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Dandelion’s Key Components, Health Benefits, Side Effects and Cautions

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Title : Dandelion’s Key Components, Health Benefits, Side Effects and Cautions
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Dandelion’s Key Components, Health Benefits, Side Effects and Cautions




Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) has a long history of using as a folk medicine in Europe, Asia, and American. Dandelion  grows in nature like weeds in everywhere from Asia, Europe, and America. You can find dandelion tea and supplements in many supermarkets as a dietary supplement. People use dandelions as a diuretic supplement, foods, and tonic drinks. Recent studies pay more attention to dandelion’s antioxidant activity. and its possible effects on obesity. cancer, and some cardiovascular risks. In many Vivo and Vitro research dandelion’s extracts have possible effects on obesity. Dandelion also supports the immune system, inflammation, and support cancer treatment.  Dandelion makes me surprised with tons of health benefits and potential. So that, today I will discuss dandelion's key components, benefits, side effects, and cautions.
Dandelion’s key components

All part of dandelion are edible and contains different polyphenol compounds.  Polyphenol contents in the flowers and leaves are much higher than in the roots. The dandelion's phytochemical composition depends on the season, time of harvesting, and ecological factors.

  • Dandelion has the rich sources potassium. One gram of dandelion leaves contains 29.68 mg of potassium. When you infuse dandelion leaf, potassium accounts for 67% of dandelion’s solubility. In a Spanish test, people found 519 mg/l of potassium after brewing 5g  of dandelion leaves at 70°C during 2 hrs.  
  • Major compounds in dandelion are chicoric acid, monoaffeoyltartaric acid, caffeic acid, and luteolin 7- diglucoside. Many studies found that chicoric acid has potential immunostimulatory activities. Other dandelion's chemical ingredients are sterine, nicotine acid, choline, various resins, and waxes.
  • Dandelion also contains several phenylpropanoids, terpenoids, and polysaccharides. These compounds play an important role in immune regulation, hepatoprotective effects, and antitumoral activity.(González-Castejón et al., 2012)
  • Dandelion roots and leaves contain sesquiterpene lactones. The sesquiterpene lactones bring the bitter test. This compound contributes dandelion’s anti-inflammatory and anticancer effect. The dandelion leaves have a higher amount of sesquiterpene lactones than the root.  In the spring, dandelion roots have higher sesquiterpene lactones than other time.
Leaf and flower:

- Main phenolic compounds in the leaves and the flowers are derivatives of hydroxycinnamic acid. Dandelion flowers main carotenoid pigment is a diester of taraxanthin (González-Castejón et al., 2012). Meanwhile,  sitosterol is the most abundant sterol in the leaves.

Dandelion root

- Carbohydrates such as inulin (ranging from 2% in spring to 40% in the fall).
- Carotenoids such as lutein, fatty acids.
- Flavonoids: apigenin and luteolin,
- Minerals such as potassium (up to 5%), phenolic acids (caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid)
- Phytosterols including sitosterol, stigmasterol, and taraxasterol, sugars, vitamin A, choline, mucilage and pectin.
- Selsesquiterpene lactones, triterpenes (b-amyrin, taraxol, and taraxerol)

Traditional usage

Traditional Chinese Medicine considered dandelion is sweet, drying, and cooling. Chinese people believe dandelion can clear the heat from the liver and support the stomach and lungs.
In Europe, since the 13th-century people has used dandelion as fresh juice or tonic to support the digestive and urinary systems. In America, various Native American tribes considered dandelion to be edible, a cleansing alternative, and a helpful healing poultice or compress.
Nowadays, people use dandelion as an herbal tea, juice or hydroalcoholic extract. People use dandelion to relieve mild digestive disorders and a temporary loss of appetite. The main usage of dandelion is a diuretic to increase the amount of urine and eliminate fluid in your body. However,  there are not so many studies on using dandelion as a diuretic in human.
Dandelion contains 5% of caffeine; people roast dandelion root to make coffee substitute beverage. We can steam the young leaves like spinach or just use it as fresh herbs. The young dandelion fresh leaves and flower are good in salads. Dandelion goes along with nutmeg, garlic, onion or lemon peel. My favorite side dish from dandelion is boiling young flowers for 1 or 2 minutes. Then I put flowers into olive oil with some fresh garlic for 24 hours or more. This dandelion flowers can use along with salad or pasta.  

The Health Evidences

Both in vitro and vivo studies are now supporting the long history of this plant as a folk medicine.  But, most scientific studies of dandelion come from animals research, not human. A few animal studies suggested that dandelion might help to fight inflammation, obesity, and cancer.

