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Burdock Root

Veterinarian Reviewed on June 14, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized

Burdock Root (Arctium lappa)

The Burdock Root belongs to the genus Arctium that is derived from the Greek word ‘arktos’ meaning ‘bear’ to connote this plant’s shaggy burrs.


The Burdock Root is a fleshy taproot and can grow up to 1 meter long and can grow deep inside the soil. The root itself has many medicinal properties. It is brownish-green or nearly black in color. It is also very thick and has a sweetish taste. The leaves of the burdock plant are not used as frequently as the roots.

History and Origin

In historical herbal texts the Burdock Root has been described as a ‘blood purifier’. It was believed to purify the blood and free it of any toxins. During the Industrial Revolution, the Burdock Root was used to help people cope with the problems of increasing pollution. Burdock sticks to the fur of grazing animals and this was the inspiration for a Swiss inventor to create Velcro. Burdock plant is a part of the daisy family and is said to have grown and originated throughout Northern Asia and Europe. However now it is also found in various parts of the United States.

Ancient Uses

Folk herbalists used Burdock Root as a diuretic and a blood-purifying agent. It has been in use since ancient times as a medicinal herb to cure many ailments. It was used to cure measles and tonsillitis. The root was used to extract oil that was then used to treat the scalp for dandruff and excess Hair Loss. It also helped to improve hair growth. European herbalists used to mix Burdock Root oil with nettle root to maximize the benefits. Traditional Chinese medicine made use of Burdock Root for various homeopathic remedies and to cure sore throats and Colds. It was also used by the Chinese to treat infertility and impotence. Though Burdock Root has been in use for many centuries there have been very few scientific studies to examine its effects.

Modern Uses

Burdock Root is an excellent source of elements such as iron, potassium, calcium, Copper and chromium. The Burdock Root is extensively used today as it has essential oils that actually help to eliminate toxins from the body. The Burdock Root is also said to be high in insulin, which helps stimulate the appetite, as well as in aiding proper digestion. It is also known to cleanse the liver. It has antibacterial and anti fungal properties that help treat urinary infections and skin ulcers. An infusion of the Burdock Root can be applied internally to treat eczema. It also prevents hair loss and scalp problems like dandruff. Apart from this it helps boost overall immunity and calm down arthritis pain.

Side Effects

The Burdock Root is considered to be safe but it does have some side effects. Those include fluctuation in blood sugar levels, slow heart rate and a dry mouth. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should abstain from consuming it. As it is a diuretic, people suffering from dehydration should avoid it as it may aggravate the problem. Excess consumption causes uterine stimulation. Lastly, Burdock Root that is gathered in the wild is extremely unsafe.

Read also: Jojoba Oil

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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