Related to: Artichoke,
Native Habitat: Europe, Asia, and has been naturalized in most regions throughout the United States
Parts Used: Leaves, Roots, Seeds
Growing Conditions: Moist, rich soils with full sun
Burdock has been long used across the globe, from its prolific use as a staple in Asian cuisine, included as a bitter agent in beer prior to the more common use of hops in Europe, to the formulation of a modern soft drink in the UK. This plant, sometimes considered a weed to the untrained eye, is a revered plant with many different uses that span across cultures.
Michael Moore notes burdock as "a widely used blood purifier and alterative, stronger than sarsaparilla but less energetic than echinacea and with little of the intestinal effects of Yellow Dock". - Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West
Burdock works wonderfully for prolonged or chronic skin issues, and is often combined with either dandelion or yellow dock to cleanse the blood. It can be a wonderful ally for anything from acne, to eczema or psoriasis. Additionally it acts as a diuretic (especially the seeds), helping to expel excess water within the body and clarifying the kidneys. All of these actions can help to clear our excessive skin issues while tonifying the liver and kidneys.
Burdock contains high levels of B vitamins (B1, B2, B3) as well as Vitamin C. It also contains iron, manganese, zinc, and silicon, all important nutrients for our bodies. Additionally, the roots produce inulin (not to be confused with the hormone insulin which it helps regulate), a dietary fiber that is very useful for those suffering from improper blood sugar regulation due to things like diabetes, PCOS etc. Inulin helps to improve digestion, increase helpful gut bacteria, and maintain a balance within the gastrointestinal lining. Secondary effects of proper digestion include regular bowel movements and decrease bloating and gas and the ability to absorb nutrients properly. Certain studies have shown various types of inulin to help regulate blood sugar/insulin levels within the body, supporting the body and reducing insulin resistance.
What does it have to do with our lymphatic system? Burdock specifically stimulates lymphatic drainage within the body, cleansing the blood, and strengthening the filtration systems within the body so they adequately move waste out of the body through the proper channels.
What an amazing plant! Easy to grow, prolific, edible in many forms, and can be used both topically and internally! Try it out in stir fry, use as a coffee substitute, shred in salad, or pickle it! The possibilities abound for using this wonderful plant.
Contraindications: Burdock overall is safe, however one should be careful when pregnant, and not use the plant - especially the seeds, within the first two trimesters of pregnancy. In the third trimester it is always best to consult a health practitioner before use.