Burdock Root, a staple in ancient Chinese medicine has long been used to support the immune system, blood pressure, and promote liver health.
In this article, we'll take a look at the many Burdock root uses and health benefits. We'll even cover cover a few burdock root recipes and provide step by step instructions to make tea.
What is Burdock Root?
If you've ever ventured into the forest or even gone hiking, you've likely come across the Burdock plant. The small spiky seeds that get stuck on your shoes or clothes are the fruit of the Burdock plant.
It is a member of the Asteraceae family of small plants. This family includes daisies, sunflowers and the like. Burdock plants grow wild almost everywhere in the world. However some countries have begun to cultivate it for its many homeopathic uses.
While the pesky seeds are of no real use, the root of this small plant is where the magic happens. It can be eaten as a raw vegetable or cooked in soups or stews. However, Chinese herbal practitioners prefer to dry the root and prepare it in tea. It has a strong earthy flavor that makes a great hot or iced tea.
Burdock Root Health Benefits
The secret to Burdock Root's many health benefits may stem from its huge concentration of minerals, protein, fatty acids, anti-oxidants and vitamins. Just a 1/2 cup of Burdock root contains 2.6 grams of protein, 65mg of omega 6, 48mg of magnesium, 450mg of potassium and 61g of Calcium. Other high mineral concentrations include Zinc, Copper, Manganese and Phosphorus.
Now that we've had a few basics covered, let's dive into its traditional medicinal uses!
1. May help to boost the immune system
Burdock Root contains luteolin, phenolic acids and quercetin--powerful antioxidants that aid the immune system and help increase the body's ability to adapt to allergens. This in turn can lead to increased allergy resistance and less time fighting the cold and flu.
In addition, its antioxidant content also helps to protect the body from free radical cells.
2. May support healthy blood pressure and water balance
Scientific research has shown both magnesium and potassium to lower blood pressure. It's no secret that Burdock os packed with these two essential minerals. These same two minerals are also responsible for Burdock Root's diuretic properties. Since water retention is directly correlated to higher blood pressure, it's no surprise these two benefits go hand in hand.
3. May help to purify the Blood and promote Skin Health
Though some western medicine does not necessitate blood purification and detoxing, it is a constant Eastern traditional medicine.
An independent study conducted in 2011 actually demonstrated the pharmacological effects of Burdock Root on the body.
"In the root, the active ingredients have been found to “ help detoxify” blood in terms of TCM and promote blood circulation to the skin surface, improving the skin quality/texture and curing skin diseases like eczema. Antioxidants and anti-diabetic compounds have also been found in the root (Chan, 2011)."
4. May Help Improve Liver Health
Recent studies and Chinese literature have shown Burdock Root to help support the liver.
Though the studies have not been conducted on humans, a conclusive study on rats demonstrated Burdock root's health benefit to the liver.
5. May help to alleviate the cold and cough
Burdock Root's natural decongestant properties are ideal for those suffering with the cold or flu. Not only does its anti-inflammatory attributes help to dissolve mucus, but its expectorant characteristic forces it out of the body.
In addition, Burdock Root is packed with Vitamin C, a common immune booster.
6. May support Joint Health
Its anti-inflammatory properties are a major key when it comes to joint health.
How to make Burdock Root Tea
Burdock Root can come in either the tea bags or loose cut root. The tea bags are quite simple, simply let it seep in boiling water for at least 5 minutes for maximum potency. Then add honey to taste.
While the ready made tea bags are quite convenient, the ideal benefits originate from the potent loose cut root.
To make this tea, boil 1 ounce of the loose cut Burdock root in a gallon of water for 10 minutes, then allow it to steep for an hour. Next, bottle in a glass bottle and store in the fridge--consume one cup per day. If you prefer a more refreshing flavor, while the tea is still hot, sweeten it with honey and lemon/ginger.
Burdock Root Recipes
If you're a bit more curious in the kitchen, fresh Burdock root can be added to some of your favorite recipes. Simply wash and peel the fresh root, then it can be boiled in soups or sautéed with oil and garlic in your preferred dish.
Potential Side Effects of Burdock Root
Though it is considered safe for adults, studies have not been conducted on the effects of Burdock Root on children.
1. It is always better to buy Burdock root from reputable sellers, not harvest it from the wild as it does bear some resemblance to nightshade plants which are poisonous.
2. Since Burdock root is a diuretic, do not consume this herb when you're dehydrated as it will lead to more fluid reduction.
3. Pregnant or nursing women should not consume Burdock root
4. If you are allergic to daisies, you might be allergic to Burdock root as they belong to the same family of plants.
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- Chan, YS., Cheng, LN., Wu, JH. et al. Inflammopharmacol (2011) 19: 245. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10787-010-0062-4
- Maghsoumi‐Norouzabad, L. , Alipoor, B. , Abed, R. , Eftekhar Sadat, B. , Mesgari‐Abbasi, M. and Asghari Jafarabadi, M. (2016), Effects of Arctium lappa L. (Burdock) root tea on inflammatory status and oxidative stress in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Int J Rheum Dis, 19: 255-261. doi:10.1111/1756-185X.12477
- Predes, F. S., Ruiz, A. L., Carvalho, J. E., Foglio, M. A., & Dolder, H. (2011). Antioxidative and in vitro antiproliferative activity of Arctium lappa root extracts. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 11, 25. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-25