Burdock

Botanical name

Arctium lappa

Common Names

Greater burdock, edible burdock, beggar's buttons, lappa

FAMILY

Compositae (Asteraceae)

Description

Burdock is famed for having inspired George de Mestral, the inventor of Velcro, as its seed heads are covered with tiny hooks that latch on to the clothes of unwary passers-by.

Part supplied

The chopped root.

Food Use

In Japan, the young taproots (the most dominant root) are called gobo and considered a staple delicacy. The roots are high in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, and can be stir fried and simmered with soy sauce, or parboiled and pickled in vinegar, to be eaten with sushi. 

Burdock roots have a slightly sweet flavour and crunchy texture slightly more chewy than most root vegetables and are often used like salsify. Chopped into similar sized pieces, and tossed in olive oil and garlic salt, they can also be roasted with beetroots, parsnips and turnips to make a tasty root roast. Like dandelion root, the roast and ground root can also be used as a coffee substitute. 

In the Spring, burdock stalks can be peeled and eaten raw in salads, or boiled and eaten like asparagus although they taste more like their relative, artichoke. Candied in sugar, like angelica, the young stalks were once traditional sweets. The leaves, flowers and seeds are also edible but the leaves are extremely bitter. They are sometimes used instead of kitchen foil to wrap fish, potatoes or burdock roots prior to roasting. 

Recipes

Use 1 teaspoon of dried herb to one cup of boiling water to make a tasty tea. Infuse for 5-10 minutes. Sweeten with honey or lemon to taste.

Alternatively add half a teaspoon (2.5 ml) of tincture to a cup of warm water for a quick alternative to tea.

The herb can be added as a flavouring to gin, vodka and other infusions.

Medicinal Use

Burdock root is valued as a detoxifying herbal supplement which supports the liver and bowel. 

Whilst it has anti-inflammatory properties and is used in arthritis and gout medicines, due to its detoxifying effect on the kidneys and ability to help the body to eliminate uric acid, it is best-known as a skin herb. Traditionally this action was referred to as blood cleansing and burdock is still the staple herb used in treating eczema, psoriasis, acne, boils, staphylococcal infections and other skin disorders. 

Inulin, found in the starch, helps to lower blood sugar so is useful in helping prevent the development of diabetes. Burdock is also adaptogenic and helps to normalise metabolic and hormonal functions. Due to its detoxifying effect on liver and particularly the kidneys, it is also used in blends to treat water retention and urinary problems. 

Key actions: Mild laxative and diuretic, depurative.

Alterative, adaptogenic, diaphoretic, demulcent, detoxifying, diuretic, astringent, bitter tonic, digestive, mild laxative, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, antitumour, hypoglycaemic, probiotic.

In clinic: Herbalists use this herb to treat rheumatism and gout, cystitis as well as skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. 

If you are interested in the medicinal use of this herb please consult a herbalist. Herbs are generally used at medicinal strength, in blends, prescribed for each unique patient's condition.

Directions

Infusion: 1 teaspoon of herb (2 to 6 g) to a cup of cold water. Pour boiling water over the herb and leave to infuse for 5 to 10 minutes. Flavour with lemon, ginger or honey if desired. Drink 3 times a day unless otherwise told by a medical herbalist.

Decoction: 1 teaspoon of herb (2 to 6 g) to a cup of cold water, bring to the boil and leave to sit for 15 minutes. Or steep 1 teaspoon bark in cold water overnight. Flavour with lemon, ginger or honey if desired. Drink 3 times a day unless otherwise told by a medical herbalist.

Tincture: Take 8 to 16 ml (1:10 tincture), 3 times a day or as directed by a practitioner.

Fluid extract: 1:1 Take 2 to 8 ml, 3 times a day or as directed by a practitioner.

Dried Herb: Maximum of 18 g per day may be taken as a powder or capsules.

Other Uses

Cosmetic Use

Cosmetically, clinical trials have proven that burdock root extract helps to improve the outer skin's metabolism and visibly reduces wrinkles in as little as 4 weeks! So it is great added to creams for mature skins.

Other Uses

None known.

Cautions

Contraindications

None known.

This herb is considered safe in food amounts. Do not take if you are allergic to this plant or other members of this plant's family (Compositae). Not all herbs are suitable in pregnancy, breastfeeding or for young children. If in doubt, please ask us or your medical herbalist.

Side effects

Contact dermatitis has been reported as a side effect in some cases during tests. Plant extracts cause few side effects when taken correctly but if a side effect is experienced please contact us.

Interactions with drugs

None known.

Herbal remedies and supplements can interact with medicines. If you are taking medication please check with your medical practitioner, or call us, before taking herbs, supplements and medication together.

More Information

 It grows up to 150 cm with large oval, slightly heart-shaped leaves with pronounced ribs, reminiscent of downy rhubarb leaves. The flowers, bearing a passing resemblance to a soft thistle are held upright and the seed heads will often last all winter. 

Burdock is found in Great Britain. In Scotland, it inspired the annual 'Burryman' festival, held every August in South Queensferry, since at least 1687. Here a local man, the Burryman, is covered with burdock heads (around 11,000 in all) and parades through the town to bring good fortune.

Articles

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Recipes

Look in our recipes section for more uses of this herb.

Research

Read the latest PubMed research on this herb.

Add to BagArctium lappa - Burdock root 100g £7.75
Add to BagArctium lappa - Burdock root 1kg £51.00
Add to BagArctium lappa - Burdock root tincture 100ml £6.50
Add to BagArctium lappa - Burdock root tincture 500ml £21.25
Add to BagArctium lappa - Burdock root tincture 1L £35.50

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