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Botanical name: Arctium lappa, Lappa minor.

Parts used: Root, leaves and seed.

Medicinal Properties:
Root: Diuretic, Depilatory, Alternative, Diaphoretic, Aperient, Cholagogue, Depurative.
Leaves: Maturing, Hepatic.
Seed: Alternative, Diuretic.

Medicinal Uses: The burrs (seed) and stems are bitter, whilst the roots and leaves are of sweet taste. Burdock is considered one of the finest blood purifiers, being without irritating or nauseating properties. It is claimed to neutralize and eliminate poisons from the whole of the system.

The seeds contain an oil which is used medicinally, but it should only be used under medical supervision.

Burdock contains the minerals, iron and magnesium. It also contains inulin (now allantoin) in large quantities. Its inulin content in some plants analysed, has been as high as 45%.

It is an excellent remedy for reducing flesh and is even better when it is combined with Kelp and Cleavers.

Burdock has always had a good reputation in treating falling hair. The hair should be massaged daily with a lotion made up of the roots and leaves of Burdock with leaves and stems of Nettle. Make the roots and leaves of Burdock equal parts, into a decoction as instructed at the end of this monograph, and then add one pint of infusion of Nettle. Shake well, and apply night and morning with friction. Rub well into the scalp and hair. Apply as a hair dressing throughout the day. A decoction of the fresh leaves is also useful for Crustia Lactae, greyish white crusts in the hair with an offensive odour.

It is an excellent remedy in Ophthalmia and frequent applications should be applied to the eyes. The decoction of root or seeds is used for this purpose and applied with an eye bath. After the bathing of the first eye, the decoction should be discarded and rinsed, and a fresh eye bath full should be used for the second eye. This will help to prevent infection from the first eye.

It is to be considered in cases of persistent colds, chronic conditions of the bronchial tubes and diseases of the respiratory tract. In all these cases and in pleurisy a decoction should be used. Many cases that have failed to respond to better indicated remedies have responded well to Burdock.

Burdock is ver soothing to the mucous membrane and is therefore of great assistance in irritated conditions.

If the nervous system is damaged in any way, the seeds of Burdock made up as a decoction will have a soothing effect. It is also, an excellent relaxant to the nervous system. Again, the decoction of the seeds is a very useful remedy for hysteria.

For stomach ailments, both the tea and the tincture are valuable, especially for dyspepsia and indigestion where there is ‘bad blood’. For irritation of the stomach and catarrh of the duodenum there is no finer remedy.

The leaves contain a substance that stimulates secretion of bile. Should the leaves be used for liver complaints, the fresh leaves only should be used. The root, leaves and seeds are a good hepatic alternative.

Burdock increases the flow of urine and is used for the removal of gravelly deposits from the urinary organs. Useful in nephritic affections. For inflammation and irritation of the bladder, scalding urine and mucous discharge from kidney or bladder.

When there is back pain caused by bladder infections, Burdock is an excellent remedy. It is a very powerful and strong remedy for both kidney and bladder, and soothing to both. The decoction of the seeds is best for bladder and kidney disorders. This herb is not used often enough in such cases.

In skin complaints, the root is one of the best blood purifiers known to herbalists, slowly influencing the skin. The fresh tea taken freely, will cure all kinds of skin diseases such as boils, carbuncles and abscesses. In the case of rashes, pimples, boils scurvy and eczema, the root is excellent, taken internally and applied externally, and particularly if combined with Yellow Dock root which in itself is a valuable remedy for these complaints. The two roots should be used in decoction, one ounce of Burdock root and one ounce of Yellow Dock root. Place in a cooking pot and cover with three pints of water. Soak for six hours and then boil down to two pints. Strain. Dose, a wine glassful four times a day. For forunculosis, acne, impetigo, scabbing and cutaneous eruptions, blows, bruises and contusions, apply poultices of the fresh leaves, boiled for five minutes in water and applied whilst hot.

In the treatment of festering boils a mixture of Burdock root, Dandelion root and Yellow Dock root in equal parts should be taken. One ounce of the roots should be placed in one and a half pints of water and boil down to one pint. Strain and take doses of one wineglassful, four times a day.

A decoction of the leaves is useful as a wash on sores and other skin abrasions and has proven useful in acne. The decoction of the root should be taken internally at the same time.

Many other skin problems call for this herb in their treatment, among these being; Psoriasis, sores that are old and keep weeping, scorbutic conditions, scrophula, leprous conditions, canker sores, for cleaning cuts and wounds, pitiryasis, lupus, haemorrhoids, stubborn eczema, dry scaly skin, obstinate ulcers.

