Burdock Benefits Your Body
Burdock is a Healthful Plant for You
Burdock is often considered a weed, but it's also used as an herbal medicine. The benefits of burdock include its use as a blood purifier and a diuretic, and it supports the health of the liver, kidneys, and bladder. Burdock root makes up the largest portion of the four herb Essiac Tea formula.
Burdock is easy to identify, and it's easy to find in "disturbed" areas, such as along fences and roads. We have it growing in our garden area (not on purpose!), but we've been putting it to great use, adding slices of the nutritious root to our stir fry meals.
Burdock and dandelion are sometimes mixed together in teas and other drinks (beer and a British soft drink), and used as digestive aids.
Flickr photo by dendroica
Burdock is a Biennial "Weed"
Burdock (Arctium spp) is a member of the Asteraceae family, which also includes asters and daisies. It's native throughout Europe and northern Asia, and it has spread throughout North America as well, after being brought over(probably accidentally) from the Old World.
Most people consider burdock to be an invasive weed. It grows in "disturbed" areas, such as along roads and fences, in pastures and in abandoned lots. Burdock can grow to over 5 feet high, with leaves over a foot long.
Burdock has pink or purple flowers that are enclosed in a prickly seed pod, or "bur". These seed pods have many little hooks that get caught in fur, hair, and on clothing.
Burdock is a "biennial", meaning it blooms in its second year. During its first year, it grows a long taproot and a roseate of leaves low to the ground, and during the second year it grows the stalk and flowers. During the time I've been working on this lens (mid-spring), I've been noticing first year burdock growing in many places including in our soon-to-be tilled garden bed, and along the side of trails through our local wooded area.
Burdock Uses -- Medicinal
Health Benefits of Burdock
All parts of the burdock plant can be used for medicinal purposes, although the roots are most commonly used. Often the roots or the leaves are made into a tea, but extracts can also be also prepared.
Burdock is a "blood purifier", with detoxifying properties. It can be used as a diuretic and a laxative, and for joint pain and various skin problems, among many other uses. It's often taken as a tea, but can also be used as a poultice for skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, boils, and wounds.
Burdock is also used as a cancer-fighting remedy. As I mentioned earlier, burdock is the main ingredient in Essiac Tea, which is known mostly as an alternative or complementary treatment for cancer, and it is also used in the Hoxsey cancer treatment. Both treatments were scoffed at and even outlawed in the middle of the last century, being scorned as "useless treatments with extracts of useless backyard weeds."
But these "useless backyard weeds" have been used for centuries by other cultures for their curative effects, including for cancer.
Recent studies have shown that burdock has a number of anti-cancer properties. Certain compounds in burdock stimulate the immune system, promote healthy cell growth and suppress abnormal cell growth. Burdock also helps to regulate blood sugar levels, reducing hypoglycemia.
Burdock Uses -- Culinary
Crunchy, earthy taste
Burdock root is used as a root vegetable (like a carrot) in Japan, and it's rich in vitamins C and B, and magnesium. It has a crunchy, earthy taste, and it works well in soups and stir-fries. You can harvest your own burdock root , or you might be able to find it in an Asian grocery store. If you harvest your own, dig it up during the first year, since it gets tough and woody during the second year.
Some suggestions for eating:
- Cut into thin slivers and fry in vegetable oil until crispy, as an alternative to french fries.
- Chop into small chunks about a cup each: burdock, carrots, fennel, potatoes, turnips. Place them in shallow baking pan, drizzle with olive oil, and add garlic, salt, and pepper to taste. Bake for about 45 minutes at 375 degrees, or until tender.
- Stir-fry slices of burdock, carrot, and green onion in vegetable oil and sesame oil. Add soy sauce and toasted sesame seeds. A variation (see photo) is to stir fry burdock, carrot, green beans with minced cayenne pepper and crushed garlic in coconut oil. Serve over noodles.
Flickr photo by carianoff
Dandelion and Burdock Soda
A traditional British soft drink, from as far back as the 1200's, is made from dandelion and burdock. There are alcohol variations (Dandelion and Burdock beer) as well.
Dandelion and burdock are both bitter herbs, and as such are used as digestive aids.
You can make your own recipe of dandelion and burdock soda (also seasoned with ginger and anise) or buy pre-made, such as the cans of Barr's Originals Dandelion and Burdock.
Learn About Burdock From a Naturalist
"Wildman" Steve Brill is a naturalist and environmental educator in the Greater New York area. He leads foraging tours, teaching people how to find and harvest edible plants.
He says he "is best known for having been handcuffed and arrested by undercover park rangers for eating a dandelion in Central Park!"
Here Steve talks about Burdock -- what it looks like, where to find it, what its uses are, from medicinal to culinary uses.
Invention of Velcro Inspired by Burdock Burs
In 1948 the Swiss inventor George de Mestral came up with the idea for Velcro after a walk with his dog. Both George and the dog came back covered with burdock burs sticking to clothes and fur.
Being a man of "great curiosity", George inspected one of the burs under his microscope and saw all of the small hooks that so easily attached to his clothes and his dog's fur.
He came up with the idea of inventing a two-sided fastener -- one side made of stiff hooks like the burdock burs, and the other with soft loops like the fabric of his pants.
The word "Velcro" comes from the combination of "velour" (a soft plush fabric) and "crochet" hook.
Velcro was patented in 1955.
Organic Burdock, Organic Dandelion, and a few other assisting herbs work together in this tea to facilitate the elimination of toxins.
More On Edible Plants and Herbal Remedies
There are many common plants that are edible and also can be used medicinally. You may be interested in the following.
Burdock is often considered a weed, but it's also used as an herbal medicine. The benefits of burdock include its use as a blood purifier and a diuretic, and...
Sheep sorrel, or Rumex acetosella is a common weedy plant that grows throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere. Like the many species within this genus, it...
Essiac tea is a mild-tasting medicinal herbal tea that supports the immune system and nourishes the body.
I drink Essiac herbal tea for 2 - 3 weeks a couple...
The Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is familiar to most of us, with it's cheery yellow flower head that turns into a puffy sphere of seeds which then...
Red clover is a common plant, and familiar to many of us, with its showy dark pink flowers and attractive broad trifoliate (3 leaflets) leaves.
Main Resources for This Article
- Burdock - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Burdock is any of a group of biennial thistles in the genus Arctium, family Asteraceae. Native to the Old World, several species have been widely introduced worldwide.
- Sacred Earth - Foraging: Burdock (Arctium lappa)
To most people, Burdock does not offer a particularly pretty sight, though some might be impressed by its sheer size: burdock can grow more than to 5 foot tall and its huge, expansive, heart-shaped leaves can reach over a foot in length. A distinctiv
- Hoxsey Therapy for Cancer
For over three decades, Harry Hoxsey (1901-1974), a self-taught healer, cured many cancer patients using an herbal remedy reportedly handed down by his great-grandfather. By the 1950s, the Hoxsey Cancer Clinic in Dallas was the world's largest privat
- The Invention of Velcro - George de Mestral
George de Mestral takes his dog for a walk and a new invention is born Velcro
- Burdock Tea - Benefits, Uses and Preparation
Burdock tea can be prepared using burdock root, the leaves of the burdock plant, or both. It has many health boosting properties, including being a liver cleanser and for relieving inflammatory conditions.
- How to Eat Burdock | eHow.com
How to Eat Burdock. Used widely in Asia for medicinal and culinary purposes, burdock is a root vegetable that looks like a long, pale carrot. Burdock is rich in vitamins C and B, as well as magnesium and other...