Antioxidant resources

We can use dandelion flowers, leaf, and root as the great source of natural antioxidant. Dandelion flowers have a high amount of phenolic compounds as flavonoids and coumaric acids. Dandelion's  polyphenol and flavonoid might protect us from free-radical formations. Flavonoids in dandelion tea can protect V79-4 cells from free-radical included toxicity.
A research on the mice provided evidence that dandelion’s antioxidant and antiproliferative activities have good effects on hepatic cells and gallbladder disorders.

Anti-inflammatory

Vitro studies show that dandelion root methanol extracts and leaf extract influences inflammatory mediators. Korean vivo studies showed that ethanol, aqueous and methanol in dandelion's extracts inhibit the production of inflammatory cytokines in rats.
A test in human found the anti-inflammatory activity when combined dandelion with six other herbs. The study found less rectal bleeding and anti-inflammatory activity in inflammatory bowel disease.
A recent study reveals that dandelion seems to have anti-inflammatory effects on an acute lung injury in mice induced by lipopolysaccharide (González-Castejón et al., 2012).

Anti-obesity

In 2010, Korean scientists found that dandelion extract had positively changed plasma antioxidant enzyme activities and lipid profiles in cholesterol-fed rabbits (Choi et al., 2010). However, the scientists recommended the further research on the anti-obesity effects of dandelion.


Natural alternative cancer treatment

Dandelion leaves contain flavonoids such as luteolin might exert pancreatic lipase inhibitory activity (González-Castejón et al.,2012). Pancreatic cancer has a 100% mortality rate. In 2012,  Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Windsor, Canada did a research to test the efficacy of dandelion root extract (DRE) in inducing apoptosis and autophagy in aggressive and resistant pancreatic cancer cells. The result showed that DRE caused the collapse of the mitochondrial membrane potential, leading to pro-death autophagy. Meanwhile, normal human fibroblasts were resistant at similar doses. In the December 2015, the Windsor university started a trial test in human. In the test, they used dandelion root extract as a treatment for patients with terminal cancer.
Dandelion's biological properties could be beneficial for hyperglycemia, hyperglycemia, and protect against liver damage.

Dosage

According to the report of European Medicines Agency an average daily dose for dandelion:
  • ‘‘3-4 g of cut or powdered drug three times (decoction in 150 ml of water) (Gehrmann B et al. 2005
  • 1 tablespoon full of drug (infusion in 150 ml of water) 0.75-1.0 g of native dry extract 4:1 m/m 3-4 ml fluid extract 1:1 (g/ml) (Blumenthal M et al. 1998).
  • 5-10 ml of tincture (1:5 in 45% ethanol), three times (British Herbal Pharmacopoeia 1996).
  • Adults: 4-10 g of the drug or as an infusion, three times daily. 2-5 ml of tincture (1:5, ethanol 25% V/V), three times daily. 5-10 ml of juice from the fresh leaf, twice daily (Bradley PR 1992).’’

There is no restriction on the duration of dandelion’s usage because of lacking information. However, the EMA report recommends limiting the duration of use to 2 weeks as the clinical safety studies are lacking.  



Side Effect and PRECAUTIONS

There are no clinical safety data on extracts of dandelion.  In the EU traditional medicinal, no serious adverse effects have been reported.
  • Ask your doctor before using herbal products if you are pregnant, nursing, or using any medications.
  • The data on using dandelion for children or adolescents are not available. Do not use dandelion for children under 12 years old, during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Do not use dandelion extracts in cases of active peptic ulcer or biliary diseases except under expert professional supervision.
  • Not recommended in patients with renal failure or heart failure due to potential hyperkalemia.
  • Do not use this plant in case of obstructions of bile ducts, cholangitis, liver diseases, and gallstones.
  • There is an evidence on dandelion can reduce fertility in male rats but no human studies have confirmed this. But in Jordan people use dandelion as a male fertility enhancer.
  • Interactions: dandelion might alter the absorption of ciprofloxacin, based on an animal study.

Note

Many studies show that dandelion absorbs heavy metal in phytoremediation of agricultural land. Do not pick dandelion grown in recreational parks. Dandelion grows off the side of roads and backyards where people used herbicide, are not good too. Dandelion can absorb lead in high pollution area.
This is some main information about dandelion actually it is quite long already. I hope you can find some information you need. Maybe I need a second post for deeper information about dandelion health benefits. How it works and support cancer prevention. Do not hesitate to let me know what do you think about my works. Share with me what do you know about dandelions and see you soon.

References

  • Gonzalez-Castejon, M., Visioli, F., & Rodriguez-Casado, A. (2012). Diverse biological activities of dandelion. Nutr Rev, 70(9), 534-547. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2012.00509.x
  •  Jeon, Hye-Jin, Kang, Hyun-Jung, Jung, Hyun-Joo, Kang, Young-Sook, Lim, Chang-Jin, Kim, Young-Myeong, & Park, Eun-Hee. (2008). Anti-inflammatory activity of Taraxacum officinale. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 115(1), 82-88. doi:

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