Herbal Information Sheet: Burdock Root


(Arctium lappa)


Excerpted from:

The Earthwise Herbal, A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants

By Matthew Wood

 “Burdock Root is bitter, sweet, and oily, and therefore well suited to dry/atrophic conditions where there is a need to increase secretions, tissue feeding, and tissue cleansing.  The bitters stimulate secretion in the digestive tract.  The oils increase secretion of bile, promoting better absorption of fats and oils through the small intestine, better activity of the gallbladder, and increased processing of oils by the liver.  Burdock Root is called for when there is poor secretion of bile, indicated by dry stool and constipation and poor emulsification of fats and oils.  With low absorption of lipids there is a shortage of these substances around the body.  Burdock Root is thus associated with dry, scaly skin conditions and dry skin in general.  Sometimes the sebaceous glands get blocked, due to a lack of oil moving through them, resulting in inflammation – hence the association of Burdock Root with acne and boils.  The sinuses and lungs are also dry and the secretion through the kidneys is limited.

 “The liver is also affected by Burdock Root.  With a lack of fats and oils, there is reduced anabolism of lipids for the body to use, with wasting and dryness.  In order to get nutrition there may be dependence on “quick fixes” of sugar.  Thus, it is a remedy for sugar imbalances.  Because steroid and sex hormones are made from oil and require oil for transmission through the body, and all hormones of any kind require adequate fluids for movement, Burdock Root comes up as something of an endocrine and female remedy.

 “Burdock Root has a powerful action on the skin.  This is attributed to its influence on the liver and blood. 

 “Burdock, with its brown, fur-like burs, could be classified in American Indian medicine as a “bear medicine.”  The oily bear medicines usually stimulate the gallbladder, liver, thyroid, and adrenocortical functions, encouraging the digestion and metabolism of fats and proteins.  The metabolism of the bear, which swings greatly from winter hibernation to summer feeding, is dependent on these organs for storage and utilization of fats and proteins.

“Burdock Root helps to restore the primal blueprint of health when it has been lost in persons suffering from long, chronic illness.


SPECIFIC INDICATIONS:  Dry scalp with red, scaly patches and hair loss; constipation; poor glandular function:  lymphatics, pancreas, endocrine, prostate, liver, spleen; blood sugar lability; pregnancy:  balancing and nutritive during; leaches out concretions, kidney stones, arthritis; edema; arthritis, bursitis:  better from movement, worse when immobilized; sciatica; gouty pain; carpal tunnel syndrome; dry or oily skin, acne, single large pimples that are not coming to a head, eczema, dandruff; boils, abscesses, carbuncles, poison ivy, rashes, itching, measles, psoriasis.

 “Cautions:  May cause allergic reactions in a few people allergic to asteraceae plants.  Has caused skin outbreaks in some people; perhaps a cleansing effect.”


Excerpted from:

The Herbal Handbook, A User’s Guide to Medical Herbalism

By David Hoffmann

 “Burdock Root is one of the best known remedies for the treatment of skin conditions which result in dry and scaly skin.  It can be effective for the alleviation of psoriasis if used over a long period of time.  Similarly, all types of eczema (though primarily the dry kinds) may be treated effectively if it is used over a period of time.  As part of a broad treatment, it will be useful for rheumatic complaints, especially where they are associated with psoriasis.  Part of the action of this herb is through the bitter stimulation of the digestive juices and especially of bile secretion.  This will aid in digestion and appetite.  It has been used in anorexia nervosa and similar conditions.  In general, Burdock Root will move the body to a state of integration and health, removing such indicators of systemic imbalance as skin problems and dandruff.  Externally it makes a good compress or poultice to speed up the healing of wounds and ulcers.  Eczema and psoriasis may also be treated this way externally, but it must be remembered that such skin problems can only be healed from within and with the aid of internal remedies.”   



Burdock Root cut

Burdock Root and Seed liquid extract


Linda Hall

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