burdock large copy Burdock

Burdock | Arctium lappa

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include burdock, beggars buttons, greater burdock. The name 'bur' dock relates to its seedheads that are covered in tiny hook like projections which attach to animals fur and are thus dispersed far and wide. I had to groom out many a 'bur' from my horses tail and mane as a child.

 

Burdock is naturalised in Britain and grows in most parts of the world including Europe, North America, Russia, China and India. In the past it was grown as a root vegetable in Britain and still is in parts of Europe and the Far East, particularly japan where the shredded root features in several common recipes.

 

It is a large biennial plant (completes its life cycle in 2 years) growing up to several feet in height with broad leaves growing up to a foot long. In the first year it is closer to the ground with a rosette like formation of leaves. Its flowers appear in the second year and are typical thistle like flowers that are a rich dark purple colour. The seedheads form soon after. The plant then sets seed and ends its life, safe in the knowledge that its seeds have been widely distributed.

 

It is considered an invasive weed by farmers and tends to grow in full sun on waste or disturbed ground. It grows well in soil that is rich in nitrogen.

 

 

Burdock root in both its dried form and tincture are available to buy in our herbal shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 


harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

The large taproot reaches deep into the soil and draws up many valuable nutrients including a wealth of trace minerals.
The root is harvested in the plants first year in the Autumn as this is when the medicinal components are at their strongest and most concentrated. Do not harvest the root if the plant is flowering, it is about to go to seed and then finish its life so no goodness is stored in the roots at this time. The low calorie roots are edible when raw or cooked and have a mild almost neutral flavour. The root should be washed, chopped into half inch sized pieces and dried thoroughly and slowly to be preserved for future use. Once dried, the chopped root can be powdered in a coffee grinder and mixed with a little oil to make a useful poultice for skin, joint or scalp conditions for example.
The leaves should be harvested in the spring preferably, or at any time during the plants life and can be used fresh or dried. The root is most commonly used as medicine but the leaves can also be used fresh or dried. The seeds also have medicinal properties and the leaf stalks can be eaten raw or lightly steamed.
 

 Burdock root in both its dried form and tincture are available to buy in our herbal shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 


therapeutic actions and uses

therapeutic actions and uses

Burdock root is highly valued for its potent and rapid 'blood cleansing' action. It literally dredges through waste matter and moves it to the appropriate excretory organs for disposal. It stimulates all the excretory organs to perform more effectively in their cleansing and detoxifying processes. It is so efficient at this that one must be careful not to overburden the blood stream and excretory organs with circulating toxins by using too much, too fast. The old natural healers maxim "cleanse a little, build a little" applies perfectly to burdock root.
 
It is such a valuable and popular plant with herbalists as its medicinal applications are numerous. It has favourable effects on the respiratory, digestive, urinary, circulatory, lymphatic/immune, nervous and endocrine/glandular system's as well as being strengthening to the kidneys and joints. Many users report a greater sense of well being when taking burdock as a food or medicine.
 
The fresh root is rich in potassium (almost as much as bananas) and B vitamins, particularly B6, both of which are implicated in protecting the inner lining of the arteries from plaque build up and the 'hardening' which results. It also contains a wealth of other nutrients including vitamins C and E, iron, manganese, magnesium, zinc, calcium, selenium, and phosphorus.
 
Cleansing and flushing diuretic action making it useful in urinary tract infections such as cystitis and can also be useful in reducing water retention and eliminating kidney stones.
 
Burdock has wide ranging actions on the processes and organs of the digestive system. It promotes the appetite so can be used to help a person to combat weight loss, stimulate the appetite in anorexia, helps to cleanse, protect and regenerate liver cells making it applicable in hepatitis and cirrhosis, headaches of a 'liverish' origin, sweetens bad breath through its cleansing action on the digestive system, cleans and lubricates the colon so is good for constipation, as well as condition affecting the gallbladder such as jaundice, is a gentle tonic to the pancreas and spleen.
 
Anti-cancer. Burdock root has a long and successful history as a treatment for cancers and tumours and recent studies show its promise against leukaemia and colon cancer. It is included in many herbal formulas for the treatment of cancer such as the famous 'Essiac' and 'Hoxsey' preparations.
Thought to prevent cancer from metastasizing (spreading).
 
