Herb Basics: All the Burdock Benefits

| March/April 2002

Common names: Burdock, gobo, burr, beggar’s buttons
Latin name: Arctium lappa
Family: Asteraceae
Part used: Seeds, leaves and roots
Medicinal uses: Burdock is used as a blood purifier and can help clear up skin problems such as acne and eczema. The root is often used to help ease liver congestion and for its cancer-preventive properties. Both burdock leaves and roots have mild laxative and diuretic properties.
Forms commonly used: Tea, tincture, capsule and fresh root.
Side effects: In the Botanical Safety Handbook (CRC Press, 1997), burdock is listed as a Class 1 herb, meaning it can be safely consumed when used appropriately. However, according to the American Pharmaceutical Association’s Practical Guide to Natural Medicines (Stonesong, 1999), the FDA classifies burdock as an herb of “undefined safety.” To be safe, check with your health-care provider before using large amounts of the herb.
Notes: Many people enjoy harvesting fresh burdock. The plant likes to grow in disturbed areas such as roadsides and ditches. To make burdock tea, simmer 1 teaspoon of the fresh or dried root per cup of water for 30 minutes. Strain and drink 1 cup three times daily. According to Steven Foster, author of 101 Medicinal Herbs (Interweave, 1998), burdock is commonly grown as a vegetable in Japan, as carrots are in the United States.

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