Burdock: A Holistic Medicinal Vegetable With Healing Properties

Burdock (Arctium) is a vegetable that’s native to northern Asia and Europe, though it now also grows abundantly in the United States. Burdock root has been used for centuries in holistic medicine to treat a variety of different conditions. Traditionally, it was most commonly used as a diuretic and digestive aid. Now, researchers have discovered numerous potential uses and health benefits for this medicinal herb.

Due to its multiple types of powerful antioxidants, herbalists use it for treating and preventing a variety of health conditions. Burdock root is often used as a diuretic (elevates the rate of urination to remove waste from the blood and body), diaphoretic (sweating to remove toxins from the skin), and blood purifying agent (to destroy bacteria and fungus). 

Burdock root contains polyacetylene, an organic compound that has high electrical conductivity. This is one of the herbs the great herbalist Dr. Sebi used in his compounds because he believed electric foods are what nourish and help keep us healthy. The polyacetylene in burdock root is what is believed to give burdock root its antibacterial and antifungal properties. Herbalists believe that burdock root supports liver and gall bladder function, and the herb is also considered an immune system stimulant.

Burdock root has also been used by many to treat a variety of skin diseases such as abscesses, acne, carbuncles, psoriasis and eczema, through increasing circulation to the skin where the compounds in the root help to detoxify the epidermal tissues. 

Burdock root also contributes to colon health due to the fact that it contains inulin, a carbohydrate that isn’t digested or absorbed in the stomach, but rather passes to the colon where it serves as a prebiotic (food) for the probiotics (beneficial bacteria) in the colon. 

Research from 2010 has shown that burdock root contains multiple types of antioxidants, including quercetin, luteolin, and phenolic acids. Antioxidants protect cells in the body from damage due to free radicals. They can help treat and prevent a number of different health conditions. One 2014 study found that burdock root reduced inflammatory markers in the blood for patients with osteoarthritis.

One of the most common uses for burdock root has been to purify the blood. Recent evidence has found that burdock root can remove toxins from the bloodstream. A 2011 study found that burdock root effectively detoxified blood and promoted increased circulation. Studies also suggest that burdock may inhibit certain types of cancer. This 2011 study found that burdock seeds had “potent inhibitory effects” on the growth of tumors caused by cancers like pancreatic carcinoma.  Another 2016 study found burdock root significantly interfered with cancer cell growth. 

One traditional use of burdock root has also been as an aphrodisiac, and a 2012 study on male rats found that the extract of burdock root did have an aphrodisiac effect. The extract enhanced sexual function and increased the amount of sexual behavior in the male rats

Truly a powerful medicinal herb, burdock root has been used traditionally for many years, and modern research confirms its healing properties. It is a blood purifying, anti-cancer, diuretic, diaphoretic, prebiotic, skin cleansing root, and it hosts a powerhouse of antioxidants. Used by many great herbalists, this is one herb that is truly great to know for a variety of health benefits.