Herb & Supplement Encyclopedia:
Scientific Names: Arctium lappa L.
Forms: Burdock root tea; burdock whole root, fresh or dried.
- Bone and Joint Health
- Breathing Disorders
- Canker Sores
- Celiac's Disease
- Cellular Regeneration
- Crohn's Disease
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Digestive Disorders
- Gastrointestinal Disorders
- Hormone Imbalances
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Joint Pain
- Senility/Aging Conditions
- Skin Disorders
During the Middle Ages, burdock was valued for treating a host of ailments. English herbalists used burdock root for boils, scurvy (a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency, leading to bleeding, gum disease, and weakness), diabetes, and rheumatism (disorders characterized by joint discomfort and loss of mobility). Burdock also played an important role in Native American herbal medicine, and American herbalists have used the roots and seeds of this plant for two centuries.
Burdock root has been traditionally used as a "blood purifier" to clear the bloodstream of toxins, as a diuretic to promote the excretion of urine, and as a topical remedy to relieve skin problems. In folk medicine, burdock has also been used as a laxative and to relieve inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. Plus, there is belief that burdock may be helpful for kidney stones.
Despite the fact that burdock has been used for centuries to treat a variety of conditions, few (if any) scientific studies have proven that this herb is a safe and useful remedy. Still, many professional herbalists find burdock helpful for skin and scalp conditions (including acne, psoriasis, eczema, contact dermatitis, and wounds) and inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. Preparations of burdock root are also used to promote perspiration and the excretion of urine and to treat ailments and complaints of the digestive system. Extracts of burdock root are found in a variety of herbal preparations as well as homeopathic remedies.
Burdock is a common weed native to Europe and Northern Asia and is now widespread throughout the United States as well. A member of the thistle family, burdock is a stout, common weed with hooked bracts (leaf-like part of the plant) or burrs that adhere to clothing or animal fur. The burdock plant grows to a maximum height of approximately three to four feet. It has purple flowers that bloom between the months of June and October. Burdock has alternate (meaning that the leaves grow on both sides of the stem at alternating levels), wavy, heart-shaped leaves that are green on the top and whitish on the bottom. The deep roots (used primarily for medicinal purposes) are brownish-green, or nearly black on the outside.
Burdock grows well in the wild. It thrives in light, well-drained soil. Herbalists usually collect burdock leaves during the first year of growth, and harvest the roots in the fall of the first year after planting (or during the following spring before the flowers bloom). From: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/ConsHerbs/Burdockch.html
Burdock root, also known as gobo or "Poor-man's potatoes", is an important food in Japan known for it's many healing properties. Traditionally, burdock root was used in Europe, India and China to treat respiratory disorders, abscesses, joint pain, urinary problems and to overcome serious health challenges by stimulating cellular regeneration, detoxification and cleansing. The German Pharmacopoeia lists this herbal drug for treating gastrointestinal complaints, as well as joint and bone conditions. The tea is also considered to be a traditional blood purifier and diuretic. Up to seventy-five percent of the root is made up of complex carbohydrates known as fructo-oligo-saccharides (FOS), including 27-45% inulin. Based on clinical studies, intake of FOS significantly increases beneficial bifidobacteria within the gastrointestinal tract and eliminates bacterial pathogens. This ultimately stimulates the immune system and effectively suppresses abnormal cell growth. The high levels of FOS in burdock root and its water extract also help to keep blood sugar levels constant and reduce hyperglycemia. Burdock root and its tea also contain at least five powerful flavonoid-type antioxidants that are more powerful antioxidants than vitamin C. Based on many studies with animals exposed to toxic chemicals, the tea very effectively protects the body against cellular damage and abnormal growths. The tea also has powerful anti-inflammatory activity based on studies and reduces liver damage from toxic chemicals. As a mildly bitter-tasting herb, it increases saliva and bile secretion, which aids digestion and cleanses the liver. These qualities of burdock root tea support proper hormone balances within the body and this may explain its traditional use for treating acne, eczema, endometriosis, fibroids and psoriasis. Burdock root tea can also be applied externally for treating skin conditions.
