Burdock (Lappa Lappa minor)

Bardane Beggar's Button Thornybur


Parts used and where grown: Burdock is native to Asia and Europe. The root is the primary source of most herbal preparations. The root becomes very soft with chewing and tastes sweet, with a mucilaginous texture.

In what conditions might burdock be supportive?

¥ acne

¥ psoriasis

¥ rheumatoid arthritis

MEDICINAL PROPERTIES: Blood purifier. Cleanses and eliminates impurities from the blood rapidly. Will clear skin diseases, boils and carbuncles. Made into a salve for skin eruptions, burns, wounds. Diuretic, especially good for children. Excellent to reduce weight!

Historical or traditional use: In traditional herbal texts, burdock root is described as a "blood purifier" or "alterative" 1 Burdock root was believed to clear the bloodstream of toxins. It was used both internally and externally for eczema and psoriasis as well as to treat painful joints and as a diuretic. In traditional Chinese medicine, burdock root in combination with other herbs is used to treat sore throats, tonsillitis, colds, and even measles.2 It is eaten as a vegetable in Japan and elsewhere.

Burdock root has recently become popular as part of a tea to treat cancer. To date, only minimal research has substantiated this application.3

Active constituents: Burdock root contains high amounts of inulin and mucilage. This may explain its soothing effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Bitter constituents in the root may also explain the traditional use of burdock to improve digestion. It also contains polyacetylenes that have been shown to have antimicrobial activity.4 Burdock root and fruit also have the ability to mildly lower blood sugar (hypoglycemic effect). Even though test-tube and animal studies have indicated some antitumor activity for burdock root, these results have not been duplicated in human studies.5

How much should I take? Traditional herbalists recommend 2-4 ml of burdock root tincture per day. For the dried root preparation in capsule form, the common amount to take is 1-2 grams three times per day. Many herbal preparations will combine burdock root with other alterative herbs, such as yellow dock, red clover, or cleavers.

Are there any side effects or interactions? Use of burdock root at the dosages listed above is generally safe. However, burdock root in large quantities may stimulate the uterus and therefore should be used with caution during pregnancy.


1. Hoffman D. The Herbal Handbook: A UserÕs Guide to Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1988, 23&endash;4. 2. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 107&endash;8. 3. Morita K, Kada T, Namiki M. A desmutagenic factor isolated from burdock (Arctium lappa Linne). Mutation Res 1984;129:25-31. 4. Wichtl M. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1994, 9&endash;101. 5. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 52&endash;3.


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


Disclaimer: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

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