5 Amazing Medicinal Properties of Dandelion

Dandelion is viewed by some as an invasive weed. But dandelion is a treasure filled with powerful medicinal properties. Dandelion offers a long list of bio-active components with potential anti-diabetic properties. The anti-diabetic properties of dandelion are attributed to bioactive chemical components found in the plant. They include chicoric acid, taraxasterol, chlorogenic acid, and sesquiterpene lactones.

Dandelion is from the Taraxacum genus, and from the Asteraceae family. It is found in the temperate zone of the Northern hemisphere. It is also found in several areas around the world. In many countries, it is used as food and also as medicine helping to control type II diabetes.

A WHO survey indicated that 70–80% of the world’s population is relying on non-conventional medicines such as herbs.

Studies have outlined the useful pharmacological profile of dandelion for the treatment of many diseases, but little attention has been paid to the effects of its bio-active components on type II diabetes, and that is worth exploring.

Anti-diabetic properties of dandelion

Diabetes type II has a huge economic impact all around the world. Treatments are often expensive, complicated and ineffective. To cut costs, and explore new form of treatment, many are seeking alternatives among herbs and natural cures [11]

Bioactive components found in dandelion have demonstrated several of anti-diabetic effects,
which are due to the pharmacological actions of components such as

  • Sesquiterpene lactones
  • Taraxasterol
  • phenols
  • flavonoids
  • phenolic acids

What are these chemicals and how do they work?

1. Sesquiterpene lactones

These bioactive chemicals are common in plants of the Asteraceae family. These chemicals are:

  • anti-bacterial
  • fungicidal
  • growth regulating
  • anti-mutagenic
  • repellent
  • anti inflammatory

Sesquiterpenes are colorless and activate the bitter reflexes helping the digestive system. The bitter taste receptor on the cells of the tongue also have protective properties preventing ingestion of toxic substances. These are due to components such as taraxacolide, dihydro-lactucin, ixerin D, taraxinic acids, phenyl propanoids, and ainslioside, which have anti-inflammatory properties.

The health-promoting benefits of dandelion can be attributed in part, to the presence of these bitter substances and phenolic components, which possess antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.

2. Taraxasterol

Taraxasterol is highly present in dandelion roots throughout the year. It is also common in plants such as legumes, cereals, nuts, and seeds as well as plant oils. A study using high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) ultraviolet-visible (UV/VIS) detected high quantities of Taraxacum.

According to studies [13], Taraxacum has anti inflammatory properties, and is considered a therapeutic agent for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. It is known as a monohydroxy triterpene, which is also found in burdock, arnica, and chicory, responsible for several biological activities.

Taraxasterol shown to have anti inflammatory action in mice, and it may have anti cancer properties as well. It is a naturally occurring sterol derived from hydroxylated polycyclic isopentenoid.

Apart from their importance in agricultural products for the food industry, sterols have a wide range of diverse biological activities, representing an economic value for the pharmaceutical industry

Taraxasterol has shown anti-microbial activity against Staphylococcus Aureus; its presence in cancer cells may counteract the development of tumor at various stages.

Metformin is currently the first choice and most used anti-diabetic drug treatment, and was obtained from plants such as Galega officinalis [12].

3. Phenols

Some phenolic compounds are believed to be cancer preventive, and may decrease the risk of developing cancer. Epigallocatechin-3 gallate, for example, is a phenolic compound found in green tea and believed to be a cancer chemopreventive. A broad group of phenolic compounds called flavonoids are common in plants; according to a review in the “British Journal of Nutrition,” there is evidence to suggest many flavonoids like anthocyanins may have anticancer effects.

Many phenolic compounds found in plants may have antioxidant effects, meaning they react with and capture dangerously reactive compounds called free radicals before the radicals can react with other biomolecules and cause serious damage.

Other phenolic compounds that act as antioxidants might also help promote healthy aging by minimizing DNA damage caused by free radicals.

4. Flavonoids

Flavonoids are one of the largest nutrient families known to scientists, and include over 6,000 already-identified family members. Some of the best-known flavonoids include quercetin, kaempferol, catechins, and anthocyanidins.

This nutrient group is most famous for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits, as well as its contribution of vibrant color to the foods we eat.

5. phenolic acid

A phenolic acid is a type of phytochemical called a polyphenol. Other types of polyphenols include flavonoids and stilbenes. Phenolic acids are found in a variety of plant-based foods; the seeds and skins of fruits and the leaves of vegetables contain the highest concentrations.

Phenolic acids are readily absorbed through the walls of your intestinal tract, and they may be beneficial to your health because they work as antioxidants that prevent cellular damage due to free-radical oxidation reactions.

They may also promote anti-inflammatory conditions in your body when you eat them regularly.

