Taraxacum officinale, commonly called dandelion, is a hardy perennial herb and has spatula-like leaves that are often used in cooking. Dandelion root is used as a complementary medicine in the treatment of breast cancer in the United States; however, the mechanism of action by which dandelion would exert this effect is not fully understood. Before you decide to take dandelion root, be sure to consult your doctor first.
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Scientists at the Baylor College of Medicine have discovered the cancer chemopreventive potential of dandelion root against breast cancer. Conventional anti-cancer drugs target only the bulk of the tumor cell population, but not the rarer cancer stem cells, which are capable of indefinite self-renewal and proliferation, says Michael Lewis, Ph.D., an assistant professor of molecular and cellular biology at the Baylor College of Medicine. The results of this experiment, published in the “Journal of the National Cancer Institute,” showed that dandelion root kills both breast cancer stem cells and the bulk of the tumor.
A study by S.J. Chatterjee and colleagues published in the journal “Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine” on December 30, 2010, reported that dandelion root can be a major strategy to prevent chemical-mediated breast cancer because it can detoxify carcinogens, thus protecting tissues against carcinogenesis. In MCF-7 breast cancer cells, dandelion root extract also showed the capacity to induce apoptosis, or programmed cell death, study findings have suggested.
Dandelion root is available as a supplement in several forms, including tinctures, liquid extract, teas, tablets and capsules. Various research studies have demonstrated that dandelion root may be used alone or in conjunction with other herbs to prevent the occurrence and spread of breast cancer. For children, dandelion root extract should only be used under physician supervision. For adults, a daily intake of 500 mg of a standardized power extract one to three times a day is safe and potent, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Dandelion root is perceived as being generally safe, although allergic reactions occasionally happen in people from touching dandelion. Do not take dandelion if you have allergies to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, daisies and iodine. People with chronic heartburn, gallbladder inflammation, bile duct obstruction and gastrointestinal disorders also should avoid it.