Jan 27, 2013

Health Applications of Burdock

Burdock (Arctium lappa) is considered a weed by many but to others it offers a range of health promoting benefits. Growing to up to 7 feet tall, it features clustered flowers with spine covered burs. The stems are hardy with a slightly red hue. The leaves are large. The plant is edible with interesting flavors. The leaves can be boiled and exhibits a flavor similar to spinach. The root can also be harvested and exhibits a flavor similar to artichoke.

After flowering, the plant produces numerous tiny brown seed pods; the seeds can be eaten providing a flavorsome crunch. You can also sprout the seeds on a wet napkin and use the sprouts to add to salads or in a sandwich. The root of the plant is often harvested to make an herbal tea and is the most common part of the plant used for medicinal purposes. This article discusses the nutritional properties of burdock, its applications towards promoting health, recommended dosage to treat ailments and any associated side effects.

Nutritional Properties of Burdock

A cup of burdock is only 85 calories and is a source of carbohydrates and small amounts of protein. It has insignificant amounts of fat at only 0.1 grams. It is a healthy source of fibre which can help keep bowel movements regular. It is also a good source of vitamin B6 and a rich source of the minerals manganese, magnesium, iron, thiamine and silicon.

Health Benefits of Burdock Root Tea

  • Treatment for Fluid Retention

    Burdock root tea is a natural diuretic meaning it helps to rid the body of excess fluids via the kidneys. It is useful for treating edema, a condition that causes fluid to pool in many areas of the body. It can also help to lower blood pressure which helps to prevent heart disease and stroke. Loss of excess fluid can lower body weight also but must be noted, this weight loss is water only and not fat loss. If you drink burdock tea regularly it can cause dehydration and hence it is recommended to drink plenty of water throughout the day when taking this supplement.
  • Treatment for the Symptoms of Premenstrual Stress

    Burdock root tea can help ease the symptoms of breast tenderness, bloating, cramps, abdominal pain and mood swings associated with the menstrual cycle. It is recommended to drink up to 3 cups per day for symptom relief.
  • Treatment for Eczema, Psoriasis, Acne, Skin Rash and Dermatitis

    You can make a burdock root tea for topical use to treat many skin conditions. Allow the tea to cool then use a clean cloth soaked in the tea and apply directly as a compress to the irritated skin. It helps to soothe the skin and reduce inflammation. It is also an antibacterial and anti fungal agent helping to heal bacterial and fungal infections.
  • Treatment for Stomach Ailments

    Being a good source of fiber, burdock in all its forms can help improve digestion. It can be taken to relieve the symptoms of chronic indigestion and gallstones. It can also help to prevent and treat flatulence and constipation.
  • Treatment for Urinary Tract Infections and Kidney Stones

    Burdock root tea is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial. It can be taken to help treat bacterial infections of the urinary tract. Being a diuretic also, it helps to flush out the kidneys, breaking up and dislodging small kidney stones and helping to remove bacteria from the urinary tract.
Side Effects of Burdock

Burdock is generally well tolerated but can have the unwanted side effect of dehydration. It can also cause the blood to thin and should not be taken with prescribed blood thinners. It may lower blood sugar levels and hence should not be taken if you are taking prescribed blood glucose lowering medication for diabetes. It may cause an allergic reaction in some sensitive people especially if you are allergic to daisies, ragweed, chrysanthemums and or marigolds. Pregnant and breastfeeding woman should not take this herb.

Recommended Dosages of Burdock

For most ailments it is recommended to take 1 to 2 grams in capsule form three times a day. You can drink the herbal tea up to 3 cups per day. As a topical treatment, apply as required.

In conclusion, burdock is an interesting herb with many applications for health. Considering it is a pesty weed growing freely in America, Asia and Europe, it is easy to grow in your own herbal garden. To make your own herbal tea, simply steep 2 teaspoons of the dried root powder with a cup of boiling water. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before consuming. Most people prefer to add honey, lemon or sugar as has a slight bitter taste.

The fresh root can be used also by removing the root from the ground, cleaning it and chopping it up. Add 2 tablespoons of fresh root to boiled water and let steep before straining and drinking. Young roots are best but older roots can be used after scraping away the outer woody coating. If you are considering using burdock to treat your ailments, it is recommended to consult your physician first.


University of Maryland Medical Center Burdock Retrieved December 26,2012
Georgetown University Medical Center Burdock Retrieved December 26,2012
New York Time Melissa Clark At the Root of the Weed, a Secret Ingredient Retrieved December 26,2012


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