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The Beauty of Burdock


Would you believe that a member of the daisy family of all things could be an effective food for inflammation, detoxification, liver health, and even your hair and skin? Read on to discover the benefits of the root that inspired the invention of Velcro (look it up!). [1]


Burdock 101

Burdock, with its wavy heart-shaped leaves and dark roots is used both nutritionally and medicinally. In some areas of Europe and Japan (where it’s known as gobo root), it’s eaten in variety of dishes, from soups and stir-fries to salads and pickled vegetables. Burdock can even be candied with sugar! It is said to have an earthy, sweet taste and crunchy texture comparable to that of lotus root and celeriac. [2] Nutritionally speaking, a serving of burdock root rounds up to having nearly 4 grams of dietary fiber, and is a good source of Vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, manganese, and potassium. [3] Moreover, it contains a bounty of antioxidants, such as phenolic acids, quercetin and luteolin. [4]

What most people may not know about Burdock though is the fact that it’s also a prebiotic. Prebiotics are the fuel for the beneficial bacteria that reside in our gut, and are one of the main incentives for them to stick around and support our health. Burdock root’s prebiotic fiber comes from Inulin, which is also found in foods like asparagus, chicory root, and artichokes. [5]

As for its medicinal use, it can be traced back to early Traditional Chinese Medicine, where it is associated with the lung and stomach meridians and is used for balancing internal heat and treating colds. [6]



Usually, we turn to turmeric, ginger, or boswellia whenever we’re aiming to lower inflammation. However, another all-star amongst the bunch is Burdock root, which has quite a number of studies to back it up. These studies involved the use of Burdock in cases of inflammatory conditions, and came to promising results.

First, in a study involving patients with osteoarthritis, it was shown that consuming three cups of Burdock tea for 42 days helped to lower inflammatory markers (like high sensitivity C-reactive protein). [7]

Next, in Ulcerative Colitis-induced mice, pulverized raw Burdock helped to reduce loose stools (diarrhea) and rectal bleeding, and prevented unwanted weight loss associated with the inflammatory condition. [8] In a second colitis study, researchers traced these benefits down to one of Burdock’s active ingredients known as arctigenin, which helped to reduce, “… the infiltration of immune cells and the production of various inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-a.” [9]

Finally, Burdock root helps to get rid of acute tonsillitis caused by an inflammatory virus that causes tissues within the tonsils to become infected with harmful bacteria. The use of Burdock increases wound healing, relieves coughs, sore throats and pain, and lowers inflammation. [10]



Historically, Burdock has been lauded for its blood-purifying properties, and can be found in a multitude of herbal formulations and tonics. It’s also a top ingredient in Essiac Tea, which is consumed for the treatment of cancer, immune support, and lowering of inflammation. [11]

While these claims have yet to be substantiated by science, there is evidence of its liver-supporting capabilities.

In mice, Burdock helped to protect against liver damage caused by NSAIDs like Tylenol and carbon tetrachloride. [12] A 56-day rat test found Burdock helped to protect the liver against toxic damage from cadmium (a heavy metal). [13]

What we can gather from these two studies is that Burdock helps to “shield” the liver against toxins, rather than get rid of them by itself. That being said, in medical herbalism, it has been stated that Burdock increases circulation, promotes bile flow (improving digestion), acts as a mild diuretic (supporting kidney health and elimination of waste), and supports the Lymphatic system, which plays a key role in cleansing and detoxification. [14]


Hair and Skin

If you’re struggling with issues related to either your skin or hair, keep an eye out for Burdock. Its been used as a topical treatment for eczema, acne, psoriasis, and even burns. [15] Native Americans were said to believe it promoted healthy skin and used in a variety of treatments. [16] In British folk medicine, drinking a concoction consisting of prepared and boiled Burdock helped to promote clear skin. [17] For treating dandruff and dry hair, Burdock may also be an ingredient of use. It also helps to stimulate hair growth and relieve scalp irritations and disorders. [18]

While further research must be done to verify these effects, Burdock root has been shown to regenerate dermal structures in the skin (helping to treat to maturing skin), at least in vitro studies. [19]

Whether it’s supporting a healthy scalp or treating acne, Burdock is a notable ingredient of use. Don’t forget that inflammation is often a factor behind many “beauty” related issues, which Burdock is excellent for addressing.



While Burdock is generally considered safe to consume, there are a few precautions that must be taken prior to its usage. Pregnant women should consult with their practitioner before consuming Burdock, as it could potentially damage the fetus. Those with sensitivities or allergies to ragweed, daisies or chrysanthemums should avoid Burdock. Do not use Burdock if you are taking blood-thinning medications, as it can slow blood clotting and increase the risk of bruising and bleeding. Burdock might lower blood sugar and interfere with medications for diabetes, risking the development of hypoglycemia. Finally, do not consume Burdock if you are dehydrated or are taking diuretic (water) pills. [20]



[5] (
[14] (Bergner P. Immune - Lymphatics and antibiotics. From The Healing Power of Echinacea and Goldenseal 1997 in Medical Herbalism: Journal for the Clinical Practitioner. Accessed at on June 23, 2014.)
[16] Moerman, D.E. 1998. Native American Ethnobotany. Accessed at on June 23, 2014.)
[17] Hatfield, Gabrielle. Encyclopedia of folk medicine: old world and new world traditions. ABC-CLIO, 2004.
[18] Buck,Shannon. 200 Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Natural Beauty. Fair Winds Press, 2014



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