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Dried root or seed as a cold infusion, decoction, tincture, or powdered and encapsulated. Fresh or cooked root and leaf as an edible vegetable Fresh root or seed as a tincture Fresh leaf as a poultice
ITEM CODE #962
Other: great burdock, gobo, goboshi
Arctium lappa L.1
Plant Family: Asteraceae
Burdock has been an important botanical in Western folk herbalism and traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, primarily valued for its cleansing and skin smoothing properties. The entire plant is edible and is a popular vegetable in Asia, particularly in Japan. More recently, burdock has been an ingredient in hair tonics and in cosmetics for mature skin.4,5
A biennial member of the Asteraceace family, with bright pink-red to purple thistle-like flowers on long stalks, and oblong to cordate, huge hairy leaves3,6 that is native to Europe and Asia, and now naturalized in North America and Austrailia.1 This plant can grow to a very robust height, reaching up to 9 feet,6 and its aromatic "carrot-like"7 taproot can grow as much as 3 feet deep into the ground (making them difficult to harvest).8 It is naturalized and abundant in northern U.S and Europe and is considered a weed in such areas.
The generic name arctium is derived from the Greek word for bear or arktos and the species name, lappa, is from the Latin word lappare which means "to seize." The fruit (bur) looks rough and hairy resembling a big, fuzzy bear and will grab on to anything in the vicinity in order to spread its seed, hence the name.8,9 Its common name is derived from the French word bourre referring to a tangle of wool (often entangled with burs) and the German "dock" referring to large leaves.8 Various species, such as A. minus or A. tomentosum, may be used interchangeably.10 However, burdock is often confused with cocklebur or Xanthium spp. that has entirely different properties.7
Cultivated in China, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, New Zealand, the United States, Canada and in various countries in Europe.1
Seeds are picked in the fall and can be loosened from the chaff with a rolling pin. Harvesting the roots is no easy task yet can be done in the fall of the first year or spring of the second, preferably the former. According to the late herbalist Michael Moore "harvesting full flowered plants in the fall can be as much work as digging up a small tree"7
Burdock is an all-purpose herbal that has been used continually for myriad purposes the last few thousand years in Asia and Europe, and more recently in North America. It is a food plant called gobo in Japanese and is a much consumed vegetable in Japan. The root may be eaten fresh or cooked and the young leaves can be cooked like any other vegetable.9 The stalks have a taste somewhat like asparagus and can be eaten raw in a salad, boiled, or candied with sugar.8
In traditional Chinese medicine, burdock fruit has been used continually for thousands of years. It is known to balance internal heat, is specifically helpful for supporting skin health, and is associated with lung and stomach meridians. It is considered energetically cold and having a slippery consistency that soothes mucus membranes. The root is also commonly cooked in order to change its energetic properties and specifically to make it easier to digest.2In European folk medicine, an infusion or decoction of the seeds was employed as a diuretic. It was helpful in enhancing health through supporting digestion, and as topical poultice.
-Culpepper in his Complete Herbal, written in 1653, says the following about Burdock:
It is so well known, even by the little boys, who pull off the burs to throw and stick upon each other, that I shall spare to write any description of it……The Burdock leaves are cooling and moderately drying. The leaves applied to the places troubled with the shrinking of the sinews or arteries, gives much ease. The juice of the leaves, or rather the roots themselves, given to drink with old wine, doth wonderfully help the biting of any serpents.11
Further, Culpepper, an avid astrologer in addition to being an herbalist, considered burdock to be a feminine plant, ruled by the planet Venus and took this into consideration when preparing his burdock elixirs.11 Traditionally the root was thought to carry magical power, particularly powers of protection and healing. It was believed that wearing a necklace that is made from the root, gathered during the waning moon, would protect the wearer from evil and negativity.12 In the Native American healing tradition, the plant was used by the Malecite, Micmac, Ojibwa, and Menominee for skin health. Further, the roots were dried by the Iroquois over a fire and stored for food for the following year.13 They also utilized the related A. minus in medicinal baths.
