Burdock - Arctium lappa

‘Arctium‘, from Latin means bear, referring to the fuzzy feel of Mr. Burdock’s leaves and burrs. Burdock grows a tall stalk the second year with prickly, purple flowers and seed pods or burrs.

So the story goes- in days of old, the burrs were used as a substitute for buttons to close a ragged winter jacket against the cold. The burrs attach themselves to hair and fur, a clever way Mr. Burdock has of transporting his seeds far and wide. Mother Nature is so very clever, isn’t she?

Burdock is native to temperate Europe and Asia. He’s a biennial weed, producing a massive rosette of leaves during the first year, then completing his life cycle by flowering (large, purple thistle-like flowers) and making burdock seeds in the second year. The deep taproot is edible during the first year of growth (See next page for Mushroom, Burdock Soup recipe). Burdock is a vigorous self-seeder.

Listed as an official medicine in early U.S. Pharmacopoeia, Burdock has been used for boils, fevers, inflammations, hepatitis, swollen glands, kidney infections, constipation and respiratory infections. Used as a tincture or tea made from the roots, it will help promote all secretions. Therefore, it’s a good laxative and diuretic. It is also used to treat psoriasis, eczema, oily skin, acne, boils, impetigo, staph infections or obstinate ulceration of the skin or mucous membranes and gout.

Burdock Root has been used for cancerous growths, even back in the Middle Ages. In more recent times it was the main ingredient in the Hoxsey cancer treatment and is also found in the Essiac herbal cancer treatment.

Basically, Burdock root is used for cleansing the blood and for all gouty conditions. It acts to eliminate and neutralize toxins in the liver and blood stream. Used with dandelion, it’s of course, an excellent blood purifier.

Fresh burdock root tea or tincture of dried root is taken internally as a treatment for acne, boils, abscesses, eczema and psoriasis. For the tea you would add 1 teaspoon ground root to 1 cup of cold water. Let stand for 3 hours, then bring to a boil, simmer 15 min., with lid on. Strain and drink 1 cupful throughout the day. For chronic skin problems combine equally with Yellow Dock Root and follow the same instructions.

The seed is used as a stomach tonic and diuretic.

Tea- 1/2 tsp. seed boiled in water, taken 2 to 3 times a day.

Leaves are made into a tea for indigestion. They can also be crushed and applied to bruises, burns, swellings, hemorrhoids and sores to help with healing. To make a Leaf poultice – Soak fresh leaf for 5 minutes in cold water. Apply to burn. Change the leaf when it becomes warm.

And YES! You can also eat this wonderful weed!

Mushroom Burdock Soup

Served hot, this soup will fortify the system against disease or if taken by the patient, will help to strengthen all body systems and accelerate recovery.

6 cups vegetable stock
1-1/4 cups very thinly sliced burdock root and carrots
2 tablespoons sesame or olive oil
6 cups small mushroom caps, sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons kudzu, arrowroot or corn starch
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground anise seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground celery seeds
1/4 – 1/2 black pepper

2 cups cooked and strained black rice

1. Place 5 cups of stock and burdock root in large pot- bring to simmer over medium heat. Reduce to low, simmer covered, for 15 min.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, celery, ginger, and garlic. Cook, stirring for 10 minutes.

3. In small bowl, mix kudzu or corn starch into remaining 1 cup stock with a whisk. Stir this into boiling stock, along with cooked vegetable mixture and remaining ingredients. Bring pot to boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to low, cover, simmer for 10 min. Add Black rice.

Serve hot. Serves 6

Pages 83 – 84: Do It Yourself Weed Medicine