A.K.A Gobo Root
Common Names: Beggar’s Buttons, Hardock, Burrseed, Hurrburr, Hare-burr, Cocklebur, Lappa, Gobo (Japanese), Bardane (French), Klette (German), Bardana (Spanish), Lopan (Polish)
Botanical Name: Arctium lappa
Plant Family: Asteraceae
Parts Used: Root, Leaf & Seeds
Actions: Mucilaginous, Alterative, Diuretic, Diaphoretic, Urinary Tonic, Demulcent, Bitter, Laxative, Vulnerary
Habitat: Burdock is one of the many farm/garden weeds. It’s large appearance and burr seeds give the herb a bad reputation to a more pampered landscape. Oddly enough, those who try to remove this plant can never fully get rid of it… for its long (and sometimes quite large) taproot grows in rocky soils which makes it almost impossible to completely remove.
Collection: The root is harvested in the fall of the first year… it is also the sweetest and tender to eat at this time. The leaves are best harvested in the Spring and Summer of the first year (before the plant goes dormant and begins its flowering stage during the second year). The seeds are harvested when ripe in the second year of growth.
Identification: A large leafed plant with burrs that grow in the fall and stick to you like Velcro. Burdock is biennial, meaning it takes two years to complete its life cycle. The root is harvested for medicine in the fall of the first year. During the first year, Burdock only grows leaves and there are no flowers or burrs. The root grows deep into the earth and prefers hard rocky soils, which can make it a challenge to dig up.
Liver, Spleen & Urinary Support:
Burdock is an alterative. It helps systems of elimination and detoxification. Most noticeably, burdock helps elimination with the skin, yet it is also an aid for the urinary system and the liver.
Burdock root (high in inulin) is said to regenerate the liver cells and stimulate the gallbladder. The root and seeds are also used to “move blood” or “purify the blood” by aiding the spleen. Burdock seeds have a stronger diuretic effect. They are also said to be diaphoretics (help induce sweating). The diuretic effects help both the kidneys and urinary tract and has been known to help move stones and relieve any painful urination.
Promotes Healthy Skin:
Herbalist Jim Mcdonald explains that even though Burdock is an alterative (meaning it is cooling and drying) it can help rehydrate dry and scaly skin. Why? Burdock root and seeds alter the health of the sebaceous gland (these glands are located in the skin and secrete sebum), which in return excrete a lubricating oily substance. Sebum is an antimicrobial that helps lubricate both the skin and hair.
Burdock can address a wide range of skin conditions, including dry/scaly skin, rashes, oily skin, acne, eczema, psoriasis, etc.
Moves Stagnant Lymph:
Burdock is a lymphatic herb. Meaning it binds and removes heavy metals, chemicals and waste via the lymphatic system. It helps against sore throats and swollen lymph glands.
Burdock root is a super food; jammed-pack with essential nutrients. It helps strengthen the immune system, starting with the gut. Burdock root is even referred to as a prebiotic; it aids in digestion while feeding your gut flora. The root has been cited to have a total of 45-50% inulin. Inulin is a starchy carbohydrate that provides nutrients to the gut flora yet cannot be digested by humans.
Burdock Root Pickles
This recipe is from one of my herbal mentors, Eagle Song E. Gardener. Of course, it is the most rewarding after a day spent digging out as much of the root (staying intact!) with your bare hands :)
Several roots of burdock
1/3-part tamari (or soy sauce)
Slice the clean burdock root into bite size pieces. Simmer sliced root in just enough water to cover the pan but not drown the root. It’s done when root has softened, but is still crisp. Remove from heat (re-use cooked water in another recipe). Fill mason jar with root and add garlic and ginger. Next, fill jar with 1/3 tamari, 1/3 vinegar, and 1/3 water. Stone in fridge and begin to eat a couple weeks later!