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Burdock – Arctium lappa

Burdock (Arctium lappa)

Key Attributes: antiseptic, detox, diuretic, cleansing tonic

Excerpt:

Burdock is most famous for its blood cleansing abilities but may be one of the most under-appreciated plants.  It is widely used to treat skin conditions caused by an overload of toxins, like eczema, psoriasis, acne, and dermatitis.  As a powerful detoxifier with mild bitter properties, it is useful to maintain liver and digestive health as well. The burdock root is the most commonly used part in formulations targeting cell cleansing of waste and toxic products.burdock 150x150 Burdock   Arctium lappa

Discussion:

Burdock is a member of the Asteraceae family and is native to Asia and Europe.  It thrives in temperate climates and now grows all over the world, including the US.

The leaves, roots, and seeds have medicinal properties, although, in commercial remedies, the root is the most popularly used part.  Chemical constituents found in burdock include lignans, polyacetylenes, inulin, mucilage, pectin, and bitter glycosides.  Burdock’s actions are alterative, diuretic, bitter, and antibiotic.

As a bitter, burdock stimulates the secretion of digestive juices, including enzymes and bile.  In that action, it aids digestion and increases appetite, and thus is useful when addressing sluggish digestion as well as anorexia.

In Japanese (1986) and German (1967) studies, the polyacetylenes found in the root of burdock were shown to have an antibiotic effect.  Other studies have shown that burdock may protect against mutagenicity and have an antitumor action.  Recent studies show evidence that the seeds are anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and hepatoprotective. Historically, the seeds of the burdock plants were compressed to make a mixture that was effective in cleansing the bloodstream, easing pain from arthritis, and treating gout, rheumatism, ulcers, acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Its cancer-curing properties were also utilized in Russia and India. The Chinese used it as an aphrodisiac, and found it effective in treating barrenness and impotence.

Burdock’s active ingredients are arcigen, calcium, chlorogenic acid, essential oil, flavonoids, iron, inulin, lactone, mucilage, polyacetylenes, potassium, resin, tannin, and taraxosterol. The seeds of the plant contain beneficial fatty acids. The oil from the seeds can be used as a diaphoretic, which leads to increased perspiration, which is essential in cleansing the body of toxins or harmful elements. According to traditional healers, diaphoretics are integral to treating influenza, gallbladder or liver disorders, and to aid the kidneys which purify the blood.

Burdock root is eaten as a vegetable in many places. It has many nutrients like iron, inulin (a carbohydrate), and beneficial oils. Also, burdock can be used as a gentle laxative and help eradicate uric acid. Some of the active ingredients of burdock are polyacetylenes, which are known to be effective antibacterials and antifungals. Burdock enhances the performance of many of the organs which purify the body and eliminate toxins or waste (like the kidneys, liver, colon, etc). This enhances overall health and helps correct disorders.

burdock stir fry 150x150 Burdock   Arctium lappaIn general, burdock will help bring the body back to a state of balance and overall health.  It is used to treat any sign of systemic imbalance, and its deep detoxifying effect can address symptoms which have been present for years, even life-long disturbances, when used continuously over time.  To balance this strong cleansing action, and to assist in targeting the actions of the herb, other herbs are generally used alongside burdock.  A traditional pairing of burdock with dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a popular detoxifying remedy, and it is often included in liver, digestive, and hormonal balancing formulas.  Burdock is rarely used on its own.

Burdock is most effective in tincture form (30-60 drops, 2-4 times per day) or as a decoction (4 fl oz, 2-3 times per day).

Use of burdock is cautioned in pregnancy, and contraindicated in individuals who are allergic to members of the Asteracea family.

Watch this informative video on benefits of burdock and uses of various plant parts plus use of burdock roots as a vegetable in a stir fry: 0 Burdock   Arctium lappa

References:

Medical Herbalism by David Hoffman, FNIMH, AHG

Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Andrew Chevalier, FNIMH

300 Herbs by Matthew Alfs

OWC primary research staff assisting Jen Audry

This entry was posted in Herbs and tagged

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