Metabolic and chronic disorders have created a tremendous economic burden in developed and developing countries. The overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS), proinflammatory cytokines, and gut permeability contributes to developing multiple chronic diseases. However, with most of the drugs having a secondary effect or a less than optimal percentage of effectiveness to treat the disease, patients and clinicians have turned to bioactive compounds that might aid their symptoms. Besides, these bioactive compounds and their effectiveness in modulating the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines can promote detoxifying processes, and therefore contribute to well-being.
Detox diets, teas, or protocols are used to eliminate environmental pollutants or “toxins” from the body. Nevertheless, the body has a full and integrated mechanism to eliminate these toxins. However, there is always a time when our body gets overloaded with foreign chemicals and needs extra help to eliminate the toxins. Here is where vitamins, bioactive compounds, fiber, and phytochemicals intervene in the absorption and elimination processes and biochemical pathways to reduce the production of ROS or proinflammatory cytokines.
Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale)
Nutraceuticals and natural remedies are commonly used in low to middle-income countries. Besides, it is in these countries where conditions like T2DM go undiagnosed and untreated. Furthermore, drugs are often unavailable or considered expensive to these populations. Bioactive compounds of plants are often used in modern pharmaceuticals, and approximately 80% of the world-wide population uses herbal medicine to treat conditions.
Used in herbal medicine across centuries, Dandelion is a plant of the genus Taraxacum with approximately 2800 known species and a member of the Asteraceae family. It is primarily produced in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Poland.
Nutritional properties of Dandelion
Chromatography and mass spectrophotometry analysis of dandelion has positioned dandelion as a rich source of B-carotene. Indeed, the elevated concentration of this compound protects against oxidation and cellular damage.
The dandelion’s carbohydrate composition revealed a high content of inulin, carotenoids, fatty acids such as myristic acid, choline, pectin, and mucilage. Furthermore, around 45% of the roots are comprised of inulin and complex fructo-oligosaccharides. These components exert their beneficial effects by eliminating pathogens from the gut, reduce obesity, cancer, and osteoporosis.
Chemical compounds of Dandelion
|Phytochemical name||Antidiabetic actions/plant part|
|Stigma sterol (phytosterols)
|Anti-inflammatory, anti-hyperglycemic, antimicrobial properties (roots
|Antihyperglycemic and anti-inflammatory properties (roots)
|Tetrahydroridentin B (sesquiterpene lactone)
|Anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties (roots)
|Taraxacolide-β-D-glucoside (sesquiterpene lactone)
|Antihyperglycemic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-mutagenic, fungicidal, and hypolipidemic properties (leaves and stem)
|Caffeic acid (phenolic acid)
|Anti-oxidative and immunostimulatory properties (flower, stems, leaves, and roots)
|Chicoric acid (phenolic acid)
|Immunostimulatory and anti-hyperglycemic (a most abundant compound found in roots, leaves, and stem)
|Quercetin glycosides (flavonoid)
|Antioxidant properties (leaves and stems)
|Chlorogenic acids (phenolic acid)
|Anti-oxidative and immunostimulatory properties (flowers, stems, leaves, and roots). Strongest anti-oxidant
|Luteolin 7-O-glucoside (flavonoid)
|Anti-oxidant properties (flower)
|Ixerin D (sesquiterpene lactone)
|Anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties (roots)
|Taraxinic acid-β-Dglucopyranoside (sesquiterpene lactone)
|Anti-inflammatory, anti-hyperglycemic, and antimicrobial properties. (roots, leaves, and stems)
The FOS provided by inulin serve as a prebiotic to intestinal bacteria. This can ease the elimination of pathogens from the gastrointestinal tract. Also, an uptake in mineral absorption associated with FOS can regulate the immune system by suppressing abnormal cell growth and normalize blood sugar levels. Furthermore, chlorogenic acids (CGA) are a powerful anti-inflammatory associated with weight loss and insulin secretion improvement.