According to the William Cook, author of the Physio-medical Dispensatory in 1869, burdock "enters into a sort of family beer along with such agents as yellow dock, spikenard, elder flowers, and ginger" making a beneficial spring beverage.
Herbalist Matthew Becker states that burdock is a "potent yet safe lymphatic decongestant.” Also, that as a subtle alterative it works best over time and demonstrates restorative properties due, in part, to its bitter tonic effects on the digestive system. It also contains inulin which feeds the healthy bacteria in the colon.14
Burdock is considered by many herbalists to be the best known medicinal for skin conditions (Hoffman, Moore). This herb is highly effective, gentle, and multipurpose. It promotes the flow of bile and also increases circulation to the skin. Further, it is a mild diuretic and lymphatic.15 Burdock is used widely as an alterative and blood purifier. The leaves can be made into a fresh poultice to soothe poison oak and poison ivy and a leaf decoction makes a therapeutic wash for the skin.3
Flavor: acrid bitter cold,2 sweet8
Diaphorhetic,10 mild diuretic, mild laxative, alterative,3,7,8,14,15,16 cholagogue3
Sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpene lactones, acetylenic compounds, phenolic acids, and up to 45% inulin,16 flavanoid glycosides, bitter glycosides, alkaloids,17 chromium, copper, iron, magnesium,18 Arctiin2
The inspiration for Velcro came from the burdock bur. The inventor, a Swiss electrical engineer named Georges de Mestral, was walking along one day in the mountains and saw burs sticking on his wool socks and his dog's fur. He went home and examined the barbed, hook-like seeds that make up the fruit and thought he could replicate this "gripping" action in the laboratory. And so he did, and, in 1955, Velcro was patented and released to the world.19,20
Specific: No known precautions.
General: We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Let’s take a closer look at the impressive health benefits of this herbal plant.
One of the aspects of burdock that doesn’t get enough attention is its impressive ability to lower blood pressure. The plant’s high concentration of potassium, a vasodilator, helps relieve tension within the cardiovascular system by relaxing the blood vessels and arteries, thereby helping to prevent atherosclerosis, heartattack, and stroke.
The most well-known use of burdock is as a digestive aid for many reasons. Firstly, the high concentration of fiber in it helps stimulate the digestive system and moves food smoothly through the bowels, thereby relieving constipation and preventing bloating, cramping, and ulcers. Inulin, a particular type of fiber found in burdock, is able to reduce inflammation in the gut and eliminate many types of harmful bacteria that can cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal problems.
Although all types of fiber are able to regulate the balance of insulin and glucose in the body, inulin is particularly effective and has been directly connected to reducing the development and severity of diabetes and diabetes-related symptoms. The significant levels of insulin in burdock can also lower overall blood cholesterol by eliminating it from the body, thereby protecting your cardiovascular system.
The chemicals that give burdock its bitter taste, also stimulate bile production and digestive juices in the gut, which helps the liver to rapidly process toxins and flush them from the system. Clearing toxins from the blood is one of the main purposes of the liver, and burdock’s organic compounds and components have been directly linked to improving this function.
One of the most common side effects of constipation, high toxicity in the blood, or poor dietary habits is skin inflammation, manifesting as spots, pimples, acne, rashes or discoloration. Many herbalists recommend burdock root supplements and herbs for the treatment of skin conditions, as this powerful herb can solve the underlying problems of toxicity or constipation in a fast and efficient way, leading to clearer, healthier skin.
Having a hormone disorder can be destructive and difficult. To avoid that, you should add foods and herbs to your diet that can regulate hormonal activities in the body. Burdock is able to help the liver metabolize certainhormones, like estrogen, which can rebalance the body’s hormone levels. Excess estrogen is the cause of various dangerous or even deadly hormonal disorders, so adding some burdock root to your weekly diet is never a bad idea!
It has significant levels of vitamin C and vitamin E, both of which act as antioxidants in the body to eliminate free radicals, which means that burdock is a major booster of our immune system. These antioxidants have been linked to preventing infections, lowering one’s risk of cancer, supporting proper growth, and repairing the body’s cells and tissues. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/burdock.html
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