nourishing, toning, cleansing
slow, steady, takes time.
Burdock is quite useful. His roots, also known as Gobo, are used as a vegetable. Is it any wonder since he contains Calcium, chromium, cobalt, inulin, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, protein, selenium, silicon, vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), and zinc?
Vitamin C can be found in fresh roots. Eaten or taken long term, he makes an extremely nourishing tonic. Burdock’s roots contain 45% inulin polysaccharides, a huge component to his healing actions. Inulin is considered a prebiotic, offering good gut bacteria food to feed on.
All About Burdock
As I mentioned, the roots are eaten like carrots or parsnips. They can be roasted, sautéed, or steamed.
They can also be dried and roasted to make a rich, bitter decoction, similar to coffee. I like to mix the roasted roots with roasted Dandelion and Chicory roots and add in chai herbs such as cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, cardamom, fennel, and bay laurel.
The petioles of the leaves and the flower stalks can be eaten as well. Simply scrape of the downy hairs and add them to soups, stir fries, or casseroles.
The seeds can be sprouted and eaten on sandwiches and salads.
Medicinally, Burdock has a lot to offer as well!
Burdock is best known as his use as a blood purifier or alterative although he has other uses as well. He is a diuretic, diaphoretic, and demulcent. What can we say about burdock just from learning this? Well, his demulcent actions tell us that he is a protective herb and his tendency to clean the blood, the kidneys and bladder and other impurities of the body through sweating tells us he really likes to clean house, especially where deep cleaning is required!
Bur Oil is a well known and used oil in Europe made from an infusion of the roots in oil. Bur oil is used mainly on hair to lessen thinning hair, improve growth, strength and luster and to also give relief from dandruff and an itchy, irritated scalp.
Because of his strong actions on the liver, Burdock helps with skin eruptions such as psoriasis, eczema and acne. Infusions internally and oils or tinctures externally will help heal the cause of these irritations. They must be taken several times daily for at least 3 weeks before seeing any improvement and sometimes longer but it is worth the time for the results.
Because of his affinity to the kidney, liver and gallbladder, Burdock can also be used for stimulating bile production.
Burdock is known as a nutritive and rejuvenative. He is often given to those who are ill. The root is easy to digest for the body, helping it to recover from a debilitating illness by providing deep rooted nourishment.
If you are using Burdock root, don’t expect quick results as he is slow acting and takes his time doing his magic. It can take 1 – 3 years of daily use to see results. But, he is well worth the wait! Taken over time, his alterative and adaptogenic actions help to restore the body to health.
While the roots are better for working with chronic illnesses, the seeds are more suited for acute conditions.
Burdock seed has an affinity for the kidneys. His diuretic actions are helpful for problems with dropsy, cystitis, urinary tract inflammations, weak and irritated bladders, kidney and urethral irritations and he removes uric acid as well!
When used daily, an oil made from the seeds and/or roots can strengthen and nourish hair follicles. Massage a few drops into the scalp to help clear up dandruff as well. Be sure to take burdock root internally so he can work on your scalps irritations through the liver.
The leaves have often been left out in herbals but they provide some amazing healing actions as well. The Amish use Burdock’s leaves to treat burns with great success, especially for 2nd and 3rd degree burns. I have had several success stories of using Burdock leaf and always keep some on hand year round for burns.
The leaves help to relieve pain while encouraging healing and preventing infection. As an anti-inflammatory, the same technique of applying Burdock leaves can be used on sprains and strains and other inflammation in the body.
The leaves also contain mild antibacterial actions. This means he is good for killing germs which is helpful when treating burns and other external wounds.
The roots should be harvested between the first and second year of growth. You can harvest them in the fall of the first year, or in the spring of the second year, before they put up a stalk. After the stalk starts to appear, the root becomes woody and full of holes and is no longer valuable for medicine as the plant is putting all his energy into growing his stalk and flowers.
The leaves can be harvested and dried for use throughout the year in poultices and teas. You can harvest from first or second year plants. When harvesting the leaves for drying, cut out the central vein so that the leaves dry evenly.
The seeds are harvested after the seed heads turn brown. The heads contain fine fiberglass-like hairs that can irritate your skin, eyes, and lungs so you must be careful when you are removing the seeds from the flower heads. Once you have the seeds separated, store them in a jar in the freezer until you are ready to use them.
Burdock roots and seeds can be tinctured, infused in oil, or decocted to use as medicine. I like to make them separately.
The roots can also be added to vinegars.
The leaves are generally just dried and used on burns by blanching in boiling water, cooling, then wrapping around the burn.
Fun Burdock Related Videos and Resources
Want to learn to make roasted roots with your kids? Check out my new Monday Making series. This week’s episode is on making Burdock roasted roots! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwi_8ZMKD2s
Want to listen to “Burdock Gets Noticed”? This story is from the Burdock issue of Herbal Roots zine and it can be found on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDrIwLk-MAk
Roasted Burdock Root Chai
A perennial favorite in our home! Chai is a Middle Eastern word that means “tea” but here in America we’ve adapted the term to mean a very spicy tea made with milk and sweetener.
1 cup Roasted Burdock Root
6 Tbsp Fennel or Anise seed
1 tablespoon green Cardamom pods
1 tablespoon Cloves
6 Cinnamon sticks crushed
2 Tbsp dried Ginger root
1 1 /2 tsp black Peppercorns
12 Bay leaves broken into pieces
Optional: Honey and milk
Mix the ingredients together in a quart jar, shaking and stirring until well mixed.
To make the chai:
Add 1 tbsp mixture per cup of water, simmer for 5 minutes then steep for 10 minutes.
Add 1 Tbsp honey or dandelion syrup (see later in section for recipe) per cup. Add 2 Tbsp milk or cream per cup and stir.
Want to learn MORE about Burdock? Check out our eBook on this soothing plant!