Herb of the Week #6 :: Burdock Root

Happy much belated New Year’s everyone! I hope your 2017 is off to a fantastic start. For me, as I am sure for a lot of you as well, the holidays are fun and filled with great tasting food and drinks. So I figured it would be great to start the herb of the week series back up with a cleansing and rejuvenating plant. This week we are looking at an herb that is great for healthy digestion and detoxification: Burdock Root

 burdock_illustration

Botanical Latin Name: Arctium lappa

Botanical Family: Asteraceae (Aster) family

Parts used: root

Method: Tea, Tincture, food (for fresh root)

Actions: diuretic and mild laxative, nutritive, alterative, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, digestive stimulant, blood and lymph mover, liver tonic

Energetics: cool and alkalizing, distributes moisture around the body but ultimately drying

Taste: initially bitter, then sweet and pleasant

Dosage: Decoct (boil on stove then simmer for 10-15 minutes) 1 tsp to 1 tbsp dried root to 8 oz water for tea, up to 3 cups a day and/or 10-60 drops 1-3 times daily of tincture

Contraindications: pregnancy, loose stools, and not for long-term or excessive use can cause urinary or kidney issues

Burdock root is great for the kidney, liver, gallbladder because it supports the natural flow of lymphatic fluid and excretion of toxic byproducts from our cells. Since it’s gentle detoxifying properties and hormone balancing abilities, it’s wonderful for most skin issues, including excess oil production, chronic cystic acne, eczema and psoriasis. Since burdock supports the clearing and function of the liver it also in turn helps with bile production which in turn helps with better digestion and appetite. It can help purify the blood, clear excess uric acid and clear excess heat and congestion in the body. It has also been show in studies to have anticancer properties. It can help you rebuild and restore your energy levels. Burdock contains potassium, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, as well as antioxidants phenolic acids, quercetin and luteolin.

David Hoffman in his book Medicinal Herbalism, says, “burdock will move your body into a state of integration and health, improving indicators of systemic imbalance, such as skin problems and dandruff.”

Externally, it can be used as a compress or poultice to speed healing of wounds and ulcers. With fresh (or dried) burdock root, it can be sautéed or used in soups, and the inulin fibers in it helps improve digestion and offer a more stable blood sugar in the body.

Uses for burdock:

  • Skin issues like acne and eczema
  • Arthritis, sciatica, gout
  • Normalize menstrual cycle, especially for those in menopause and mastitis
  • Better digestion
  • Help to increase appetite
  • Good for acute irritability and inflammatory conditions
  • Tonsillitis
  • Staph infections
  • Chronic kidney stones
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Cysts with fluid
  • Epilepsy
  • Diabetes
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Helps relieve coughs and sore throats
  • Protects bones
  • Cradle cap

How to use burdock root:

  • Tea can be used daily, 1-3 cups. Decoct 1 tsp to 1 tbsp of dried root to 8 oz of water on the stove top, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Tincture use up to 2 droppers full (60 drops) 1-3 times daily for best results.

Here is great recipe from Rosemary Gladstar for a nourishing and restorative soup. This is great for someone suffering from a cold or flu or to simply improve immunity.

7-Herb Long-Life Soup

Extra-virgin olive oil

2 onions, sliced or chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

3 quarts of water or broth (chicken, veggie, etc.)

8 large shitake mushrooms, chopped

4 ounces fresh burdock root (or 2 ounces dried), thinly sliced

4 ounces fresh dandelion root (or 2 ounces dried), thinly sliced

2 ounces lyceum berries

1 ounce astragalus, thinly sliced

1 ounce fo-ti (Ho Shou Wu)

1 tbsp fresh grated ginger root

1 ounce ginseng root

miso paste (any type)

  1. In a large pot, heat just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until tender and golden.
  2. Add the water or broth and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the mushroom and herbs and simmer over low heat for several hours.
  4. When the roots are tender, turn off the heat and strain out the herbs, but you can leave the herbs in, especially if they are fresh. Add in miso paste to taste (just note, never boil miso paste is destroys the valuable enzymes). Add any other seasonings and chopped veggies as desired.
  5. Enjoy!

If you make this soup or have other ideas and recipes for burdock, I’d love to see pictures and read comments! Yum!

I also wanted to share with you the books that I have been pulling from for these herbal posts. My current favorites are: Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, The Herbal Apothecary, Medicinal Herbalism, 300 Herbs, and Herbal Medicine.

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