Biological Name: Arctium lappa
Other Names: Bardana, burr seed, clotbur, cocklebur, grass burdock, hardock, hareburr, hurrburr, turkey burrseed, Burdock, Niu bang zi
Parts Used: root, seed, leaves
Burdock root contains high amounts of inulin and mucilage. This may explain its soothing effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Bitter constituents in the root may also explain the traditional use of burdock to improve digestion. It also contains polyacetylenes that have been shown to have anti-microbial activity. Burdock root and fruit also have the ability to slightly lower blood sugar (hypoglycemic effect). Even though test-tube and animal studies have indicated some anti-tumor activity for burdock root, these results have not been duplicated in human studies.
In traditional herbal texts, burdock root is described as a blood purifier or alterative. Burdock root was believed to clear the bloodstream of toxins. It was used both internally and externally for eczema and psoriasis as well as to treat painful joints and as a diuretic. In traditional Chinese medicine, burdock root in combination with other herbs is used to treat sore throats, tonsillitis, colds, and even measles. It is eaten as a vegetable in Japan and elsewhere. Burdock root has recently become popular as part of a tea to treat cancer. To date, only minimal research has substantiated this application.
Antibiotic, antifungal, diaphoretic, diuretic, mild laxative, antipyretic
Beneficial in treating
A root decoction of burdock has been reported useful in the treatment of gout, rheumatism, and dropsy. In Japan, the tender leaf stalks and roots are boiled twice to remove the tough fibers and then eaten. It is a diuretic without the side effects such as irritation and nausea. Externally, the leaves have been applied for benign skin tumors and in the treatment of knee joint swellings unresponsive to other medicines. Burdock poultices have been used in the treatment of gout, severe bloody bruises and burns.
Recent scientific experiments have shown that burdock root extracts is a diuretic and inhibited tumors in animals. Extracts also lowered blood sugar and have estrogenic activity. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties. The active antibacterial compound is identified as lactone.
The experiments show that burdock has potential in treatment of female complaints, in diabetes, and for bacterial or fungal infection.
Burdock is native to Asia and Europe. The root is the primary source of most herbal preparations. The root becomes very soft with chewing and tastes sweet, with a mucilaginous texture.
Burdock is a biennial plant found along fences, walls, and roadsides, in waste places, and around populated areas. The root is long, fleshy, gray-brown outside, and whitish inside. In its second year, the plant grows a furrowed, reddish, pithy stem with woolly branches. During the first year burdock has only basal leaves. Both basal and stem leaves are oblong-cordate to cordate, green and hairy on top and downy gray beneath. The purple flowers appear in loose corymbose clusters from July to September.
Traditional herbalists recommend 2-4 ml of burdock root tincture per day. For the dried root preparation in capsule form, the common amount to take is 1-2 grams three times per day. Many herbal preparations combine burdock root with other alterative herbs such as yellow dock, red clover, or cleavers.
Use of burdock root in the dosages listed here is generally safe. However, burdock root in large quantities may stimulate the uterus and therefore should be used with caution during pregnancy. Do not use burdock if you are suffering from diarrhea.