Latin Name: Arctium lappa
Family Name: Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)
Parts Used: Roots (First year). The seeds are used in Chinese Medicine
Properties: Nutritive, alterative, diuretic, diaphoretic, antimicrobial, antitumoral, tonic
Taste/Energy: Sweet, bitter, moistening, cooling
Affinity: Liver, Kidneys, Digestive system
One of my favorite herbs and one that has many uses. Arctium means bear and lappa means clasping…so you can call this friend clasping bear. Its burrs do indeed love to clasp to you. Burdock is a biennial- meaning that it lives for two years. Make sure only to dig up and use first year burdock. It likes rocky, hard packed soil so its pretty hard to dig up.
It is primarily known in the West as an alterative, or “blood purifier”. Alterative is a fancy word meaning an herb that helps the body to absorb and excrete waste to improve metabolism and organ functioning. As an alterative, burdock is known to help strengthen the liver and kidneys, effectively cooling the body from inflammatory conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and skin ailments.
Burdock is incredibly nourishing and contains a number of key nutrients including folic acid, riboflavin, vitamin E, vitamin C as well as iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc, calcium and phospporus. For this reason, I think of Burdock as primarily nourishing and nutritive. It truly strengthens a person at their root while clearing out waste that is unneeded.
Along with red clover, burdock has long been used in formulas for cancer. Both the famous Hoxsey and essiac formulas contain burdock as a principle ingredient. One of Burdock’s key constituents is inulin. Inulin appears to be quite helpful for strengthening the immune system via interaction with lymphoid tissues in the gut. It appears that inulin acts as a type of “prebiotic”, encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria and acting as a antimicrobial towards pathogenic bacteria.
Mental Health: I think of burdock as especially helpful for those who appear too hot, flushed, at times angry or even slightly manic. They may appear somewhat stagnant, depressed, frustrated, somewhat anxious with restless thoughts. Often times their is a dietary component that needs to be examined- too much hot spicy, stimulating food and drink.
Burdock is often also helpful for the person who has used up too much of their “juice”, or what the Chinese call jing- or underlying essence. They have been burning too hot, like throwing too many logs on the fire. There is a burnt or crispy quality to people who need this herb. Burdock will clean out the toxic ash left behind from the excessively hot fire and will restore vitality and a calmer more relaxed disposition if taken over a period of time.
I think of burdock as primarily a nutritive tonic as well as an alterative. For this reason I think it can be taken for longer periods than some of the more bitter and “intense” alteratives such as yellow dock. I also think that one gets far more nutritive value from burdock by taking it in tea form than taking it in tincture or capsule form. It really is a quite pleasant tasting tea- not that bitter at all.
On a deeper level, Burdock is a powerhouse for getting to the source and root of frustration and helping people move through deep and profound emotional obstacles. There may be very old patterns of “holding and hiding” that keeps people from effectively growing. These folks may feel essentially fearful or unsafe and have been protecting themselves by overeating and overindulging. The extra weight, or a habit of drinking or taking drugs becomes protective and armor that holds these folks back from feeling at peace. Burdock is very tough indeed and its roots can move through rocky hard to reach places. As a medicine, these roots can dig into those hard to reach places of our heart and metaphorically move those rocky hard places aside, allow movement, breath and energy to flow.
Contraindications: Avoid during pregnancy. Avoid taking with anticoagulants.
To Take: As a tea, try taking two heaping tablespoons of the herb to a pint and a half of water. Boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes. Then decant, you should be left with a little less than a pint of tea. Try drinking it twice a day as a “simple” (That means just taking the herb by itself.)
As a tincture- Take two droppers full two times a day.
As a powder: Take 1-2 grams three times a day.
You can also find me at the Facebook group Herbs for Mental Health.Share This: