Materia Medica: Burdock Root



Burdock root is a wonderful detoxifying, nutritive Spring herb.



Latin Binomial: Arctium lappa

Common Name(s): Burdock root, Gobo

TCM Name: niúbàng

Ayurvedic Name: Quora

Family: Asteraceae

Physical Description of the Plant: Burdock is a biennial, growing as a basal rosette in the first year. The lower leaves are large, often a foot long with gray fine short hairs on the underside. The upper leaves are smaller. The second-year plant can grow to several meters tall. The clustered flowers are purple and in capitula (a head of small closely packed florets), covered in hooked bracts that catch on animal fur and clothing. The root can grow as deep as three feet

Habitat:  Burdock thrives along river banks, disturbed habitats, roadsides, vacant lots, and fields. It grows throughout North America except in the southern regions.

Harvest and Collection: Burdock root accumulates toxins and pollutants so should be harvested at least 50 feet from roads and away from roof drip lines, areas where chemicals are sprayed, and well away from industrial areas. For the best, most nutritious roots, harvest first year plants in the fall. First-year plants won't have a seed stalk. Burdock root may also be dug up in the spring of the second year before the seed stalk has come up.

Parts of the Plant Used:  Root harvested just after the first year root has finished growing (biennial).

Qualities:  Consists primarily of carbohydrates, volatile oils, plant sterols, tannins, and fatty oils.

Chemical Constituents:

  • Tannin
  • Arctigenin
  • Arctiin
  • Beta-eudesmol
  • Caffeic acid
  • Chlorogenic acid
  • Inulin
  • Trachelogenin 4
  • Sitosterol-beta-D-glucopyranoside
  • Lappaol
  • Diarctigenin
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins B1, B2, C, K, and A
  • Carotene
  • Polysaccharides (inulin)
  • Flavonoids
  • Lignans
  • Mucilage
  • Pectin

Taste: sweet, slightly bitter.


  • detoxifying
  • nutritive
  • alterative
  • bitter tonic
  • lymphatic
  • diuretic

Indications:  skin and surfaces of the body, intestines.

Contraindications/Cautions:  may cause allergic reactions to those sensitive to Asteraceae plants.

Drug Interactions:  Burdock Root tea may reduce the requirements for insulin, based on its effectiveness for helping to normalize blood sugar levels. Therefore it is recommended that diabetics consult with a health care practitioner.  Burdock also has Vitamin K which is contra-indicated with blood thinners.



  • Decoction: simmer the root for at least 20 min to extract the inulin, then drink with the root still in the cup, 3-4 oz 2-3 times a day.
  • Tincture: 2 - 4 mL of a 1:5 in 40%, three times a day.
  • Cold Infusion: ½ to 1 cup drunk twice a day for two weeks for skin conditions.


Combinations: combined with red root for lymphatic clearing, liver congestion.

Energetics: Neutral to dry, cool.

Folklore: ‘piskies’ or ‘pixies’ a race of fairies or ‘small people’ are said to amuse themselves at night by riding colts furiously around the fields and plaiting their manes, or tangling them with ‘Billy buttons’ [i.e. the burrs] of burdock.

Flower Essence:  Grounded Release –Use Burdock for cleansing and clearing various aspects of consciousness. Physically, Burdock helps to clear out toxic congestion in the brain that can lead to dementia. There can be a greater ability to assimilate new information. The essence seems to rejuvenate the brain, clearing distractions from the thoughts and bestowing the ability to stick to a task. It keeps you firmly grounded in reality, rather than living in fanciful daydreams or floating around in the ether. It is very grounding. Burdock flower essence helps people become centered, focused. . There can be a deep ability to project thoughts that might prove helpful when training or working with animals. Burdock also helps people to have a less bristly and irritated outlook on life. This is a useful essence for releasing all types of anger, grief, sadness, despair and bitterness. It can be used as a support for those addicted to recreational drugs, food or alcohol because it supports patience, kindness and endurance. Burdock also helps people end codependent or dependent relationships and eases many fears associated with these endings. Helps shift old emotional habit patterns. Burdock brings a sense of calm and peace. Burdock brings a powerful wave of clearing and cleansing energy to the etheric body. Burdock flower essence needs to be taken long term for effects on the etheric body.



  • Used as a detoxifying herb
  • Good for detoxifying the skin for conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, and others
  • Improves digestion
  • Increases the movement of the lymph and increases the movement of the blood towards the capillaries



Burdock Brown Rice and Mushrooms


4 large mushrooms of your choice
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium burdock root
Cold, salted water for soaking burdock root
2 cups cold water for cooking rice
1 cup long-grain brown rice
1 grated carrot
1/2 tsp. sea salt


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut mushrooms into small pieces.

Scrub burdock and whittle into slivers – then place them into the cold, salted water. Soak for 5 minutes. Drain and place burdock into a pan with 2 cups water, olive oil, rice, mushrooms, carrots and salt. Bring to a boil while stirring occasionally.

Remove from stove and place into a lightly greased casserole dish – cover and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover, fluff and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Scientific Research

Recent studies show that burdock contains phenolic acids, quercetin and luteolin - all are powerful antioxidants.



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