An excellent salve is made for application to skin eruptions, burns, bruises and wounds, swellings and haemorrhoids, by combining one pound of fresh grated Burdock root with one and a half pounds of solid fat. Simmer slowly in a pan for two hours. Strain and pour into containers. Apply to the affected parts as necessary. Drink freely of the decoction whilst using the salve.

The herb should combined with Bean pods in the treatment of erisipelas. Taken both internally and externally.

Burdock leaves should be crushed and bound upon boils to aid supperation. By mixing the decoction with honey to form a paste, it can be used as a skin application and is particularly useful for old ulcers and sores. The fresh leaves of the herb may be wrapped around parts of the body that are affected where there is feeble cutaneous circulation.

It relieves the lymphatic system, and in hot infusion the seeds influence the sebaceous glands. The juice is used for purifying the blood, for snake bites and appendicitis. It is also used in peritonitis.

Recommended for gout and rheumatism. A poultice should be applied to gouty swellings. The seed crushed in wine is a good remedy for sciatica. Useful for inflammatory rheumatism. Use both internally ans externally.

It is a valuable remedy for shrinking of the sinews and arteries. In view of this, it might be of value in Dupuytrans contraction. However, the two cases of had of this, I cured with Homoeopathic Remedies.

The decoction or infusion of the root is generally aperient but not for every person in some cases it is constipating.

A hot fomentation is applied to swellings, whilst a poultice of the leaves is used on tumours. A decoction is used for internal tumours and it has been claimed to have cured some cancers.

For diabetes a decoction of the fresh root is used to lower the blood sugar, unsweetened of course. Dose, a wine glassful six times a day.

The seeds are of advantage in oedema, as they soon influence the condition. The seeds should be ground or bruised in order to extract their properties more speedily. In hot infusion they are excellent in the treatment of scarlatina, typhoid fever and other exanthematous diseases.

For measles, the fresh root should be made into a decoction. Sugar syrup or honey (preferable) should be added and doses of a dessert spoonful should be given every quarter of an hour. The eruption should be complete within a day. The child should be kept warm and within four or five days the cure should be complete.

The leaves in hot fomentation are an excellent treatment for sprains.

Preparation: Both the root and seed are taken as a decoction. The decoction is prepared by taking an ounce of the root or seed and boiling down in one and a half pints of water to one pint. The dose is one wine glassful four times a day.

The dose of the tincture is from ten to twenty-five drops in water. Dose four times a day.

Juice. Grate the fresh root and add half as much again of the volume of water. Allow to stand for four hours. Squeeze out the liquid. Drink one cupful a day a mouthful at a time. Very useful for purifying the blood.

Fluid Extract:
Root: 1/2 to 1 drachm. (½ to one teaspoonful).
Seed: 10 to 30 minims (drops).
Mother tincture: 5 to 10 drops.

5 comments to Burdock

  • Grumpy Grandpa

    For that – I needed a dictionary alongside the article!

    I’ve always liked burdock but as far I knew (until now…) it only came as a Dandelion and Burdock fizzy drink!

    What a huge variety of uses though! From baldness to the bronchials, by way of carbuncles and cancer! Its insulin content is particularly interesting, both because of my recent reading and because a friend has a diabetic son. Whether or not this could be a viable alternative when sources of medication dry up, is certainly worthy of further investigation!

    My thanks…

  • Kenneth Eames

    GG, Thanks for your comments. However, an error has occured in this article. It does not contain INSULIN, it contains INULIN which is completely different. The modern name for Inulin is ALLANTOIN, which is added to some toothpastes.
    SD, Can you please, correct this error. It occurs after the introduction in the third paragraph of Uses. I don’t know how this error crept in, probably a lapse in concentration. I am sorry about this. After four or five Herbal monographs have been published, I will add a glossery containing a list of words and their meanings. Kenneth Eames.

  • Skean Dhude


    Sorry to mislead you. That error did make a difference.


    I’ve fixed it now. The spelling was correct in your document and I obviously changed it when I put it on the post.

    I try and spell check all the articles first and I make a point of not changing any technical words just in case. I dropped the ball on this one.


  • Kenneth Eames

    Hello SD, Easily done and thank you for putting it right. I’ve made so many mistakes and to think that I have been a proof reader and was a member of the society of Indexers. I despair of what is happening to me. Again thank you for correcting this. Kenneth Eames.

  • Grumpy Grandpa

    Kenneth, SD, my thanks to you both, these things can and do, happen. Not to worry. A great pity though – it could have been an answer…

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