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Dandelion root for healthy kidneys

Herbal cleansing treatment to eliminate the harmful side effects of painkillers

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2022. February 10.

I remember fond childhood memories of the dandelion. Back in nursery school, we were taken regularly to a nearby meadow, where we created rings and chains from the stalks of the dandelion, and later, when a fluffy ball appeared instead of the yellow flowers, we blew into each other's faces with pleasure.

It is a well-known folk medicine plant

Dandelions grow wild in most parts of the world. Its characteristic yellow flower closes at night and in damp weather, thus, according to folk observations, it indicates the approach of rain. Due to its spear leaves, it is called the lion's tooth in several languages (in Spanish: diente de león, in German: Löwenzahn). The English name dandelion is coming from the French words dent de lion. Dandelion can be consumed from its roots through its leaves to its flower head, and has a healing effect based on folk medicine experience. Incidentally, this is also referred to by its Latin name, since Taraxacum originally means “cure-disorder”.

Multiple healing effect 

Today, we can rely not only on folk observations, due to the development of modern scientific methods, it has become clear that dandelion is indeed a particularly useful plant, be it for constipation, dehydration or bile problems. Research is also heavily investigating its stabilizing effect on blood sugar levels, its potential role in cancer therapy, its role in relieving endometriosis, and its ability to stimulate the absorption of iron to treat anemia. 

Role in Detox 

Dandelion also seems to be a suitable choice when various toxins have to be removed from the body, as it directly supports the liver and kidneys in detoxification. The root of the dandelion is particularly valuable in this regard.

Pitypang gyökér az egészséges vesékért

Dandelion root extract reduces the kidney damaging effects of painkillers.

3-5% of chronic renal failure results from overdose of analgesics because the oxidative stress resulting from the metabolism and excretion of the medicines containing e.g. paracetamol or ibuprofen can harm or even kill kidney and liver cells. A serious overdose can lead to death, approx. 200 people die from excessive paracetamol use a year. The maximum amount of paracetamol in adults is 4000 mg / day, and a maximum of 500 mg can be taken every 4 hours, while the daily limit for ibuprofen is 1200 mg. It is important to know that even this amount puts a significant strain on the liver and kidneys, but this can still be tolerated by a healthy body.

Pitypang gyökér az egészséges vesékért

How does dandelion help?

A study published in the biochemical journal Oxford Academic in September 2020 reported that dandelion root extract was able to prevent kidney and liver damage in experimental animals receiving high-dose paracetamol.

Experiment methods and results

The animals received paracetamol once a day for 7 days, then a group of them also received dandelion root extract 6 hours after paracetamol intake. They were examined on day 8 (body weight, blood test, histology) and the results were compared with control animals that did not receive any treatment (neither paracetamol nor combined paracetamol and dandelion root) during the 8 days.

Animal body weight.

If the animals are not feeling well, they will eat less and thus lose weight. The experimental rats weighed between 200 and 220 g, compared to the control:

  • members of the paracetamol-only group weighed more than 10 g less,
  • those receiving paracetamol + dandelion root extract had a difference within 10 g,

thus, the second group tolerated the extreme doses of analgesic treatment better.

Liver enzyme levels.

Their increase indicates damage and destruction of liver cells. Measured enzymes: AST, ALT, ALP, LDH. Liver impairment occurred in animals treated with paracetamol alone:

  • paracetamol only: enzyme levels increased by 21-28%,
  • paracetamol + dandelion root extract: normal levels, equal to control.
Kidney function.

Measured as creatinine levels, if the kidneys lose their efficiency, the level of creatinine rises. Here, renal efficiency was decreased in the paracetamol-only group:

  • paracetamol alone: creatinine levels increased by 21%,
  • paracetamol + dandelion root extract: normal levels, equal to control.
Glutathione level.

To neutralize and excrete paracetamol, we need glutathione, which is an antioxidant produced in our body. Glutathione is one of the main players in detoxification in general.

  • Those receiving paracetamol alone: amount of glutathione was reduced by 20% in the kidneys and 25% in the liver,
  • those receiving paracetamol + dandelion root extract: amount of glutathione was reduced only approx. by 10–10% in the kidneys and liver because the active ingredients in the extract supported intense detoxification.
MDA level.

Proportional to lipid peroxidation, showing the degree of oxidative stress. Under intense oxidative stress, cells are damaged and can die, which can trigger inflammatory processes.

  • Those receiving paracetamol alone: lipid peroxidation increased by 19% in the kidneys and 28% in the liver,
  • those receiving paracetamol + dandelion root extract: no increase was seen in the kidneys and a marginal, 1-2% increase in the liver.
Histology.

After the day 8, microscopic examination of the liver and kidneys was also performed:

  • paracetamol only: lesions have appeared in the liver, often bordered by inflammation and necrotic (rupturing) cells. Necrotic cells were also found in the kidneys, and some of the kidney ducts were also slightly different from normal;
  • paracetamol + dandelion root extract: normal tissue staining, traces of a small number of dead cells in both kidneys and liver, signs of regeneration in kidneys.

Another result of the article was that not only dandelion root extract, N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) was also able to prevent kidney and liver damage. NAC is a modified cysteine amino acid, which is used to build up glutathione (the detoxifying antioxidant already mentioned) in our body.

Summary

From the environment, a significant amount of chemicals and drugs enter our body, posing a challenge to our excretory organs. As a result of overload, the liver and kidneys can be damaged, their performance can be reduced, which means that our body has to bear an even greater load. Meanwhile, one of the most important “fuels” for detoxification, glutathione, is declining, which in turn can increase oxidative stress, triggering a vicious cycle.

Long-term, high-volume use of painkillers can lead to kidney failure, so it is worth compensating for the negative effects. It is coming from folk observations, but it is also scientifically confirmed that dandelion root extract, or N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), can protect the kidneys and liver from such damage.

Original article

Comparison of ameliorative effects of dandelion (Taraxacum) and NAC against acetaminophen-induced oxidative stress in rat liver and kidney. 

If you want to read more information in the topic of detoxification, click for the following post:
DETOXIFICATION WITH MILK THISTLE - Maintaining a proper liver function

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