Burdock is more than just a weed. It is a useful herb with a variety of uses. That’s a good thing since we have tons of it growing around the pastures. If you are not sure if what you have is burdock, Edible Wild Food has a great page to help you.
If you’ve ever walked through a field only to end up picking burs off yourself or your dog, you may think of this plant as an annoying weed. And you’d be right. It annoys the heck out of me when I have to clean burs off the goats and dogs.
But would you be surprised to learn that burdock is actually a useful herb? More than just natural Velcro, it offers several health benefits.
How Burdock Works in the Body
This plant is known as an alterative, meaning it returns a bodily function to its previous state. In the case of burdock, this action is as a blood purifier. It removes toxins from the circulatory, lymphatic, urinary and respiratory systems. Because of this ability, it is useful in treating skin conditions as well as inflammatory illnesses such as arthritis.
This herb is also a diaphoretic, meaning it removes toxins from the body by increasing sweating. This trait also makes it helpful for breaking fevers. Burdock acts as a diuretic as well, flushing toxins from the body by increasing urine output.
Because it is such a powerful detoxifier, it is often used to treat and prevent liver damage based on results of animal studies. It’s also recommended for treating arthritis, acne, psoriasis, eczema, cancer and microbial infections.
Burdock is a good source of chromium, iron, magnesium, silicon, thiamine, and inulin, as well as vitamin C in the fresh roots.
A typical adult dose is one to two grams (in capsule form) up to three times a day. Taken in larger doses, burdock can stimulate the uterus so it should be used cautiously during pregnancy. It can also be enjoyed as a tea or used as a poultice.
Young burdock can also be eaten. Roots can be harvested before the plant flowers. Roots are then washed and sliced to be boiled or sautéed as you would other root vegetables like potatoes or carrots.
You could add it to a mix of root veggies, toss them with olive oil and your choice of seasonings (gotta have garlic!) and roast them in the oven at 375 for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can also add it to stews and stir frys. Some people eat the root raw.
I found a recipe for Burdock Soup, and I am tempted to give it a try this year. I could make it by the truckload with all that we have growing.
Another popular way to enjoy it is in a tea or herbal infusion. Tea from the root is believed to benefit the liver, and also boost the immune system. To make tea, take a fresh, clean root and chop up about 2 tablespoons of it. Put it into a pot with 3 cups of water. Bring it to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and all allow the root to steep for another 20 minutes. Strain and drink.
Anything taken medicinally can have side effect. This is true for medications as well as herbs. If you take diuretics you should avoid taking burdock because it will increase the effect of the medications. It may cause an allergic reaction if you are allergic to ragweed or chrysanthemum. You should also be aware that it can act as a hypoglycemic.
As with many herbs, it may take as long as two weeks before you see results. Be sure to discuss any herbs you take medicinally, with your health care practitioner.
Burdock flowers photo credit: homeredwardprice via photopin cc