The wispy dandelion often stands for hope, and now it’s offering exactly that in cancer therapy! Traditional Chinese, native American, and Eastern medicine have long emphasized the role of dandelion in treating a variety of conditions, including cancer. In naturopathy too, dandelion is identified as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiproliferative agent. And now, taking this forward, recent studies have been exploring the role of dandelion as a potential agent for curing cancer. The results are proving quite exciting and promising.
Dandelion And Cancer
Studies show that dandelion root extract can effectively kill cancer cells while causing no harm to adjoining cells. For most cancers, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the treatments of choice, followed by surgical excision. But all of these methods can have serious side effects. Dandelion root, on the other hand, works by acting directly on cancer cells while sparing normal adjacent cells, thus nullifying the side effects associated with chemotherapy or the risk of metastasis in cases of surgical excision.1
Interestingly, it is the antioxidant property of the extract that is instrumental in killing cancer cells. Phenylpropanoids, specifically chicoric acid, present in abundance in dandelion have antioxidant properties.2 The root extract of dandelion, when administered in a regulated dose at specific times induced cell death by blocking receptors on cancer cells in cases of leukemia3 and pancreatic cancer.4
Another study found that extracts from both dandelion leaves and roots decreased the growth and spread of certain cancer cells (in breast and prostate cancers).5
And wait, it doesn’t stop there. Dandelion’s ability to treat cancers that have been resistant to drugs and chemotherapy has caused a flurry of excitement. Some types of cancer in young people, such as melanoma that is resistant to chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and immunotherapy, leave doctors with little choice but to remove the affected organ, causing a decline in the patient’s quality of life. Dandelion root extract proved effective in treating some of these stubborn cancers that were resistant to other forms of treatment, and that too with no side effects on healthy cells.6 Pancreatic cancer, which has a 100% mortality rate, has been effectively treated in lab studies using dandelion root extract. Research on leukemia cells has also shown positive outcomes.
Research on the benefits of dandelion extracts in cancer therapy is picking up pace, moving from lab studies to actual clinical trials. The Dandelion Root Project at the University of Windsor, Canada, for instance, is dedicated to exploring the anticarcinogenic qualities of dandelion. Both lab and clinical studies are underway.7
Can dandelion also help prevent cancer? So far studies have not established the pre-emptive qualities of dandelion extracts in fighting cancer. But, with its high antioxidant concentration, dandelion root has shown promise in treating various allergies and repairing the liver.8 It is also a rich source of vitamins and iron, and helps flush out toxins and fortify the immune system.9 So having a cup of dandelion root tea can only do you a world of good. And its anticarcinogenic qualities, once established firmly, will be a priceless bonus!
Ways To Consume Dandelion
Dandelion root extract pills are available in health food stores. It is also commonly had as tea or added to coffee substitutes and can be brewed at home. You can also consider adding dandelion leaves to your salads. But remember to drink up a few extra glasses of water as it can increase urine output.
For cancer treatment, since research is still in nascent stages, you will need expert help to decide how and when you can have dandelion extracts and in what quantities. Whether it’s for general immunity or for its cancer-fighting qualities, be sure to consult your doctor or a qualified naturopath before you give dandelion a shot.
|↑1, ↑6||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 (2010).|
|↑2||Ivan Ivanov. “Polyphenols Content and Antioxidant Activities of Taraxacum officinale F.H Wigg (Dandelion) Leaves,” International Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemical Research (Impact Factor: 1.1). 12/2014; 6(4):889-893.|
|↑3||Ovadje, P., S. Chatterjee, C. Griffin, C. Tran, C. Hamm, and S. Pandey. “Selective induction of apoptosis through activation of caspase-8 in human leukemia cells (Jurkat) by dandelion root extract.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 133, no. 1 (2011): 86-91.|
|↑4||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.|
|↑5||Sigstedt, Sophia C., Carla J. Hooten, Manika C. Callewaert, Aaron R. Jenkins, Anntherese E. Romero, Michael J. Pullin, Alexander Kornienko, Timothy K. Lowrey, Severine 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.|
|↑7||The Dandelion Root Project. University of Windsor.|
|↑8||González-Castejón, Marta, Francesco Visioli, and Arantxa Rodriguez-Casado. “Diverse biological activities of dandelion.” Nutrition reviews 70, no. 9 (2012): 534-547.|
|↑9||Menghini, L., S. Genovese, F. Epifano, B. Tirillini, C. Ferrante, and L. Leporini. “Antiproliferative, protective and antioxidant effects of artichoke, dandelion, turmeric and rosemary extracts and their formulation.”International journal of immunopathology and pharmacology 23, no. 2 (2010): 601-610.|