Burdock root contains: Approximately 27-45% inulin, mucilage (up to 75% of the root is carbohydrate in the form of fructo-oligo-saccharides (FOS) including inulin); 0.06-0.18% essential oil with so far 66 identified components; antibacterial polyacetylenes; bitter substances (i.e. lactones); 1.9-3.65% polyphenols including caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid and other powerful flavonoid-type antioxidants; sitosterol and stigmasterol.
Burdock root is generally taken as an herbal tea three to five times per day. German authorities recommend using 2.5g of finely chopped or coarsely powdered d(herb) per cup of tea (1 teaspoon of powdered burdock root weighs approximately 2 grams). It is recommended that the tea be infused in cold water first (for up to several hours) and then boiled for up to an hour and finally passed through a strainer. This long process serves to increase the bioavailability of some of the active ingredients. As a food, this root can also be added to soups.
Burdock root tea may reduce the requirements for insulin, based on its effectiveness for helping to normalize blood sugar levels. Therefore it is recommended that diabetics consult with a health care practitioner.
As with other sources of soluble fibre, burdock root itself may reduce the absorption of oral medications and therefore should be taken separately from these.
Burdock root is commonly eaten as a food by Japanese people living all over the world, including in Canada and the U.S. It is listed as a GRAS food (generally recognized as safe) in the U.S. and Canada.
Contraindications: None known.
Side Effects: None known.
Dombradi C, and Foldeak S. 1966. Screening report on the antitumor activity of purified Arctium lappa extracts. Tumori 52: 173.-176.
Duh, PD. 1998. Antioxidant activity of burdock (Arctium lappa Linne): its scavenging effect on free-radical and active oxygen. J Am Oil Chem Soc 75 (4): 455-461.
Lin CC, Lu JM, Yang JJ, Chuang SC, and Ujiie T. 1996. Anti-inflammatory and radical scavenge effects of Arctium lappa. Am J Chin Med 24 (2): 127-137.
Wichtl M (ed). 1994. Bardanae Radix 鈥?Burdock Root (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 99-101.
Yamashita K, Kawai K, and Itakura M. 1984. Effects of fructo-oligosaccharides on blood glucose and serum lipids in diabetic subjects. Nutr Res 4: 961-966.
Down to the Roots - Burdock and Chicory
For centuries, burdock and chicory have been considered important remedies to help the liver. They have also been used to help rid the body of uric acid, to treat rheumatism and to eliminate skin conditions. By helping the liver, they also improve hormonal imbalances. The Chinese eat burdock to relieve constipation. chicory is an effective digestive tonic, and can be used as a coffee substitute鈥攃hicory coffee does not contain caffeine, but it does taste somewhat like coffee. Chicory increases bile production, moderates a rapid heart rate, lowers cholesterol and destroys bacteria.
Burdock and chicory roots are versatile. Burdock can be used much like a carrot鈥攊t can be grated, sliced or blended. My favorite introductory-level burdock dish is a gravy. One Thanksgiving, I offered to bring the dressing and you should have seen the looks on the faces of the guests when I told them that it was made from burdock. Of course, I waited until after they had told me how delicious it was! Even after I told them it was burdock, no one refused seconds.
1 cup chopped burdock root (1 medium-size root)
陆 cup yogurt, sour cream or soy milk
1 tablespoon butter or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon honey
Blend ingredients until smooth. Heat mixture over low heat, stirring until it thickens, about 4 minutes.
Fresh burdock and chicory roots are not hard to find. Many natural food stores carry them, at least in the fall and into the spring. Japanese groceries sell burdock as gobo. Even some regular grocery stores sell these roots, especially in Hawaii. You can also grow your own鈥攍ook for them in the vegetable seed section of a nursery or seed catalog.
In the North American colonies, in the early days of colonization, coffee was cut with chicory so that supplies of the expensive bean would last longer. Later, chicory coffee became a Louisiana specialty. Roasting gives chicory a bitter-sweet flavor. To roast chicory, chop fresh roots, place a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast in a 325掳F oven for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Roasted chicory roots can easily be made into a tea鈥攋ust grind them in a coffee grinder and steep.
2 teaspoons dried burdock root, chopped
1 teaspoon each roasted chicory root and dried dandelion root, chopped
陆 ounce licorice root
1 quart water
Combine herbs and water. Simmer on low heat 20 to 30 minutes. Strain out herbs and serve. Sweetener and/or milk can be added to the tea if desired.