PloS one 7, no. 2 (2012): e30604.|
|↑10||Sigstedt, Sophia C., Carla J. Hooten, Manika C. Callewaert, Aaron R. Jenkins, Anntherese E. Romero, Michael J. Pullin, Alexander Kornienko, Timothy K. Lowrey, S. Van Slambrouck, and Wim FA Steelant. “Evaluation of aqueous extracts of Taraxacum officinale on growth and invasion of breast and prostate cancer cells.” International journal of oncology 32, no. 5 (2008): 1085-1090.|
|↑11, ↑12, ↑15||Dandelion. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.|
|↑13||Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention. National Cancer Institute.|
|↑14||How Antioxidants Work. Berkeley Wellness.|