Know Your Medicinal Plants: Burdock

Chinese name: Niu bang zi

Latin name: Arctium lappa (Asteraceae)

Appearance: A bienniel that produces a rosette of large leaves in its first year, then stems that grow up to 5 feet with reddish-purple flower heads and hooked bracts.

Habitat: Native to Europe and Asia, but now grows in temperate regions throughout the world.

Properties: Detoxifying, mild diuretic, antibiotic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, hypoglycemic, antitumor, hepatoprotective

Parts used: Roots dug during first growing season; leaves and fruit (containing seeds) harvested in late summer/early fall 

Primary preparations: Leaves, seeds, fruit, roots can be used fresh or dried; may be prepared as decoctions, tinctures, infusions, or poultices

Practical uses: Skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, oily skin, acne, boils; gout; arthritis; staph infection 

Combinations: Burdock is rarely used on its own in remedies. It is often combined with dandelion, yellow dock, or red clover.

Editor’s note: Consult with a qualified healthcare professional before attempting to self-treat ailments.

SOURCE: Chevallier A. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. New York, NY: DK Publishing; 2016:56. 

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