March 17th Herb Highlight

Burdock (arctium lappa) is a biennial plant originally from Europe that is now considered to be an invasive weed in North America.

Sharon Masterson gave our herb highlight on burdock.  The roots and the leaves are used in herbal medicine as a blood and tissue cleanser.  Burdock is rich in iron, magnesium, manganese, silicon, thiamine, as well as a host of other vitamins and minerals.  It has a cooling and alkalizing effect and is used for stagnant conditions of the blood and is an excellent blood purifier or alterative.

It promotes healthy kidney function and expels uric acid from the body, so it is helpful for gout and rheumatism.  It is useful for all types of skin problems, including blemishes and dry, scaly conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, and as a tea for “hot spots” on animals.

Found in many parts of the world, burdock has a wide range of uses.  In Japan, it is considered a premium vegetable and is often featured in good Japanese restaurants as gobo root.  When it is lightly steamed and sprinkled with toasted sesame seed oil, you’d hardly recognize is as the tenacious backyard weed that it is.  Fresh, young burdock root is delicious steamed and sauteed as a vegetable.  Burdock can be used like carrots in soups, stir-fries, and other dishes.  It makes a nice tea, especially when combined with other more flavorful herbs.  Burdock leaves are used in salves and skin preparations.

Burdock tinctures well in an 80-proof alcohol solution, but don’t be alarmed by the thick white “milk” that may settle in the bottom of your tincture bottle.  This is the inulin content of the burdock.  Because of this inulin content Burdock is an aid to gastrointestinal system, helping normalize bowel movement and stimulate them as necessary.  Burdock root root strengthens the liver and gall bladder and moistens the mucous membranes of the intestines.  Burdock root can be taken in any number of ways for this purpose; it can be eaten raw or cooked, dried and prepared as an infusion, consumed as infused vinegar, or taken as an alcohol tincture in water.

Burdock is an overall aid to the gastrointestinal system, helping normalize bowel movement and stimulate them as necessary.  The root strengthens the liver and gall bladder and moistens the mucous membranes of the intestines.  It can be taken in a number of ways for this purpose; it can be eaten raw or cooked, dried and prepared as an infusion, consumed as infused vinegar, or taken as an alcohol tincture in water.  Burdock provides lymph nourishment; helpful as an antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral agent, and supports kidney and skin health.  Burdock is good for skin, lymph, liver, kidneys, and gall bladder; and strengthens immunity.  It helps with focused concentration, turns worriers into peaceful warriors.

The last autumn root is the most potent for medicinal use.  Summer roots can be used successfully too, but summer is a great time to use the root for food.  Some herbalists recommend the spring roots of a second-year plant as they have been storing nutrients all winter.Burdock is an immune tonic that is also safe for autoimmune conditions, since it isn’t a stimulant but a complex food-like medicine and nourishing tonic.  When you have psoriasis it is an autoimmune challenge; your immune system’s T-cells mistakenly identify your skin cells as “other’ and attack them.  This attack injuries the skin cells, setting off a cascade of responses in your immune system and in your skin and resulting in skin damage (swelling, reddening, and silvery scaling).  After drinking burdock, it may get worse before it gets better.

Burdock helps the body’s filtering systems, including the urinary and digestive systems.  Burdock is a good to add to cancer herbs.  It is an important ally for lessening the side effects of conventional chemotherapeutic treatment. Because burdock is high in inulin it encourages good bacteria in our gut after a course of antibiotics, and mixed with dandelion root helps with healthy levels of blood sugar.

Burdock can be safely used regularly even daily when called for.  It works slowly and surely to restore our health and vitality.

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