Part Used: Dried first-year root & mature seed
Brudock (Arctium lappa) is a substantial biennial plant reaching up to 2m in height, with very large ovate-cordate leaves up to 50cm across forming a rosette at ground level, with smaller versions growing up the thick flowering stem. The dried root from plants of the first year's growth forms the official drug, but the leaves and fruits (commonly, though erroneously, called seeds) are also used. Burdock root has a sweetish and mucilaginous taste. The seeds (or fruits) are collected when ripe. The active constituents of Brudock are inulin, mucilage, sugar, a bitter, crystalline glucoside - Lappin-a little resin, fixed and volatile oils, and some tannic acid. Root has depurative, mild laxative, mild diuretic, bitter, diaphoretic, antirheumatic, antibiotic, and orexigenic. Similarly, seeds prevent fever and have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, reduce blood sugar levels, relaxant, demulcent, and tonic properties.
Burdock has historically been used to treat a wide variety of ailments, including arthritis, diabetes, and hair loss. Itís fruit has been found to lower blood sugar in animals, and early human studies have examined Burdock root in diabetes. Laboratory and animal studies have explored the use of Burdock for bacterial infections, cancer, HIV, and kidney stones. However, there is currently insufficient human evidence regarding the efficacy of Burdock for any indication. The root of Burdock is principally employed, but the leaves and seeds are equally valuable. The anti-scorbutic properties of the root make the decoction very useful for boils, scurvy and rheumatic affections, and by many it is considered superior to Sarsaparilla, on account of its mucilaginous, demulcent nature; it has in addition been recommended for external use as a wash for ulcers and scaly skin disorders.
Burdock is a valuable remedy for the treatment of dry and scaly skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. It cleanses the blood, and should be used gently over a period of time. It may be used as part of a wider treatment for rheumatic complaints, especially where there is associated with psoriasis. An infusion of the leaf may be applied to cracks, grazes, chapped skin and insect bites. It has an antimicrobial action which has been attributed to the polyacetylenes in the plant. This explains its reputation for treating toxic conditions resulting in skin eruptions such as boils; it is also useful in treating acne. An extract of Burdock root called burdock root oil is used to stimulate hair growth in alopoecia.
Medline Plus. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-burdock.html
Purple Sage Botanicals. http://www.purplesage.org.uk/profiles/burdock.htm