The dried root of the burdock species of plants is used to make an herbal remedy known simply as the burdock. This remedy is actually made from the dried first year root of the great burdock - botanical name: Arctium lappa L., or from the roots of the common burdock - botanical name: Arctium minus of the plant family Asteraceae found in the temperate regions of the world. The great burdock is not grown widely in the United States and has been naturalized in many parts of the country while it is found to be growing in the wild in continental Europe - to which it is native. The common burdock is the main source of the root for the preparation of the herbal remedy in America. The burdock species from both areas are hardy and coarse biennial herbs, which can grow quite large, they are characterized by bearing many hooked bracts or the sticky burrs which often cling to animal fur and clothing and are dispersed in this way. The great burdock - A. lappa is quite large in size and can grow up to nine feet in height, as for the smaller common burdock, the A. minus - a height of five feet seems to be the maximum size.
The remedy called the burdock has been widely utilized in the treatment of many types of disorders such as various chronic skin conditions affecting individuals, like the common psoriasis and acne - this remedy is also used extensively as a blood purification agent and an internal body cleanser. A diaphoretic ability as well as a diuretic action is attributed to the burdock and these properties benefit many people affected by urino-genital problems. At the same time, it must be mentioned that even though all these properties are attributed to the plant, they are still to be verified in recorded and established clinical trials, the actual presence of any of these positive effects still needs to be verified in scientific studies. At the same time, the chemical composition of the burdock under analysis shows comparatively high levels of the carbohydrate inulin, and with this other compounds such as plant based volatile oils, different types of fatty oils, the carbohydrate sucrose, burdock resin and tannin and other chemicals are also seen. The chemical analysis of the fresh burdock root during one interesting study showed the presence of at least fourteen different polyacetylene compounds in the root of the burdock, bacteriostatic as well as fungistatic properties were displayed by at least two of these isolated chemical compounds from the root tissues of the burdock. This is in stark contrast to the dried and commercially medicated version of the burdock which has these chemicals in minuscule trace amounts - the fresh root of the burdock is to be preferred over the dried product for this reason. Root extracts of the burdock also display a mild antibiotic and cholagogic activity which are of great benefit in the treatment of certain conditions. The ability of the burdock to increase the carbohydrate tolerance in animal models is inferred from a detailed study on the compounds present in the roots and leaves, both of which possess some hypoglycemic activity. Furthermore, the animal model studies also identify the presence of anti-mutagenic activity in the extracts of the burdock.
Some caution is required whenever purchasing marketed herbal burdock products as the root of belladonna herb, also called the deadly nightshade - botanical name Atropa belladonna L.- is often mixed into the burdock for volume. This mixture may not always be from a nefarious motive as both plants posses very similar looking roots of these plants which can often result in creating a great confusion for the cultivator at the time of often harvest and processing. A failure of quality control in the commercial products is also due to the fact that the countries in East Europe are the places from which most of the commercially used burdock originates - needless to say, the processing and control of herbal products is not as rigorous in these countries as it is in the US. The supposed toxic nature of burdock was identified to be the reason fro atropine poisoning when the very first cases of atropine poisoning from consumption of herbal burdock tea were reported - the burdock has now been vindicated. However, the picture began to clear both in the United States and in Europe as more cases of such toxic effects from burdock were investigated clinically; contamination of the herbal product using the root of the belladonna herb was found to be the main cause of the toxicity in all cases.
Certification of all marketed burdock products is justified due to this potential danger of contamination, and a case can be made for the necessity to make all herbal marketers of the burdock run relevant detecting tests on their products for any atropine contamination before the release of such herbal products into the open market. However, all potential users of the plant who have adequate botanical knowledge are advised to collect the herbs for personal use directly from fields or buy them from the cultivator as burdock products of guaranteed quality and due certification are still not available in the mass market. The presence of any therapeutic activity in the burdock has not been scientifically verified even though the herb has had a traditional and extensive use as a folk remedy, this lack of positive scientific confirmation of the beneficial effects of burdock is very surprising as the herb remains popular with users. Burdock is also used as a culinary herb; the young leaves of the plant are often consumed as salad greens. Some antimicrobial properties may be present in the young roots of the burdock especially when they are fresh; unfortunately, this is countered by the absence of any confirmed medical value in the dried root of burdock which is marketed as a commercial herbal product.
Leaves, root, seeds, fruit.
The rapid elimination of accumulated toxins in the blood is accomplished by the burdock. The wonderful and very effective blood cleansing and the strong detoxification ability of the herb is a very well known property of the herb and is made use of by many herbalist around the world. Burdock effectively stimulates the digestive system and the functioning of the liver and also activates the pancreas as the roots, the leaves and the seeds have a very bitter flavor. These different parts of the burdock herb are used to bolster a weakened digestive system, they are also used to relieve excessive wind and flatulence, the burdock also has a mild laxative action, and is used for the treatment of abdominal distension as well as long term indigestion. Bacterial and fungal infections which are persistent can be effectively treated using the burdock; the herb is also very helpful in reintroducing and establishing the normal complement of bacteria inside the gut of affected patients. The elimination of toxic substances via the urine is also aided by the burdock due to its mild diuretic property.
Remedies made from the burdock herb are also used in the treatment of disorders such as water retention problems; they are used in the removal of internal stones and gravel and for treating the disorder called cystitis. Perspiration is induced by the burdock when the herb is ingested in the form of a hot decoction, it can be a very effective in this role as a detoxification agent, as it can aid in the rapid removal of toxins through the skin along with the perspired liquids. The high temperatures associated with a fever can be reduced by taking burdock, and as soon any signs of feverishness or at the onset of infection, it can be used to bring about rapid recovery and lowering of elevated body temperatures. The treatment of conditions and disorders such as persistent sore throats, long term tonsillitis, persistent colds and coughs can also be treated using the seeds of the burdock in the form of teas, tinctures and prepared medications such as tablets and capsules. The time involved in full recovery from skin infections such as the measles and the chickenpox can be increased and speeded up by taking burdock remedies - this is because the herb can induce skin eruptions sooner than they would normally appear on their own - this leads to faster healing and recovery times. Many chronic inflammatory disorders including the gout, persistent arthritis and rheumatism can also be treated using the burdock herbal remedies, as the herb can effectively push accumulated toxins into the bloodstream for quick elimination via the normal channels in these cases. The action of the sebaceous glands on the skin are also promoted by burdock and for this reason, remedies made from the burdock are effective and excellent for the complete treatment of all kinds of skin diseases affecting patients. Elevated blood sugar levels in diabetics can also be lowered effectively by the burdock and thus the herb can be used in the treatment of blood sugar problems in diabetes affected patients. Traditional medications made from the burdock root have been used to regulate the menstrual periods; this remedy is known to stimulate the functioning of the uterus in women. For this reason, this remedy has traditionally been used for the treatment of prolapse in women; it is also used to strengthen the women before and following childbirth when physical strength is low.
Where toxicity is a key factor in the onset of the disease, the effective diuretic property, the antibiotic action, as well as the mildly bitter actions of the burdock come into beneficial play and is considered very effective in the treatment of different skin disorders such as the common acne, different types of boils anywhere on the body, in the treatment of abscesses, to treat localized infections of the skin, in the treatment of disorders such as eczema, and in the treatment of psoriasis in individuals affected by the condition.
While the burdock plant is generally used in the making of herbal remedial mixtures with the addition of other beneficial herbs for example the dandelion, in a remedy where the other herb is added to balance the strong individual cleansing action of the burdock.