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The Potential Of Dandelion Root In Fighting Cancer

Dandelion Root For Cancer

Antioxidant-rich dandelion root extract (DRE) holds promise as a gentler alternative to cancer treatments like surgery or chemotherapy. It could cut your cancer risk by fighting free radical damage and causing programmed cell death of tumor cells (apoptosis) while leaving healthy cells unscathed. DRE offers hope in the face of hard-to-beat pancreatic cancer and chemoresistant melanomas. It could even benefit those with colon or colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, and leukemia – but with some caveats.

Dandelion root extract (DRE) isn’t exactly new to anyone familiar with traditional Chinese medicine or even traditional Native American medicine. But suggestions that it could help prevent or even cure cancer have piqued the interest of those fighting cancer. So how does this natural alternative herbal remedy fare when it comes to actual tests and trials? Here’s a closer look that gets to the root of the matter.

Antioxidant Properties And Vitamin K Help Fight Cancer

Extracts of dandelion flower tested for their antioxidant properties in vitro showed free radical scavenging activities. They also helped reduce breakage of supercoiled DNA strands. Damage to these DNA strands aids the development of cancer.1 The leaf extracts also are abundant in polyphenols that exhibit high antioxidant properties.2

Dandelion root has shown potential as a natural means to fight colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and both chronic myelomonocytic and human T cell leukemia. What makes it especially compelling is that it does not seem to be toxic to non-cancerous cells. In other words, it targets tumor cells specifically and doesn’t cause collateral damage to the surrounding healthy cells.3

Animal studies have found that higher antioxidant levels in the body may help prevent free radical damage linked to cancer development. But whether taking antioxidants through diet can help is not established yet – observational studies on the role of dietary antioxidant supplementation in lowering cancer risk in humans have had mixed results.4 That said, you could 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 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.5

Targets Multiple Vulnerabilities Of Colorectal Cancer Cells

In in-vitro studies, DRE has been found to cause the selective programmed cell death of over 95 percent of colon cancer cells. In in-vivo studies, researchers found that DRE taken orally 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, targeting them on more than one vulnerability.6

Brings Hope As A Possible Cure For 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 (programmed cell death) in cancerous pancreatic cells in humans, with no significant effect on healthy cells.7 Researchers see this as a heartening development in pancreatic cancer treatment.

Suppresses Gastric Cancer Cell Proliferation

DRE could help suppress the proliferation as well as migration of gastric cancer tumor cells, with no adverse impact or toxicity on non-cancerous cells. Gastric cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world and the use of DRE to fight this cancer is being studied actively.8

Fights Chemoresistant Melanomas

DRE has been seen to help induce apoptosis or programmed cell death in the human melanoma cells, with no negative impact on healthy cells. This makes it a possible natural alternative to surgical or more aggressive treatments for chemoresistant melanomas.9

Offers Hope In Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia Treatment

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.10

Avoid Dandelion Root For Treating Hormone-Sensitive Cancers

Do not assume that DRE is a catch-all remedy for all cancers. Dandelion root should only be used for the specific cancers it has been studied for. Experimenting with it if you have a hormone-sensitive cancer can be especially dangerous. Dandelion has estrogenic activity and may even cause the cancer cells to grow and proliferate.11

Further Clinical Trials And Human Studies Still Needed

Another reason to exercise some caution when using dandelion root as a treatment is that the clinical trials on humans haven’t delivered the definitive results everyone has been hoping for.12 That said, its health-boosting and cancer-preventive properties suggest that there may be some merit to taking dandelion root or flower extracts. Whether or not you can call dandelion root tea or its extracts an effective cure for cancer is a different story – one that science will still need to validate.

Side Effects Of Dandelion Root

If you decide to take dandelion root for treating or preventing cancer, you should know that it is also known to promote urination. So 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.

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. 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. It may also trigger allergic reactions, especially in children. So be wary and start small, especially in the beginning.13

References   [ + ]

1. 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.
2. 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.
3. The Dandelion Root Project. University of Windsor.
4. Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention. National Cancer Institute.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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).
10. 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.
11, 12, 13. Dandelion. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.