A final word on Anti-oxidative properties

Oxidative stress causes cellular damage involving constituents such as DNA, lipids, and proteins, eventually resulting in a metabolic disorder, which is the decisive process in the development of diabetes type II.

Roots of dandelion has been identified as a potent anti-oxidant, which may suppress oxidative stress markers such as malondialdehyde and glutathione. It has also been shown that glucose may generate ROS in β-cells, implying that glucose-induced oxidative stress is a mechanism of glucose toxicity. The process of ROS formation involves auto oxidation, oxidative phosphorylation, glycosylation, and glucosamine pathways.

Several studies have demonstrated the anti-oxidative effect of dandelion. Excess ROS production requires anti-oxidant defense, which is provided by dandelion extract, as is known from several studies conducted both in vitro and in vivo. Flowers from dandelion are potential antioxidant resources, exerting their effect by way of their rich content of phenolic components including flavonoids, coumaric acid, and ascorbic acid.

Obesity is a major aspect of metabolic syndrome which causes β-cell dysfunction. Failure of β-cells to produce adequate amounts of insulin is attributed to high levels of free fatty acids present in the plasma. This results in a decrease of glucose transportation into the muscle cells, thereby increasing levels of glucose and fat in the blood plasma, eventually causing hyperglycemia and lipid oxidation, which can be controlled by the anti-oxidative property of dandelion.

Diuretic effect of dandelion

Species of Taraxacum have been employed as a diuretic for over 2000 years in both Traditional Chinese Medicine and in Ayurvedic medicine.

Taraxacum officinale (L.) Weber (Asteraceae) has been extensively employed as a diuretic in traditional folk medicine and in modern phytotherapy in Europe, Asia, and the Americas without prior clinical trial substantiation.

Based on these first human data, T. officinale ethanolic extract shows promise as a diuretic in humans. Further studies are needed to establish the value of this herb for induction of diuresis in human subjects.

Currently, clinicians using phytotherapy make use of dandelion leaf in various preparations including infusions, ethanolic extracts, or fresh expressed juice where “enhanced urinary output is desirable. Dandelion was comparable to furosemide (Lasix at 80 mg/kg) in some studies.

Dandelion contains three times the amount of potassium in other botanical diuretics and provides more potassium than that lost from diuresis induced by ingesting dandelion.

Considering the requirement for potassium supplementation that typically accompanies the use of a pharmaceutical diuretic, dandelion could offer a therapeutically significant potassium contribution by replacing the potassium loss induced by most diuretics.

Nutrients in dandelion

Besides its diuretic utility, dandelion is added to salads perhaps due to its rich nutrient content.11 Dandelion is a significant source of potassium, as well as other vitamins and minerals.12 Reported potassium levels have ranged from 23.3 mg/g13 to 59.9 mg/g,14 with median figures of 42.5 mg/g9 and 45.1 mg/g15 of dried leaf.

How dandelion compares to prescription drugs

Metformin is currently the first choice and most used anti-diabetic drug treatment, and was obtained originally from galegine discovered in Galega officinalis. Similarly, acarbose, used as an anti-diabetic drug for the inhibition of alpha glucosidase, was discovered from a bacterium.

References:

  1. The Physiological Effects of Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale) in Type 2 Diabetes
  2. Glycaemic effects of traditional European plant treatments for diabetes. Studies in normal and streptozotocin diabetic mice
  3. Polyphenols Content and Antioxidant Activities of Taraxacumofficinale F.H. Wigg (Dandelion) Leaves
  4. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of phytochemicals of Taraxacum officinale
  5. The Diuretic Effect in Human Subjects of an Extract of Taraxacum officinale Folium over a Single Day
  6. Pancreatic lipase inhibitory activity of taraxacum officinale in vitro and in vivo
  7. Evaluation of aqueous extracts of Taraxacum officinale on growth and invasion of breast and prostate cancer cells
  8. Hypolipidemic and Antioxidant Effects of Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Root and Leaf on Cholesterol-Fed Rabbits
  9. The Efficacy of Dandelion Root Extract in Inducing Apoptosis in Drug-Resistant Human Melanoma Cells
  10. HYPOGLYCEMIC AND ANTIHYPERGLYCEMIC EFFECT OF ETHANOLIC EXTRACT OF WHOLE PLANT OF LAWSONIA INERMIS (HENNA) IN STREPTOZOTOCIN INDUCED DIABETIC RATS
  11. MEDICINAL PLANTS WITH HYPOGLYCEMIC/ANTI-HYPERGLYCEMIC PROPERTIES: A REVIEW
  12. ROLE OF HERBAL PLANTS IN THE DIABETES MELLITUS THERAPY: AN OVERVIEW
  13. The Physiological Effects of Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale) in Type 2 Diabetes

Image credit: Pixabay

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