BURDOCK LEAF

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Herbal Monograph

Herb: BURDOCK LEAF (Arctium lappa; Compositae)

Other Names:    beggar’s buttons, cockle buttons, fox’s clote, great burr, happy major, lappa, love leaves, personata, philanthropium, thorny burr.    (2)

Bardana, burr seed, clotbur, cocklebur, grass burdock, hardock, hareburr, hurrburr, turkey burrseed   (13)  

Lappa, Hill, Thorny Burr, Beggars’ Buttons.    (57)

Character/Energetics: cool, drying, bitter   (15)

 Meridians/Organs/Body Parts affected: blood, kidneys, liver  (14)

Parts  used:    leaves   (1)

Identification & Harvesting:    Plant grows to a height of 30-60 in.  Stem is erect, rigid, grooved, branched and downy to wooly.  Leaves are alternate, petiolate, broad to ovate-cordate.  They are blunt and slightly wooly to hairy on the underside.  Lowest leaves are very large and have a latex-filled stem.  Crimson flowers grow in long-stemmed, loose cymes.  Heads are fairly large, globose and almost glossy.  Flowers are funnel-shaped.  The fruit is compressed and has a bristly tuft, which falls off easily.  Grows in Europe, north Asia and North America.    (2)

Burdock is a biennial plant found in the northern U.S. and in Europe, along fences, walls, and roadsides, in waste places, and around populated areas….

The purple flowers appear in loose corymbose clusters from July to September.  (13) 

Harvest before or during early flowering  (15)

The root is usually cut up in to pieces an inch or more long and about 3/4 in. in thickness, brownish grey externally, shrunken and furrowed longitudinally, and whitish internally.  The fracture is short and the transverse surface shows a thick bark about a quarter of the diameter of the root, and a central cylinder with a radiate structure, sometimes with cavities containing white remains of tissue.  Tastes sweet and mucilaginous.  Seeds (really the fruit) are brownish grey, wrinkled, about 1/4 in. long and 1/16 in. in diameter.  Leaves are large, rhubarb-like in shape, whitish beneath.  Flowerheads are globular, with hooked scale-like bracts.    (57)

Active constituents: glycosides, flavonoids, tannins, volatile oil, polyacetylenes, resin, mucilage, inulin, alkaloids, essential oil   (15)

Actions:   tonic   (14);   mild laxative, diuretic  (15)

In animal studies, lowers blood sugar and increases carbohydrate tolerance.    (61)

Alterative, diuretic, diaphoretic.  One of the finest blood purifiers in the herbal system, and should be used in all such cases alone or in conjunction with other remedies.    (57)

Conditions and Uses:  (Burdock) leaves…contain a substance that stimulates the secretion of bile. If they are to be used for liver problems, use only the fresh leaves. (13) 

Generally less effective than the root, the large leaves can be used in similar ways. They are particularly good for stomach problems including indigestion and general digestive weakness. 

For eczema— Cleansing, diuretic, and laxative; good for any toxic skin condition, especially scaling eczema/take a decoction or up to 4 ml tincture 3x daily/can combine with other cleansing herbs such as yellow dock, figwort, cleavers, heartsease, and red clover. Add flowers and leaves to the decoction for 1-2 minutes only.  (15)

Although not as potent as the root, traditionally used as a blood purifier to treat eczema, psoriasis, hives;  to disperse kidney stones and treat liver conditions.  Used externally on slow healing wounds.    (61)

Combinations: For eczema– can combine with other cleansing herbs such as yellow dock, figwort, cleavers, heartsease, and red clover. See “dosage and applications”  (15)

One of the finest blood purifiers in the herbal system, and should be used in all such cases alone or in conjunction with other remedies.    (57)

Tincturing Process:   Food processor: Slice leaves in 1/4”-1/2” sections, then process 60-75 seconds. Tincture 400-450 grams per 1-qt mason jar.   (1)

Dosage & Applications: 

Burdock leaf tea is widely regarded as a folk treatment for skin diseases.  (1a)

A decoction of leaves also makes a good wash for sores and may be helpful for acne. The fresh, bruised leaves are sometimes used as a remedy for poison oak or poison ivy.  (13)

Infusion: 1 cup 3-4x daily  (14)

Infusion: Use for indigestion (take in half-cup doses before meals) and as a mild digestive     stimulant.  

Poultice: Apply to bruises and skin inflammations, including acne.

Infused Oil:  Make by the hot infusion method (see p. 122); use for varicose ulcers.  

For eczema— Cleansing, diuretic, and laxative; good for any toxic skin condition, especially scaling eczema/take a decoction or up to 4 ml tincture 3x daily/can combine with other cleansing herbs such as yellow dock, figwort, cleavers, heartsease, and red clover. Add flowers and leaves to the decoction for 1-2 minutes only.  (15)

Both root and seed may be taken as a decoction of 1 oz. in 1-1/2 pint of water, boiled down to a pint, in 4 oz. doses 3 or 4 times daily.    (57)

Up to 3 g. capsules daily, or steep 1 tsp in a cup of hot water for 10-15 min, up to 3 x daily.  Tincture 1:5, 50% alcohol, 10-25 drops 3 x daily.    (61)

Precautions:    No reported side effects.    (61)

Divination:  Four of Cups

        Divinatory Meanings: Need for some intervention in daily life, without the knowledge of where it will come from. Uncertainty as to what action to take. Strengthen and purify both within and without, and wait with watchful awareness: help is at hand!

        Reverse Meanings: The delusion of dualism. A partnership in which both individuals may need a new direction or are mistaken about a certain issue.  (52) r   (48)    

General Notes:    Little modern research has been conducted.  While studies corroborate traditional use, human studies haven’t been conducted.  Not approved for use in Germany because of this lack of substantiation.    (61)

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References:

(1) Joniris Herbals Research Data, “Burdock Leaf tincture” file 

(1a) Joniris Herbals Research Data, “Burdock” file (Herbs For Health, Nov/Dec 1996, pg. 68)

(2)  PDR for Herbal Medicines (Medical Economics Co., 1998), pgs. 656-57

(13) The Herb Book by John Lust, pgs. 140-141

(14) Natural Healing With Herbs by Humbart Santillo BS, MH, pgs. 95-96

(15) The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody, pgs. 38

(57) Potter’s Cyclopaedia by R.C. Wren, F.L.S., p. 56

(61) 101 Medicinal Herbs by Steven Foster, pgs. 42-43