Chinese zodiac followers may know it as the year of the horse, but the spotlight might just be on the yellowy summer weed many people despise—dandelions.
Head researcher Dr.Siyaram Pandey says the fate of promising cancer fighter, dandelion root extract, is likely to be seen this year.
Headlines were made four years ago in 2010 when dandelions were going to be researched for their use as a cancer treatment. People were shocked to learn that the weed that plagued lawn owners for years was going for used for some serious good.
It started when oncologist Dr. Caroline Hamm noticed that after refusing chemotherapy two leukemia patients had improved test results after consuming dandelion tea. She contacted Dr. Siyaram Pandey, biochemist at University of Windsor to see if these alleged miracle stories were anything more than a fluke. As it turns out, they weren’t.
The extract began to be vigorously tested in labs, within petri dishes filled with cancerous cells. Something magnificent began happening under the microscopes. Apoptosis was being induced on the cancer cells, or in simpler terms, the cancer cells were committing suicide.
The difference between many other cancer treatments and the dandelion root extract is the fact that it is selective in its killing of cells. “There are many things that can kill cancer cells, you can put bleach on cancer cells and they will be killed but that doesn’t mean that bleach is a good cancer treatment,” said Pandey. The root extract leaves healthy cells unharmed; only targeting those that are cancerous.
Pandey stresses the difference between the scientific results from a lab and real world application, which is why the first clinical trial is quite exciting. Whether or not this entire project continues rides solely on the trials that are due to be completed this year.
The 30-person trial will be conducted at Windsor Regional Cancer Center, but not all are eligible to participate. “Only those patients who are terminally ill or have exhausted all treatment options will be allowed to register for this kind of treatment,” said Pandey. This trial will focus on leukemia or other blood related cancers, since results are easier to test by simple blood sampling, instead of intensive surgery.
The natural cancer treatment is also pain free; it is to be consumed orally. But don’t jump into a dandelion craze just yet, Pandey notes that nothing is concrete. The standardized dosages are still being researched, and home remedies are nowhere near as powerful as the lab extracted roots.
Pandey also notes that even though the market is full of different types of dandelion teas and powders, one must be careful because their additives and harvesting methods are unknown. The procedure in which he and his team extract the compound that fights cancer is also very specialized to ensure that it is as potent as possible.
By the end of the year, dandelions might just be the hottest item on the market as a cancer treatment option, but only time in clinical trial will tell whether the root extract is as miraculous in real life application as it was in the research lab.