Arctium lappa, A. minus
Common Name: Burdock, Great Burdock, Beggars Buttons, Burr Seed, Thorny Burr, Love Leaves
Part/s Used: Roots, seeds (fruits) and leaves
Energetics: Cooling, moistening
Taste: Salty, sweet, bitter, pungent, oily
Actions: Alterative, lymphatic, diuretic, hepatic, prebiotic
Tissue state: Atrophy, stagnation
Constituents: Tannins, arctigenin, arcitin, beta-eudesmol, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, inulin, trachelogenin 4, sitosterol-beta-D-glucopyranoside, lappaol, diarctigenin, minerals, vitamins B1, B2, C, and A, carotene, polysaccharides (inulin), flavonoids, lignans, mucilage, pectin.
Tincture (ratio & % alcohol): Fresh: 1:2 Dry:1:5 60%
Tea: Cold infusion or strong decoction
Acetum: Fresh 1:3
Habitat and Botanical Description:
Burdock is a wild food and medicine indigenous to Asia and Europe that has naturalized overtime in North America. Burdock thrives in poor soil along riverbanks, roadsides and wastelands. A large biennial with a rough sandpaper like texture. In the first year, burdock stores its energy in the root for winter to fuel the growth of its second year 4-5 foot tall seed stock. It produces a beautiful purple thistle like flower. The flowers fade and the bristles stiffen into a more efficient burr that contains its seeds that sticks to animal fur and clothing when brushed against. Burdock roots are carrot like, fibrous, slightly aromatic an grows 1-2 feet in length.
Burdock root is a versatile herb to have in the home apothecary. It’s bitter, sweet and oily. Rich in iron, magnesium, manganese, and thiamine. Burdock is an important herb to know because it works in so many different ways. Burdock is also known as one of the best herbs for dry atrophy.
Burdock is an alterative. A blood purifier that works directly on the blood as well as the lymph and has a strong affinity for the skin. Burdock works directly on the sebaceous glands, which if they are under secreting, Burdock can help produce more oil, if the skin is over secreting it can dry it out. Burdock works by regulating the oily metabolism of the body. This is useful when the body tissues need cleansing, moistening, and nourishment. Which helps to detoxify and calm external skin issues such as eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis and dandruff and acne.
The bitter action of Burdock stimulates the secretion of bile. Considered a “bear medicine” by the native americans stimulating the gallbladder and the liver. Combines well with dandelion root and yellow dock. Used as a bitter tonic to cleanse and relieve liver stagnation by promoting the secretion of digestive juices and helps one to assimilate nutrients more effectively and completely. Works similarly to dandelion root, but dandelion is a stronger bitter and works deeper in the liver. Combines well with dandelion root and yellow dock.
Burdock is an excellent prebiotic. Building, nourishing, and strengthening healthy bacteria in the gut to cultivate a well-established microbiome. Useful for individuals who have taken antibiotics and have been stripped of bacteria in the gut. A long slow decoction of burdock, dandelion root, nettle and licorice makes a simple, delicious, alterative formula.
The leaf can be used as a fresh plant poultice, reducing inflammation from thermal sunburns, rashes, and poison oak. The fresh root poultice can be used as a draining agent for cystic acne and abscesses (use along with another disinfectant)
Harvest Burdock root in Scorpio season during its first year of growth, or before it sends up its seed stock in the spring. Carefully loosen the dirt around the root with a hori hori and slowly and carefully unearth with your hands. If you pull too hard the root can break. Shake off the excess dirt and wash the root right before eating. If you decide to grow burdock in the garden, please plant responsibly by cutting back before it goes to seed or putting a paper bag over the top to keep the seeds from spreading. Burdock is non native and is known to spread rapidly.
Burdock is in the Asteraceae family and could trigger a rare reaction in people sensitive to this family.
- Corbett, Sarah.(2020). Burdock Monograph. https://rowanandsage.com/
- Gladstar, Rosemary. The Science and Art of Herbalism. Lesson 2
- Grieve, Mrs. M. (1971). A Modern Herbal Volume 1. New York, NY. Dover Publications.
- Popham, Sajah 2021, The Vitalist Herbal Practitioner Program, Lecture notes.
- Sinadinos, Christa (2014) Northwest School for Botanical Studies. Lecture Notes.
- Sinadinos, C. (2020). The Essential Guide to Western Botanical Medicine.
- Wood, M. (2008). The Earthwise herbal: A complete guide to Old World medicinal plants. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Disclosure: This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.