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What is burdock?
Burdock is a member of the thistle family. It was originally
grown in Europe and Asia, but is now widespread throughout
the U.S. It is a short, dull green plant that grows in light,
well-drained soil, with wavy, heart-shaped leaves and roots
that are brownish-green or black on the outside. Both the
root and leaves are used in herbal remedies; however, the
roots are the most important part in terms of herbal medicine.
Why do we need burdock? What is
it used for?
Burdock contains inulin and mucilage, which may ease certain
gastrointestinal conditions. It also contains many bitter-tasting
compounds which are thought to aid in digestion. In addition,
the plant has substances called polyacetylenes, which have
In traditional texts, burdock was classified as an "alterative"
or blood purifier. In traditional Chinese medicine, burdock
root is used in combination with other herbs to treat sore
throats, tonsillitis, colds, and
even measles. Today, it is used to treat a variety of skin
problems, including psoriasis, eczema, contact dermatitis
and gout. Preliminary studies have shown it can reduce inflammation
and liver damage, although these studies have not been duplicated
How much burdock should I take?
Many herbalists recommend 2-4ml of burdock tincture per day.
Another common recommendation is 1-2 grams of burdock capsules
three times per day.
What forms of burdock are available?
Dried burdock root is available in capsule or powder form.
Many stores also sell burdock tinctures and extracts; in addition,
dried burdock root can be used in tea.
What can happen if I take too much
burdock? Are there any interactions I should be aware of?
What precautions should I take?
While there are no known risks associated with burdock, the
toxicology of the plant is not well-known. Skin contact with
burdock may lead to skin irritation in sensitive patients.
Pregnant and lactating women should not take burdock.
Burdock may interfere with certain medications for diabetes
and hypoglycemia. Make sure to consult with a health care
provider before taking this (or any other) supplement.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Nutrition
- Bradley P (ed.) British Herbal Compendium.
Dorset, England: British Herbal Medicine Association; 1992:1:4649.
- Lin CC, et al. Anti-inflammatory and radical
scavenge effects of arctium lappa. Am J Chin Med
- Morita K, Kada T, Namiki M. A desmutagenic
factor isolated from burdock (arctium lappa linne).
Mutation Res 1984;129:2531.
- Swanston-Flatt SK, Day C, Flatt PR, Gould
BJ, Bailey CJ. Glycaemic effects of traditional European
plant treatments for diabetes. Studies in normal and streptozotocin
diabetic mice. Diabetes Res 1989;413:6973.
- Wichtl M. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals.
Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1994, pp. 9101.