Herbs – Burdock (Arctium lappa)

Burdock (Arctium lappa) is a herb that is related to the daisy family, Echinacea, Dandelion, and Feverfew. During ancient times the Greeks used the roots, the seeds, and the greens for healing purposes. Throughout the Middle Ages Burdock was used for both food and medicine.  Burdock is used for such things as easing liver problems and digestive disorders (Mowrey, 1986, p. 57-58) . It was also found to be very effective for skin disorders (Mowrey, 1986, p. 57-58), such as acne, rash, itch, psoriasis, eczema and dry and scaly skin. Throughout Europe, the stalk and the greens are still eaten because they hold such valuable nutrition and vitamin values.

Research has shown that Burdock has anti fungal and anti bacterial properties (Mowrey, 1986, p. 58), and even more importantly it shows signs of being able to fight against tumors and be a cancer fighting agent (Mowrey, 1986, p. 58). Japanese scientists in 1984, discovered burdock contains a new type of desmutagen, that plays a role in depleting mutagens (Morita et al, 1993).

Burdock is also very helpful in strengthening the immune system when it has become weakened by environmental factors. When mixed with other herbs such as Dandelion, Sarsaparilla and Ginger it can be a very powerful blood purifier, so reputable that it can be used with venomous bites.

The most unique fact about Burdock is that it has a very high (up to 50%) amount of inulin (Duke, 1992 & Tierra, 1998), which is a natural occurring chemical within the body that mimics actions of insulin. Due to this, Burdock has been successful in helping combat hypoglycemia (Hartzell, 2001) and pre-diabetes conditions (Mowrey, 1986, p. 58).

Burdock is well recognized as a health food because it has low calorie content and a high fiber intake. It is also loaded with potassium, iron, and calcium, and has aphrodisiac properties (Tierra, 1998).

If you look for Burdock in the market you may find it called gobo. It is often combined with other vegetables or added to Tofu. It looks thick, dark, and woody but indeed the opposite is true when it comes to the taste.

Burdock is highly nutritional and full of vitamins but in retrospect Burdock is also an effective herb for bringing the body back into balance. At the time of writing this, no drug interactions exists with Burdock.


Duke, JA. (1992). Handbook of Phytochemical Constituents of GRAS Herbs and Other Economic Plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Hartzell, V. (2001). Medical Attributes of Arctium sp – Burdock. Wilkes University, PA: Wilkes-Barre.

Morita, T., Ebihara, K., & Kiriyama, S. (1993). Dietary fiber and fat-derivatives prevent mineral oil toxicity in rats by the same mechanism. J. Nutr. 123 (9): 1575-85.

Mowrey, D. (1986). The Scientific Validation o Herbal Medicine. New Cannan, CT:Keats Publishing Inc.

Tierra, M. (1998). The way of the herbs. New York, NY: Pocket Books.

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