Burdock root also has deep cleansing action on nodes and vessels of the lymphatic system. This makes it applicable to a wide range of conditions where toxin accumulations are causing congestion and need to be cleared such as in uterine fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, orchitis (inflammation of the testicles), some sexually transmitted infections.
 
Skin problems such as acne, eczema, boils, psoriasis, cysts and abscessesimpetigo, rashes, itching, dermatitis (all arising from excess toxins in the blood and lymphatic vessels or from poorly functioning skin) and for moisturising dry skin (it encourages the excretion of natural oils through the skin). The root is a fine tissue healer for wounds and abrasions.
 
It can be used as a wash for scalp dryness and dandruff, for cradle cap in babies and to promote shiny healthy hair and prevent hair loss.
 
Burdock root is often used for its ability to reduce high blood sugar. It contains a soluble fibrous starch called 'inulin' (also present in dandelion root, elecampagne root, chicory root, jerusalem artichoke root, dahlia root and a host of others). Inulin is a fascinating molecule, sweet to the taste but does not cause a sugar spike as it not absorbed as such but passes on into the colon where it 'feeds' beneficial bacteria there. This soluble fibre also slows down digestion, making blood sugar release more slowly into the blood, lessening dramatic blood sugar spikes and making one feel fuller for longer. This makes burdock root helpful in combating obesity. This link contains more information on inulin.
 
In Chinese medicine it is classified as a cooling or heat clearing remedy and is prescribed for conditions such as fevers and infections (particularly when a skin rash is present) such as in measles or chickenpox.
 
Rheumatism, arthritis, gout, joint inflammation generally, backache, sciatica, spondylosis, carpal tunnel syndrome and other similar problems, mainly due to burdocks ability to deeply cleanse the joints of wastes and accumulations and move them to the excretory organs for disposal.
 
Burdock root is also soothing and beneficial to the nerves. Has good results in neuropathies.
 
The root includes antibiotic like substances yet is generally stimulating and balancing to the immune system. It can be used to reduce the symptoms of allergies, hayfever, colds, flu, swollen glands and other infections.
 
Burdock roots inulin acts as a pre-biotic and is known to increase the populations of the beneficial bacteria Bifidobacterium (and others) in the human intestines which could account for its positive effect on the immune system. This particular bacteria is also associated with a lowered risk of developing colon cancer.
 
The seeds when crushed or the fresh or dried root, used as a face mask like treatment, are shown to reduce wrinkles in mature skin.
 
Burdock seed tea is an old remedy for the prevention and treatment of cataracts.

 

 

Medicinal actions include alterative (brings whole body back into balance), mild diuretic, demulcent (slimy and soothing), bitter tonic, gentle diaphoretic, depurative (skin healing).

 

 


dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions

*Due to its powerful dredging like cleansing action it is best to use burdock in smaller medicinal doses to begin with (especially if you have a long term condition and are feeling a toxin overload) and in combination with other herbs. It can bring on a kind of 'healing crisis' if you go too fast with it. Signs of this would be a worsening of existing symptoms or development of new rashes, headaches etc.
*Avoid in large doses in pregnancy or breast feeding due to its deeply cleansing nature. Small and occasional edible doses would be more appropriate.
* Diabetics should use burdock cautiously due to its blood sugar lowering effect.

Adult 

Tincture of root: 2-4 ml, up to 3 times daily.

Dried root as a decoction: 1 teaspoon per cup, 3 times daily. Simmer the teaspoon of herb in just over a mug full of water for 15-20 mins, strain off the liquid and drink.

 

*Burdock root, fresh, dried or powdered ca be added to soups and stews at the end of cooking for a nutritional boost to the dish and to capture the medicinal properties. Fresh root can be shredded and added to stir fries and salads also. The young leaf stalks can also be eaten and make quite a tasty vegetable.

*The leaves can be used fresh or dried as a poultice for skin conditions or to apply to cysts and swellings.
*Burdock root combines well with herbs such as dandelion root. A popular formula is 3 parts dandelion to 1 part burdock root.

 

Children

Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.
 
 

 

 

 

 

 


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