Arctium lappa


Known throughout the world, burdock is a superb nutritive tonic, a powerful cooling alterative, a rejuvenator and a deep healer. It was written about by Shakespeare, and used by the ancient Anglo-Saxons, Celts and Chinese.

Called such names as happy-major, clot-bur, and beggar’s buttons, burdock helps those dealing with skin problems including boils, skin rashes, acne, eczema, psoriasis and herpes. I apply a fresh root poultice or compress, use the infusion of dried root as a wash or fomentation or apply the infused oil. A cup of dried root infusion or 40-100 drops of fresh root tincture, taken at least twice a day, hastens resolution.

One of burdock’s constituents, arctigenin, inhibits tumor growth and the formation of cancerous cells in the laboratory. First Nations people use it to treat cancer and it is one of the herbs in Essiac, a well known anticancer remedy. I combine burdock roots with red clover, slippery elm and yellow dock roots (Susun Weed’s Wessiac) and have given this formula to numerous people with excellent results, including people suffering from severe side effects of chemotherapy. Daily use of 2-4 cups of burdock root infusion or 200 drops of fresh root tincture brings slow but steady results.

German researchers have found oxyacetylene in burdock, which kills disease-causing bacteria and fungi. To treat fungus infections, candida overgrowth and ringworm, herbalists recommend a cup of infusion, or 20-60 drops of tincture, at least twice daily.

Cherokee use burdock root as a female tonic, a remedy for rheumatism and to treat venereal disease. Potawatomi, Ojibwa and Chippewa use roots as a blood nourishing tonic. Meskwaki use it to ease labor pains.

Known as bardana maggiore, lappa bardana and lappola in Southern Italia, burdock roots are much appreciated and utilized for their remarkable benefits for the skin. The leaves are called Cardoon. They are gathered in spring, cleaned, boiled, dipped in egg wash and breadcrumbs and fried to a delicious golden brown. The leaf juice is employed as an astringent, for its wound healing effects and is also rubbed into oily hair and scalp to keep dandruff at bay. External application of crushed leaves applied to skin heals boils and acne.

As a superior long-term strengthener of the immune system, burdock is a mighty ally for those dealing with HIV, AIDS, cancer or chronic fatigue. It helps neutralize and eliminate carcinogenic chemicals. Burdock’s profuse mucilage binds with chemicals, heavy metals and unwanted by- products of metabolic processes, helping them to exit the large intestine quickly. Burdock is a reliable aid when constipation is a problem as well.

Burdock also nourishes intestinal flora. After a course of antibiotics I take 20-40 drops of fresh burdock root tincture twice daily for several weeks. The abundant inulin in the roots is an excellent probiotic.

Burdock root may be up to 40 percent inulin - a substance which helps stabilize blood sugar levels. Inulin slows digestion, including the digestion of carbohydrates. This allows sugar to be released slowly without spiking, promoting healthy blood sugar levels. Those dealing with diabetes or hyper/hypoglycemia may find regular use of burdock, in any form, helpful. Inulin can also help the body to better absorb calcium, so helps create a stronger skeletal system.

Rooted way down inside the body of Mother Earth, burdock is rich in nutrients such as iron, magnesium, calcium, chromium, cobalt, silicon, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, carotenes, protein and mucilage. Burdock root also contains volatile oils, terpenes, tannins, flavonoids, phytosterols, insulin, sugars, starch and resins. The fresh root is loaded with vitamin C, essential fatty acids and vitamin B2.

Asians call burdock gobo and eat it as a vegetable, believing it offers gifts of longevity and sexual vitality. Ayurvedic healers consider

burdock root an effective remedy against colds, flu, sore throat and pneumonia. Chinese herbalists call burdock seeds niu bong zi and use them to remedy the common cold and sore throats.

Burdock seeds help heal chronic urinary problems, ease inflammation or irritation of the bladder and act as a tonic to the kidneys. In Appalachia, burdock seeds are used to counter rheumatism and to nourish the blood. Burdock seeds affect both the sebaceous and sudoriferous glands. They do a wonderful job restoring health to hair, skin and nails. Burdock works slowly but surely. One to three years of daily use is typical. Burdock combines well with dandelion root, the two enhancing each other like a supportive compatible couple.

Flower Essence Burdock flower essence rejuvenates the brain, clearing distracting thoughts and enhancing the ability to stick to a task.

Magical Lore Keep a piece of burdock root to honor your ability to find nourishment for the deepest parts of yourself, and to offer deep healing to others. Sprinkle an infusion around the house to dispel negativity.

Culture I dig burdock roots late in the fall, after their first year of growth, or very early the following spring, before the leaves have begun to grow again. Inside the black outside layer is a beautiful, sparkling, white center with a surprisingly sweet taste. Sometimes we plant the seeds of burdock in the garden in spring so we can easily harvest the long taproots in fall. These roots can be added to your soups and stews all through the winter to boost immunity and help prevent colds and flu.

I tincture fresh burdock roots in a alcohol or vinegar, or infuse them in oil or honey. I dry them for infusions by hanging them whole or place them, whole or sliced, on a screen. Fresh burdock roots stored in the root cellar like carrots maintain their integrity all winter long. Gather burdock seeds when they turn brown and tincture fresh in alcohol or infuse in oil.

“God has arranged all things in consideration of everything else.”

Hildegard von Bingen

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