Scientific Name/Common Name: Arctium lappa / Burdock

Part(s) Used: Root

Constituents/Active Ingredients: Approximately 27-45% inulin, mucilage (up to 75% of the root is carbohydrate in the form of fructo-oligo-saccharides (FOS) including inulin); 0.06-0.18% essential oil with so far 66 identified components; antibacterial polyacetylenes; bitter substances (i.e. lactones); 1.9-3.65% polyphenols including caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid and other flavonoid-type antioxidants; sitosterol and stigmasterol.  

Overview: Burdock root, also known as gobo or “poor-man’s potatoes”, is an important food in Japan known for its many healing properties. Traditionally, burdock root was used in Europe, India, and China to treat respiratory disorders, abscesses, joint pain, urinary problems, and for detoxification and cleansing. The German Pharmacopoeia lists this herb for treating gastrointestinal complaints, as well as joint and bone conditions. The tea is also considered to be a traditional blood purifier and diuretic. Up to seventy-five percent of the root is made up of complex carbohydrates known as fructo-oligo-saccharides (FOS), including 27-45% inulin. Based on clinical studies, intake of FOS significantly increases beneficial bifidobacteria within the gastrointestinal tract and eliminates bacterial pathogens. The high levels of FOS in burdock root and its water extract also help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. As a mildly bitter-tasting herb, it increases saliva and bile secretion, which aids digestion and cleanses the liver.

Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: Traditionally used for treating skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Also used in herbal medicine as a diuretic, as a pain reliever for rheumatic complaints, and as an alternative to help remove accumulated waste products via the kidneys, skin, and mucus membranes.

Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:

Wichtl M (ed). 1994. Bardanae Radix – Burdock Root (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 99-101.

Yamashita K, Kawai K, and Itakura M. 1984. Effects of fructo-oligosaccharides on blood glucose and serum lipids in diabetic subjects. Nutr Res 4: 961-966.

Hoffmann D. 2003. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester (VT): Healing Arts Press.

Disclaimer: This information in our Herbal Encyclopedia is intended only as a general reference for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for medical advice. This content does not provide dosage information, cautions/contraindications, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Please consult any relevant product labels for detailed information on use and with a medical practitioner for individual health advice.