Plant Profile: Burdock Root

Botanical Name:burdock, arctium lappa
Arctium lappa

Family:
Compositae

Common Names:
Burdock

Part Used for Medicine:
Root

Habitat in Which it is Found/ Harvesting Season/ Special Considerations:
In Southwest Colorado, it grows in shade, sometimes  near streams. Although some field guides list burdock in northern Arizona, I have yet to see it. It is widespread in the Midwest and common in other temperate climates around the world.

Also commonly found in Asian grocers where it is known by its Japanese name, Gobo.

Energy & Tastes:
Cooling, nourishing, mild flavor & energy
Wild burdock can be more bitter than the commonly used cultivated root.

Herbal Actions:
Alterative, which means it supports the detox and eliminative functions of the liver, kidneys and lymph systems.

Therapeutic Uses:
Burdock has a gentle effect and is best used long term. Think of it as a nourishing therapeutic food, more so than a medicinal herb.

One of our broadest spectrum alteratives, especially beneficial when there is an excess of heat or dampness in the body. Although the word detox is often both over & misused in the herb community, burdock fits in that category.

The root is high in inulin, a pre-biotic that feeds the good gut bacteria. Other roots in this plant family that are high in inulin are dandelion,  elecampane, chicory and Jerusalem Artichoke. The inulin is highest when harvested in the fall and is water soluble.

High in many minerals and a nourishing addition to many diets.

Herbal Combos:
Use internally with Yellow Dock and Dandelion roots for skin issues, especially acne.
A common addition to many digestive bitters formulas.

Safety Issues & Contraindications:
Very safe, as it is traditionally used as a food. Not energetically appropriate for folks who are cold and dry.

Preferred Method of Preparation:
My favorite way to use fresh burdock root is as a food. To do this, grate it with a cheese grater, then add it to stews and stir fries. The flavor is mild and experience has shown it to be relatively easy to add to a variety of dishes, even for folks who don’t care for ‘health foods’.

I have also made a vinegar relish with fresh grated root simply by adding it to a jar of apple cider vinegar, then adding a spoonful of this combo to a variety of salads or vegetable dishes. The vinegar is a preservative and this will last a few months.

The dried root can be used in a decoction. The prebiotic, inulin, is soluble in hot water. It is not extracted in alcohol. Inulin is an important therapeutic constituent for both blood sugar stabilization and digestive health.

https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=ARLA3

The Plant Profiles are brief materia medica summaries of plants encountered during plant walks or introduced during class on our longer programs. They are presented here to help students organize plant info on an ongoing basis. Although the Profiles are not meant to be comprehensive, they are offered here to the public in the hope that others find these pages useful.

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