Ancient and Traditional Uses
People have been using the Burdock Root plant for centuries and for different purposes. Known as “arkeion” and “prosopis” in ancient Greece, this herb was prepared as a decoction or medicine to treat hemoptysis, abscesses, snake bites, burns, and internal pains. Dioscorides, first century Greek physician and botanist recommended the use of it as treatment for coughs. The Anglo-Saxon, on the other hand, cultivated Burdock for hemorrhoids. Along with ale, they also used the root as a remedy for “a pock of the eye”, which is assumed to be a sty. Burdock was not only popular in the West. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is best known for its healing properties that treat various illnesses.
Characteristics of the Plant
Arctium Lappa which is also known as Great Burdock, Gobo, Burr burr, Lappa, Bardane, Thorny burr, Begger’s buttons, Niu bang zi, and Snake’s rhubarb is an herbaceous biennial that may grow up to 2 – 6 feet tall. It is native to parts of Scandinavia and the Mediterranean but it has spread to the Middle East, China, Russia, Japan, and the British Isles. This plant has reddish-purple and thistle-like flowers which tend to stick to fur and clothing. It has large leaves and wrinkled brown roots that are both used to make medicinal drugs. Its root, when brewed as tea, is a very nutritious drink that can be enjoyed either hot or cold.
Modern Medicinal Value
Burdock may be considered a common weed, but the healing benefits that one can get from consuming it cannot be underestimated. These include the following:
- It helps lower blood pressure
Diuretics are medications that help the body get rid of too much sodium and water through urine. This helps in reducing fluid in the blood vessels and in lowering the blood pressure. Burdock root is not only a natural diuretic. It is also a source of Potassium, a mineral which helps in lessening the negative effects of salt.
- It can help grow better hair
The human hair symbolizes beauty, physical strength, and immortality. Since it is composed of keratin, which is resistant to decomposition by proteolysis, it is the last to degrade after a person dies. No wonder, people, especially women put so much importance to their hair. Through it, they can express their individuality. Burdock root promotes hair health, growth, and strength, because of Phytosterols, the plant-based ‘sterols’ that can bring a dull hair back to life.
- It can treat cough and cold
In most cases, a cough or cold is not serious. Though at times it can be irritating, it usually goes away on its own. Natural remedies like Burdock root tea which contains vitamin C and anti-bacterial properties can help hasten the recovery process and give relief to those who suffer from it.
- It can help keep the skin young
Most people want to look young forever. Thus, many of them invest in expensive skincare products without realizing that there are natural and cheaper options to help fight the aging process. Burdock root is an ingredient of some beauty creams, because it has quercetin, luteolin, and phenolic acids which fight free radicals, combat the signs of aging, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
- It may benefit patients with cancer
Burdock root does not only boost the immune system and strengthen major organs in the body such as the liver and the kidneys. As previously mentioned, it is a good source of quercetin and luteolin. These antioxidants may help cancer cells from developing, growing, or mutating. Though more studies are needed to support this, a cup of Burdock root tea can help supply the nutritional needs of a cancer patient who is undergoing treatment.
Burdock root tea is not recommended for pregnant women, nursing mothers, patients with diabetes, and people with bleeding disorders, as there may be negative side effects.