Burdock is a biennial plant found in the Eastern and Northern U.S. and in Europe, along fences, walls, and roadsides, in waste places, and around populated areas. The root is long, fleshy, gray-brown outside, and whitish inside. In its second year, the plant grows a furrowed, reddish , pithy stem with woolly branches. During the first year burdock has only basal leaves.
Both basal and stem leaves are oblong, green and hairy on top and downy gray underneath. The purple flowers appear in loose clusters from July to September.
Family: Compositae (Composite family)
Other Names: Lappa, Lappa minor, Beggar’s buttons, Clothburr, Cockleburr, Cockle buttons
Flowers: July – September
Parts Used: Roots, leaves, and seeds
Habitat: Waste places, most of our area
History: A European native, burdock was naturalized in this country with the first foreign travelers. It was already known and widely used in the Old World. The white settler in America passed their knowledge of its usefulness to the Indians. And the plant eventually did appear in American pharmacopoeias, being listed for use as a diuretic and diaphoretic.
Properties: Aperient, Cholagogue, Diaphoretic, and Diuretic.
Main Uses: Acne, arthritis, cancer, canker sores, eczema, gout, hemorrhoids, HIV, kidney stones, lower back pain, inpotence, psoriasis, rheumatism, sciatica, to purify the blood, and ulcers.
Burdock purifies and cleanses the tissues and blood and for this reason should be used gently over a period of time. The whole plant has mild diuretic, sweat inducing, and laxative properties. It is prescribed for skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis. Burdock has an anti-microbial action which has been attributed to the polyacetylenes in the plant. This explains its reputation for treating skin eruptions such as boils and acne.
The roots and leaves can be used to treat rheumatism and gout because they encourage the elimination of uric acid via the kidneys. The bitter taste of burdock is tonic to the digestive system; the are said to stimulate the secretion of bile.
Burdock leaves are useful externally as a poultice for bruises and skin problems. The fresh, bruised leaves are sometimes used as a remedy for poison ivy. The seeds contain an oil that is used medicinally, but only with medical supervision.
Preparation And Dosages:
Collect the root in the spring or fall of the second year, or when the plant has a stem. The root may be used fresh or dried.
Decoction: Use 1 teaspoon root with 1 cup cold water. Let stand for 5 hours, then bring to a boil. Take 1 cup a day.
Tincture: Fresh root – 1:2, dry root – 1:5 in 60% alcohol. Take 30 to 90 drops in water, chamomile tea, or regular tea, up to three times a day.
Juice: Grate the fresh root and add half again as much water. Squeeze out the liquid. Drink 1 cup a day, a mouthful at a time.
Burdock is also a wild food.