If you walk past my home you’ll know if from the dandelions that grow rampant on the front lawn. While neighbors continue to douse the yellow flowers with pesticides, like Monsanto’s Round-Up, which have been shown to cause cancer, I prefer to let the resilient and prevalent flowers grow. That’s because, in addition to dandelion’s excellent nutritional benefits, it is increasingly being shown in research to have potent anti-cancer properties.
One of the most exciting studies about dandelion’s anti-cancer abilities was published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada in conjunction with the Windsor Regional Cancer Center tested the effects of an extract of dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale) on melanoma—an aggressive form of skin cancer. The scientists found that after 48 hours of exposure to the dandelion extract cancer cells begin to die off. The study also found that dandelion was effective on cancer cells that were resistant to chemotherapy.
Other research published in the International Journal of Oncology suggests that the humble dandelion—the weed so many people love to hate—may offer new hope in the battle against cancer. The researchers tested various parts of the plant, which they made into herbal teas and assessed the effects on both breast and prostate cancers. They found that a tea made from the leaves decreased the growth of breast cancer cells while a tea made from the root blocked the ability of cancer cells to invade healthy breast tissue and healthy prostate tissue.
In another study published in the online medical journal PLoS One, researchers found that an extract of dandelion root was able to selectively and efficiently kill cancer cells without toxicity to healthy cells. They concluded that dandelion root and other natural medicines have “great potential, as non-toxic and effective alternatives to conventional modes of chemotherapy available today.”
According to a study published in the journal Molecular Carcinogenesis, one of the ways that dandelion root seems to work is by making cancer cells more vulnerable to being destroyed through the body’s natural process known as apoptosis, which causes cancer cells to essentially commit suicide. The study also found that dandelion root seems to increase the effectiveness of other cancer treatments used alongside it.
The studies use either dandelion root tinctures (alcohol extracts) or dandelion root or leaf tea to obtain their results. In my experience the dandelion root tinctures tend to be more potent than tea. You can also supplement with dandelion root capsules. I like Nature’s Way and Now brands. Choose a reputable brand of dandelion tincture such as Herb Pharm for best results. Follow package instructions or work with a qualified herbalist.
Another way to reap the health benefits of dandelion root involves roasting dandelion root at 200 degrees for 2 hours or until completely dry and then grinding in a coffee grinder. Add a tablespoon or two to almond or coconut milk and a dash of stevia (a naturally sweet herb that doesn’t impact blood sugar levels), blend and pour over ice for a delicious, naturally anti-cancer iced beverage. Alternatively, many health food stores carry bulk dandelion root that you can roast and grind or you can buy Frontier’s pre-dried and pre-roasted dandelion root, which I tend to like since it saves time and is easier to make a regular part of your diet.
For more information on natural approaches to cancer check out my e-book CANCER-PROOF.