Burdock, latin name Arctium lappa, is a carrot-like root from the plant Arctium lappa, a biennial herb grown in China, Europe and the United States. Employed as a popular folk medicine around the world, burdock is also consumed as a vegetable in Japan, where it is called gobo.
Burdock seeds are crushed to make a popular tincture used to purify the blood, to treat gout and ulcers, arthritis, rheumatism, and cure skin diseases such as acne and psoriasis. In India and Russia the root is a popular anti-cancer remedy , and in China it is believed to be an effective aphrodisiac, useful in treating impotence and sterility.
The volatile oils of burdock seed are said to be an effective diaphoretic, used to inducing sweating as an aid in neutralizing and eliminating toxins from the body. This activity is widely utilized by herbal practitioner’s in the treatment of liver problems, gallstones, flu, and to support the kidneys in filtering acids from the blood stream.
Studies of burdock show that it is high in minerals, being a good source of iron. Data also indicate that the root is a good source of the carbohydrate inulin which can account for 45% of the plant mass. Burdock is also a good source of essential oils and other compounds that exhibit bacteriostatic and anitfungul activity.
Burdock is an effective diuretic and is considered a very safe herb and food product, though there have been cases where the purity of the root has raised some concern. Reported cases involving toxic effects were first thought to be caused by the consumption of burdock tea but were later determined to be caused by contamination of the burdock root with belladonna root which contains atropine. In light of such issues, when using burdock root determine the of the source and quality of root before purchase.