Burdock Root

Burdock Root – Arctium lappa, Compositae

Burdock is a most valuable remedy for the treatment of skin conditions which result in dry and scaly skin. It may be most effective for psoriasis if used over a long period of time. It will be useful as part of a wider treatment for rheumatic complaints, especially where they are associated with psoriasis. Part of the action of this herb is through the bitter stimulation of the digestive juices and especially of bile secretion. Thus it will aid digestion and appetite.

It has been used in anorexia nervosa and similar conditions, also to aid kidney function and to heal cystitis. In general, Burdock will move the body to a state of integration and health, removing such indicators of systemic imbalance as skin problems and dandruff. Externally, it may be used as a compress or poultice to speed up the healing of wounds and ulcers. Eczema and psoriasis may also be treated this way externally, but it must be remembered that such skin problems can only be healed from within and with the aid of internal remedies.

Names: Lappa, Beggars Buttons.

Habitat: Grows in hedges and ditches in Europe, parts of Asia, N. America; cultivated in Japan.

Collection: The roots and rhizome should be unearthed in September or October.

Part Used: Roots and rhizome.


  • Lignans, including arctigenin, its glycoside arctiin, and matairesinol.
  • Polyacetylenes, in the root, mainly tridecadienetetraynes and tridecatrienetriynes, with the sulphur-containing arctic acid.
  • Amino acids, such as a-guanidino-n-butyric acid
  • Inulin in the roots
  • Miscellaneous organic acids, fatty acids and phenolic acids; including acetic, butyric, isovaleric, lauric, myristic, caffeic and chlorogenic acids.

Actions: Alterative, diuretic, bitter.

Priest & Priest tell us that it is a general alterative: influences skin, kidneys, mucous and serous membranes, to remove accumulated waste products. It is specific for eruptions on the head, face and neck, and for acute irritable and inflammatory conditions. They give the following specific indications: Eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis. Boils, carbuncles, styes, sores. Rheumatism, gout and sciatica. Ellingwood recommends it for the following pathologies: aphthous ulcerations; irritable coughs; psoriasis and chronic cutaneous eruptions; chronic glandular enlargements, syphilitic, scrofulous and gouty conditions.

Combinations: For skin problems, combine with Yellow Dock, Red Clover or Cleavers.

Preparations & Dosage: Decoction: put l teaspoonful of the root into a cup of water, bring to boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.

Tincture: take 2-4ml of the tincture three times a day.

Blood purifier, syphilis, skin diseases and eruptions, gout, canker sores, gonorrhea, leprosy, burns, hemorrhoids, excellent to reduce fat. Long and enthusiastic history begins with tonic use by the Ojibwa Indians and includes vigorous support by Master herbalist Jethro Kloss. As a prime ingredient in a powerfully healing blend it was popularized by Canadian nurse Rene Caisse and John F. Kennedy’s personal physician. A rich source of Monatomic Rhodium and Iridium. A legendary herbal blood purifier used for venereal diseases. Heightens kidney efficiency thus relieving sluggish lymphatics. Most notable benefits eventually become visible on skin and complexion – A beauty herb! Supportive of mucous membranes throughout the body. Legendary for fat reduction.

Burdock is one of the foremost detoxifying herbs in both Chinese and Western herbal medicine. The dried root of one year old plants is the official herb, but the leaves and fruits can also be used. It is used to treat conditions caused by an ‘overload’ of toxins, such as throat and other infections, boils, rashes and other skin problems. It may be most effective for psoriasis if used over a long period of time. The root is thought to be particularly good at helping to eliminate heavy metals from the body. The plant is also part of a North American formula called essiac which is a popular treatment for cancer. Its effectiveness has never been reliably proven or disproven since controlled studies have not been carried out. The other herbs included in the formula are Rumex acetosella, Ulmus rubra and Rheum palmatum.

The plant is antibacterial, antifungal, carminative. It has soothing, mucilaginous properties and is said to be one of the most certain cures for many types of skin diseases, burns, bruises etc. It is used in the treatment of herpes, eczema, acne, impetigo, ringworm, boils, bites etc. The plant can be taken internally as an infusion, or used externally as a wash. Use with caution. The roots of one-year old plants are harvested in mid-summer and dried. They are alterative, aperient, blood purifier, cholagogue, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic and stomachic. The seed is alterative, antiphlogistic, depurative, diaphoretic and diuretic. Recent research has shown that seed extracts lower blood sugar levels. The seed is harvested in the summer and dried for later use. The crushed seed is poulticed onto bruises. The leaves are poulticed onto burns, ulcers and sores.

Root – raw or cooked. Very young roots can be eaten raw, but older roots are normally cooked. They can be up to 120 cm long and 2.5 cm wide at the top, but are best harvested when no more than 60cm long. Old and very long roots are apt to become woody at the core. Although it does not have much flavor the root can absorb other flavors. Young roots have a mild flavor, but this becomes stronger as the root gets older. The root is white but discolors rapidly when exposed to the air. Roots can be dried for later use. They contain about 2.5% protein, 0.14% fat, 14.5% carbohydrate, 1.17% ash. The root contains about 45% inulin. Inulin is a starch that cannot be digested by the human body, and thus passes straight through the digestive system.

In some people this starch will cause fermentation in the gut, resulting in wind. Inulin can be converted into a sweetener that is suitable for diabetics to eat. Young leaves – raw or cooked. A mucilaginous texture. The leaves contain about 3.5% protein, 1.8% fat, 19.4% carbohydrate, 8.8% ash. Young stalks and branches – raw or cooked. Used like asparagus or spinach. They taste best if the rind is removed. The leaf stalks can be parboiled and used as a substitute for cardoons. The pith of the flowering stem can be eaten raw in salads, boiled or made into confections. A delicate vegetable, somewhat like asparagus in flavor. The seeds can be sprouted and used like beansprouts. Monatomic Rhodium & Iridum, Phytonutrients, Vitamins, Minerals & Fibers

Author: Life Enthusiast