BURDOCK ROOT (Arctium lappa)

Latin: Arctium lappa
Chinese: Niu bang zi

WHAT IT DOES: Burdock root is bitter and slightly pungent in taste, and cooling in action.  It improves digestive, liver and bowel functions, reduces heat and inflammation, and helps detoxify poisons.  It also heals the skin.



• Fresh vegetable: eat freely
• Decoction: l teaspoon of the root simmered in one cup of water for l0-l5 minutes, taken three times per day
• Dried powder: two to six grams per day
• 1:5 Tincture: 20-40 drops three times per day

Burdock root is available as a common vegetable, and it may be eaten freely in this form.  As is common with many bitter herbs, Burdock stimulates digestion, increases bile secretion and reduces inflammation, which may account for its reputation as a liver detoxifier (Lin et al., 1996). 

Burdock contains an abundance of inulin, a compound that feeds the friendly bacteria in the intestine.  It is also mildly anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.  Japanese scientists have shown that Burdock contains desmutagens,a word coined for substances that inactivate mutagens (cancer-causing agents) such as pesticides and toxic compounds that are created in some meats during the cooking process (Morita K et al., 1984).  These findings help explain why Burdock root has traditionally been a first choice in treating frustrating skin conditions like eczema, boils, acne and psoriasis.  Herbalists believe that imbalances or toxins in the bowels carry through to the liver and blood, and if the liver or bowels are slow in getting rid of them, they are eventually “thrown out” to the skin.  TCM doctors also use Burdock root to treat fevers, cough and swollen red throat.