Burdock (Arctium Lappa)

Plants can survive without humans,

But humans cannot survive 

Without plants.

Burdock (Arctium Lappa)

Native to North Asia and Europe, Burdock grows wild in the United States as a "weed". Commonly found on the side of roads and in wastelands, Burdock root has been a part of traditional medicine, particularly traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Native Americans also used Burdock root as a medicinal plant to cleanse the body and spirit. 

Burdock root is a multi-purpose herb with many useful benefits to help ward off a host of serious health issues. It is one of those rare herbs that stimulates lymphatic drainage and detoxification, and being diuretic and diaphoretic it also helps to remove waste from the blood and body.  

Another way that Burdock roots helps to remove toxins is thru digestion, it contains Inulin (a soluble & prebiotic fibre) that acts as a food for healthy gut bacteria which helps regulate inflammation and remove toxins from the body.

Burdock root also contains Mucilage which acts as a protectant for the gastric mucosa (the mucous membrane layer of the stomach), helping it to heal if it has been damaged by acidity or inflammation.

Powerful antioxidants such as Quercetin, Luteolin, and Phenolic Acids in Burdock root help to protect the liver against poisonous substances by stimulating bile production, helping the liver to flush away toxins. High antioxidant concentrations help to lower inflammation, including joint issues. Some people consume it as a root vegetable, much like potatoes. 

The discovery of Burdock root containing the plant chemicals Polyacetylenes that have anti-fungal and antibiotic properties is especially useful in treating acne and helping fight off bacteria that causes acne (such as Streptococcus). 

Burdock root acts on the blood and circulatory system and contains active compounds such as Arctiin & Lignans that have matrix-stimulating properties promoting a more supple and younger looking skin.

Common Names:  Burdock, Cocklebur

Latin Name: Arctium Lappa

Family: Asteraceae

Parts Used: Root

Plant Type:

A large "weed" covered in spurs that can grow over 4 ft tall. Large heart-shaped rhubarb like leaves & thistle-like pale purple flowers .

Fun Fact:

Burdock burr was the inspiration for Velcro! 

In 1941 a Swiss engineer, Gearges de Mestral went for a walk in the woods and wondered  if the burrs that clung to his trousers could be made into something useful.

Velcro was patented in 1955!

Properties:  Antibacterial, antibiotic, diuretic, diaphorectic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, 

Constituents: Vitamins A, B complex, & E. Phytochemicals: Chlorogenic Acid, Taraxosterol, Arctigen, Mucilage, Resin, Arctigenin, Arctic Acid, volatile oils & acids, non-hydroxy acids and Sucrose. The root contains up to 50% Inulin (Fructosan).

Medicinal Uses:  Acts as a natural detoxifier. Contains powerful antioxidants.

Stimulates the Lymphatic system, Kidneys, Bile production, Blood and Circulatory systems and has powerful antioxidant properties.

Foraging: Collect roots in the fall.

Flavor: Bitter, earthy, sweet flavor.

Preparation Methods: Dried roots are used in teas (decoctions) or milled into a powder to add to formulas, tinctured or encapsulated.

Typical Dosage: 

Burdock root powder 1-2 grams, 3 times a day. 

Burdock root tincture take 2-3 ml, 2-3 times a day

Suggestions for Preparation

     Tea (Decoction): 

Boil 1 teaspoon of dried or fresh roots in 1 cup of boiling water, let steep for 15 to 20 minutes. Drink two to three cups a day. 

If you find your tea too bitter, steep for less time.


Fill jar 2/3 to 3/4 full with dried or fresh roots & cover with 90 proof grain alcohol to the very top of the jar ( Cover plants completely).

Store your tincture in a cool, dark, dry place. Shake several times a week, and check your alcohol levels. Allow the mixture to extract for 6 to 8 weeks.

Safety & Contraindications:

Not recommended for: women who are pregnant, want to become pregnant, or who are breast-feeding, children under 18, and people taking diuretics, diabetes medication, or blood thinners.  

Avoid if you have an allergy or sensitivity to plants in the chrysanthemums, sunflower or daisy family. 

People with chronic or life-threatening health conditions should ask their doctor before using burdock root.

Burdock Plant Identification

Burdock is known for it's annoying burrs that stick to animal fur and clothing. This plant grows to a height of 1 to 2 meters therefore having deep roots (1 to 2 ft long) which are brownish green, or nearly black on the outside. Burdock's leaves are basal rosettes that stays close to the ground the first year and the beginning of the second year, and can grow up to 1 meter wide.

Burdock has purple disc florets (1 to 3 cm across) surrounded by several rows of overlapping hooked bracks that blooms between June and October. This plant has large, wavy, heart-shaped leaves that are green on the top and whitish on the bottom which makes for easier identification. Leaves can grow to 50 centimeters in size.

Belladonna (Atropa belladonna)

I've read several articles that suggests to order Burdock root from a reputable distributor instead of harvesting it yourself, unless of course you are a seasoned wildcrafter. Reason being is because the highly toxic plant Belladonna (Atropa belladonna) generally grows in the same vicinity as Burdock and the fact that both roots closely resemble each other, a simple misidentification could prove to be deadly.

Burdock Look Alikes

The 2 pictures above show the difference in the leaves of Burdock, Foxglove, Primrose and Dock plants.

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea

Foxglove Leaves

Foxglove Blooms

To distinguish the Foxglove plant from the Burdock plant first look at the shape of the leaves on the plant (refer to pictures above). Foxgloves have gray-green leaves 4 to 12 inches wide (Burdock leaves are 1 to 2 ft wide and are brownish green, or nearly black) with noticeable vein structure. Because the foxglove produces a large stalk with the flowers located at the top of the plant, the leaves are found towards the base of the plant. Foxgloves produce only leaves during their first year, which makes them difficult to identify until they bloom in their second year.

All parts of the Foxglove -- the source for the drug Digitalin -- are toxic. Keep them away from children and pets. In some cases, ingesting the plant has been fatal.

Primrose (Primula vulgaris)

Primrose Plant

The Primrose plant has a basal rosette of leaves which are evergreen. The leaves are 5–25 cm long and 2–6 cm broad, often heavily wrinkled, with an irregularly crenate to dentate margin. The leaf blade is gradually attenuated towards the base and unevenly toothed.

Unlike Foxglove which is highly toxic, Both flowers and leaves of the Primrose plant are edible.

Dock (Rumex acetus)

Dock Leaves

The Dock plant is easily recognizable by its very large oval leaves with cordate bases and rounded tips, some of the lower leaves having red stems. The edges of the leaves are slightly "crisped" or wavy, the upper surface is hairless and the under surface may be papillose. The leaves of this plant can grow to about 1 ft in length and 15 centimetres (5.9 in) wide.

Leaves of the plant can be used as salad, to prepare a vegetable broth or to be cooked like spinach. They contain oxalic acid which can be hazardous if consumed in large quantities.