Burdock is an herb that was first used in the 14th century by European herbalists to treat leprosy, according to Michael Castleman, author of "The Healing Herbs." In the following centuries, herbalists recommended burdock for a variety of ailments and conditions, including ringworm, gout, syphilis, acne, psoriasis and skin infections 2. Some modern alternative medicine practitioners believe that eating fresh burdock root may provide health benefits.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Using burdock root is not a replacement for conventional medical treatment. Consult your doctor before taking this herb.
According to Castleman, fresh burdock root contains a chemical called polyacetylene that may have antibacterial properties. Burdock root is considered particularly useful for treating skin infections and urinary tract infections. Some medical researchers also believe that the antibacterial properties of polyacetylene may may help alleviate the symptoms of gonorrhea, according to Castleman.
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Polyacetylene may also possess antifungal properties, according to Castleman. Some herbalists believe that fresh burdock root may help people with ringworm, a fungal infection characterized by round, red patches on the skin. Fresh burdock root may also be useful for treating tinea versicolor, a fungal skin infection that typically appears on the shoulders, neck, chest, back and face.
Fresh burdock root may also offer other benefits, according to Dr. James F. Balch, author of "Prescription for Nutritional Healing." Polyacetylene and other chemicals in burdock root may help clear toxins from the blood, and may support liver and gall bladder function 1. This herb is considered an immune system stimulant.
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Burdock root may interfere with the body's ability to absorb iron from foods and supplements, according to Dr. Balch. Also, burdock root is considered a uterine stimulant and should not be used by pregnant women, notes Castleman.
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- "Prescription for Nutritional Healing"; James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis Balch, CNC.; 1997
- "The Healing Herbs"; Michael Castleman; 1991
- Chan YS, Cheng LN, Wu JH, et al. A review of the pharmacological effects of Arctium lappa (burdock). Inflammopharmacology. 2011;19(5):245-54. doi:10.1007/s10787-010-0062-4
- Predes FS, Ruiz AL, Carvalho JE, Foglio MA, Dolder H. Antioxidative and in vitro antiproliferative activity of Arctium lappa root extracts. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11:25. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-25
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Burdock. Updated September 9, 2015.
- Pirvu L, Nicorescu I, Hlevca C, Albu B, Nicorescu V. Burdock (Arctium lappa) Leaf Extracts Increase the In Vitro Antimicrobial Efficacy of Common Antibiotics on Gram-positive and Gram-negative Bacteria. Open Chemistry. 2017:15(1);92–102. doi:10.1515/chem-2017-0012
- Lin SC, Lin CH, Lin CC, et al. Hepatoprotective effects of Arctium lappa Linne on liver injuries induced by chronic ethanol consumption and potentiated by carbon tetrachloride. J Biomed Sci. 2002;9(5):401-9. doi:10.1007/BF02256533
- Maghsoumi-norouzabad L, Alipoor B, Abed R, Eftekhar sadat B, Mesgari-abbasi M, Asghari jafarabadi M. Effects of Arctium lappa L. (Burdock) root tea on inflammatory status and oxidative stress in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Int J Rheum Dis. 2016;19(3):255-61. doi:10.1111/1756-185X.12477
- Knott A, Reuschlein K, Mielke H, et al. Natural Arctium lappa fruit extract improves the clinical signs of aging skin. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2008;7(4):281-9. doi:10.1111/j.1473-2165.2008.00407.x
- Wang D, Bădărau AS, Swamy MK, et al. Arctium Species Secondary Metabolites Chemodiversity and Bioactivities. Front Plant Sci. 2019;10:834. doi:10.3389/fpls.2019.00834
- Ionescu D, Predan G, et al. Antimicrobial Activity of Some Hydroalcoholic Extracts of Artichoke (Cynara Scolymus), Burdock (Articum Lappa), and Dandelion. Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Braşov. 2013;6(2):55.
- Knott A, Reuschlein K, et al. Natural Arctium lappa fruit extract improves the clinical signs of aging skin. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2008;7(4):281-9.
- Lin SC, Lin CH, et al. Hepatoprotective effects of Arctium lappa Linne on liver injuries induced by chronic ethanol consumption and potentiated by carbon tetrachloride. J Biomed Sci. 2002;9(5):401-9.
- Maghsoumi-Norouzabad L, Alipoor B, et al. Effects of Arctium lappa L. (Burdock) root tea on inflammatory status and oxidative stress in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Int J Rheum Dis. 2016;19(3):255-61.
- Predes FS, Ruiz AL, et al. Antioxidative and in vitro antiproliferative activity of Arctium lappa root extracts. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11:25.
- Burdock. Memorial Sloan Kettering Integrative Medicine About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/burdock
- Burdock. Michigan Medicine. University of Michigan https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2057006#hn-2057006-uses
- Burdock. Penn State Hershey. Milton Hershey Medical Center. http://pennstatehershey.adam.com/content.aspx?productId=107&pid=33&gid=000227
- Burdock. Therapeutic Research Center. Natural Medicines Database. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=111
Owen Pearson is a freelance writer who began writing professionally in 2001, focusing on nutritional and health topics. After selling abstract art online for five years, Pearson published a nonfiction book detailing the process of building a successful online art business. Pearson obtained a bachelor's degree in art from the University of Rio Grande in 1997.