Articum lappa L.
George de Mestral, a Swiss inventor, was the creator of Velcro. He happened to become inspired for this invention by observing how the burrs of the Burdock so wonderfully stayed stuck to his dog’s fur after the dog’s romps in the woodlands!
Our commonly used name, Burdock, comes from the French beurre meaning “butter” and the English word dock refers to leaves. French women would cover and wrap their large cakes of butter up with the beautiful, wide spanned leaves of the Burdock plant to bring it to the market. The leaves are also considered an edible, best cooked young and in several changes of water to be eaten as a potherb. However, expecting a pleasant taste would lead to a bitter surprise. Stalks harvested before the flowering can be peeled and used raw or cooked, as well. The root of the Burdock plant – the part most medicinal – can be roasted up and easily used as a coffee substitute.
Burdock comes from the Asteraceae (Daisy) family and has many other folk names, such as Bardane, Beggar’s buttons, Clotburr, Gypsy rhubarb, Hardock, Hareburr and Happy major. It’s primary medicinal function is to promote detoxification and resolve dampness. It is dissolving, stimulating and restoring.
Energetically, Burdock is cooling, drying, aligns with Yin polarity, has planetary alignment with Venus, Jupiter and Saturn, exists with the Water element, and Burdock’s actions are downward moving with a bitter taste.
Burdock works especially well with the lymphatic system, the immune system, the genitourinary system and the skin. It primarily works to reduce lymph fluid congestion, relieve skin irritations, stimulates the immune system, dissolves bladder stones and malignant tumors. Burdock’s secondary actions include the harmonization of urination, the regulation of menstruation, promoting sweat to reduce a fever, promoting proper bile flow to ease digestion, and can work to reverse prolapse.
These actions are most beneficial to alleviate ailments like ovarian cysts, lymphadenitis, eczema, psoriasis, gout, poisoning, allergies, eruptive fever, dysmenorrhea and ulcers. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the patterns we would see Burdock helping with most medicinally are Skin Damp-Heat, Kidney Qi deficiencies, Uterus Qi stagnation, External Wind-Heat, Central Qi sinking, Toxic Heat and Metabolic Toxicosis Damp.
A typical decoction dose of Burdock root would fall in the range of 6-12g per dose, depending on severity. A tincture dose, granted the tincture is a 1:2 in 25% ethanol, falls in the range of 1-4ml per dose. An oil, ointment or cream using burdock root can absolutely be used topically to relieve skin ailments. With the decoction method, you can make a hair rinse to prevent dandruff and hair loss, or use decoction as a facial toner for those who suffer excessively oily skin.
Fresh roots are best for lowering blood sugar and best for antibacterial and antifungal purpose!
Liver Cleansing to Normalize Female Hormone Function
from Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, 2008
2 parts chaste tree berry
2 parts dandelion root
2 parts sassafras bark
1 part burdock root
1 part ginger root
1 part licorice root
½ part cinnamon
¼ part orange peel zest
Combine all herbs and prepare as a decoction, drinking 3 to 4 cups daily as needed.
Click Here for basic instruction from Mountain Rose Herbs on making decoctions – it’s super easy!
When using Burdock, one must stay aware of the body’s reactions to the detoxification process. It is wise to increase doses gradually. It may be best to combine with stronger diuretics, such as Dandelion leaf, to ensure a more effective detoxification through the urine. If pregnant, only use during the last trimester if you must, as a gentle urinary stimulant.
The Energetics of Western Herbs Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Peter Holmes, Fourth Edition, 2006
The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine, Brigitte Mars , A.H.G., 2007