The improvement of insulin secretion and glucose uptake by the muscle tissue is a well-studied topic. Dandelion’s bioactive compound, Chicoric acid (CRA), has been used in non-obese diabetic mice with positive glucose uptake results, improved insulin secretion, and increased insulin activity. CRA has proven to inhibit enzymes α-glucosidase and α-amylase, therefore, preventing the digestion of complex carbohydrates.
The anti-inflammatory action of dandelion has been tested in multiple studies. Recent studies suggest that dandelion induces apoptosis in human hepatoma cells through TNF-a and IL-1a secretion. Another study suggests that (TS) inhibits NO, prostaglandin E, TNF-a, IL-6, IL-1b, and LPS-induced macrophages, preventing nuclear translocation of factor kappa-B, the cytoplasm to the nucleus.
An elevated concentration of ROS and oxidative stress causes cellular damage, which involves the DNA, lipids, and proteins, ultimately resulting in a metabolic disorder. In fact, CGA found in dandelion’s root has proven to suppress oxidative stress markers such as malondialdehyde and glutathione. Besides, bioactive compounds found in dandelion’s flowers can counteract ROS’s glucose-induced production by b-cells. As mentioned in several in vivo and in vitro studies, flavonoids, coumaric acid, and ascorbic acid found in dandelion extract act as hydrogen peroxide scavengers and reductive agents. Lastly, dandelion’s leafy extracts contain enzymes, including glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase, and superoxide dismutase. Interventions using dandelion’s leafy extract in C57BL/6J mice fed a high-fat and cholesterol diet resulted in a drop of lipid peroxidation in the liver, proving dandelion’s antioxidant effects.
Dandelion components regulate B-cell gene expression.
CGA can regulate the function of B-cell through direct and indirect reactions. Indeed, CGA can inhibit glucose absorption resulting in an increased secretion of the incretin hormone glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). Furthermore, GLP-1 production, resulting from the action of CGA, helps to modulate glucose-dependent insulin secretion from the β-cell. Another regulator for B-cell differentiation is the homeodomain islet/duodenum homeobox-1 (IDX-1).
IDX-1 is a transcription factor and plays an important role in insulin gene transcription, most essentially in the transcription of glucose transporter 2 (GLUT-2) and glucokinase, which initiates the glucose responsiveness β-cells.
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR) a, y and b, are stimulated in the presence of dandelion bioactive compounds. In fact, PPARs increase the expression of genes that metabolize lipids and carbohydrates in the liver, gut, and adipose tissue. PPAR’s have a DNA binding domain when it merges with a retinoid-X-receptor (RXR), forms a PPAR/RXR dimer that can then bind to the DNA nucleus through the DNA-binding domain. Lastly, this PPAR/RXR is responsible for the transcription of specific genes involved in glucose and lipid metabolism control.
The aforementioned reactions contribute to the detoxifying properties exerted by dandelion’s bioactive compounds. In fact, dandelion’s benefits are not only focused on the liver’s health but accompanied by b-cell proliferation and function, gut permeability, and ROS scavenging. Also, dandelions’ genetic interactions provide a new approach to treatment for chronic diseases with an underlying insulin disorder.
Nevertheless, the drug treatment of chronic diseases often produces secondary effects such as gut permeability and weight gain. Therefore adding to the risk factors to develop insulin-derived conditions. Body composition and assessment are vital to the nutritional treatment of diseases such as T2DM, obesity, and cardiometabolic conditions.
Detox is a complex word used in a simplistic manner by the diet industry. While is true that our body has its own detoxifying mechanisms, we eat, process, and live in an environment with a high number of pollutants. It might seem simple to drink a tea with dandelion extract mixed with ginger or other plants, it could be helpful to diminish symptoms of gut permeability and control glucose levels in those patients with moderate T2DM. -Ana Paola R. Arciniega. Master in Clinical Nutrition
Klein, A. V., and H. Kiat. “Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence.” Journal of human nutrition and dietetics 28.6 (2015): 675-686.
Wirngo, Fonyuy E et al. “The Physiological Effects of Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale) in Type 2 Diabetes.” The review of diabetic studies: RDS vol. 13,2-3 (2016): 113-131. doi:10.1900/RDS.2016.13.113
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, CTG*
Licensed in Texas & New Mexico