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Herbal Profile: Burdock

Danielle January 17, 2018

Find recipes, the 10 top uses, information, and history of the super healthy herb burdock.

By Danielle, contributing writer

What is Burdock Root?

The scientific name for burdock is arctium lappa. It is common to Asia, North America, and Europe. It is also known in Asian countries where the steamed leaves are served as a common dish. Though the root is mostly used in healing teas and tonics today, the entire plant is edible and useful.

It is a towering green plant which can reach up to nine feet in height. The weeds can descend up to three feet, which is great for a tea supply but not always easy to harvest. It has furry and large oblong leaves and a thistly-purple flower. Chances are you’ve walked past burdock hundreds of times and ignored this weed.

Top 10 Uses for Burdock Root

Burdock root has shown to be one of the heaviest hitters among healthy herbs. This plant is implied to slow tumor growth and wrinkles. Here are ten of its awesome abilities.

  1. Skin Health
    Native Americans were known to make a facial tonic of burdock root to liven mature skin. The leaves were used as a poultice for insect bites and to regenerate blood circulation.
  2. Respiratory Issues
    Much like slippery elm, it has a slippery texture that has been used to soothe mucous membranes, such as a sore throat or a hoarse cough.
  3. Stomach Troubles
    In Chinese medicine, it was said to be a cold, base (alkali) herb that helped balanced out acids in the stomach, and as such was used for stomach ailments regularly.
  4. Cancer and Other Serious Illness Treatment
    Burdock root has been used to treat cancer successfully, especially when paired with a few other herbs in what is called “essiac tea.” Scroll below for more information and the tea recipe. It has also been shown to help diabetic patients, too.
  5. Food
    The herb has been used from seed to root as a food for thousands of years. Read more below to learn how you can use burdock as food.
  6. Blood Detoxification
    This herb greatly improves circulation, moving blood throughout the body and to the skin and liver for detoxification. The blood carries your nutrients, but also your toxins, so it’s extremely important to keep it clean – and flowing.
  7. Lymphatic Health
    Your lymphatic system does not have a pump, like your heart, so it relies on you to keep things moving. Burdock has been shown to improve lymphatic circulation as well, which is a huge boost to your overall immune health.
  8. Anti-inflammatory
    The high antioxidant count in burdock root has been shown to help lower inflammation, including joint issues such as arthritis in medical studies.
  9. Diuretic 
    Burdock assists in bile production and circulation, which is why it has been used (specifically the seeds) as a mild diuretic for years.
  10. Liver Support 
    Burdock root has been used to treat and even prevent liver damage. As your liver is the primary device to both process nutrients and expel toxins, it needs to stay in tip-top shape.

How to Prepare Burdock

Seed
The seed has been used as a mild diuretic by boiling a decoction in water.

Fruit
The fruit of the plant has been used for thousands of years to help with stomach and lung issues. Consume raw in salads and soups, or dry and use as a tea.

Leaves
The leaves can be eaten fresh or chopped and sauteed as is the common method in Japan in a dish called “gobo.” The leaves have also been used to cover wounds and balance blood flow when wrapped around or a poultice is applied to the skin.

Stalks
The stalks can also actually be eaten raw or steamed, and resemble the rooty taste of asparagus.

Root – Raw or Dried

You can purchase bulk burdock root, or many stores carry teas containing burdock root. It’s also an option to forage your yard and neighborhood for the stuff for free. It can be eaten raw, cooked, or dried and used in teas.

Burdock Root Tea Recipes

Simple Burdock Root Tea

Combine 1 tablespoon of loose, dried burdock root with one cup of boiling (filtered) water. Allow to cool 5 minutes, then enjoy.

You can also make a decoction – essentially a slow-brewed tea, which is much stronger. Boil 1 quart of water and place with 3 tablespoons of burdock root in a heat-safe glass jar. Allow the jar to sit for 6-8 hours, then strain the root out.

Essiac Tea Recipe

Burdock root is also an ingredient in the famous cancer treatment dubbed “essiac tea.” A recipe for the tea is below.

*This is a recipe for a half gallon of tea. You can multiply or divide the recipe based on the amount you wish to make.

Ingrendients

  • 5 tablespoons of burdock root
  • 2 teaspoons of slippery elm bark (not the powder)
  • 4 tablespoons of sheep sorrel
  • 2 tablespoons Turkish rhubarb root

 

Directions

Bring a half gallon of water to a boil and add all the herbs. Cover, and allow to sit for 24 hours. Heat again, but do not boil. Allow to cool, and strain out herbs. Keep in a sealed glass jar for up to one week in the refrigerator.

Learn more about essiac tea here, here, and here.

Burdock may be one of the most underutilized healthy plants. Forage or buy some for your home, and use regularly for potent health. 

***Burdock root should not be consumed during pregnancy, nor for those who are allergic to the asteraceae family, such as dandelions and daises. 

Have you ever used burdock root?

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Danielle was born and always will be a farm girl, searching for God’s natural truths in an unnatural world. She’s a doula, health coach, natural health activist, and currently obtaining her naturorthopathic doctorate degree. When she isn’t reading about holistic healing, you will likely find her chasing a sweet little boy or a small flock of rebellious chickens in the Midwest mud.
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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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