Burdock is an herb, a member of the thistle family. The roots are the most important part of this plant, which are used medicinally. The roots and seeds contain iron, essential oils, manganese, sulfur, tannins, zinc, and Vitamins B1, B6, B12, and E.
Burdock has been used to treat fevers and colds, urinary tract infections, and rheumatism, although proof of its effectiveness for these problems is lacking. Other unverified uses include treatment of digestive problems, water retention, eczema, and psoriasis. In Asian medicine, it's considered a remedy for deep skin infections, coughs, sore throats and ulcers. Homeopathic practitioners also use it for skin conditions. This herb is used to purify the blood, restore liver and gallbladder function, stimulate the immune system, and is believed to relieve gout, arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions (diuretic properties). It stimulates appetite and has been used to treat anorexia nervosa. Burdock is also used to treat skin disorders such as boils, acne, abscesses, and dandruff.
The decoction or infusion of burdock root is aperient, but not for all individuals; for some it may even be constipative. Both the tea and the tincture can be used for stomach ailments. Burdock is also said to neutralize and eliminate poisons in the system. The leaves are not generally used but do contain a substance that stimulates the secretion of bile. If they are to be used for liver problems, use fresh leaves only. A decoction of leaves also makes a good wash for sores and may be helpful for acne. The fresh, bruised leaves are sometimes used as a remedy for poison oak or poison ivy. The seeds contain an oil that is used medically, but only with medical supervision. Traditionally, root tea (2 oz. dried root in 1 qt. water) is used as a "blood purifier", diuretic, stimulates bile secretion, sweating, gout, liver and kidney ailments, nephritis, hypertension, edema, rheumatism, lumbago. Nicholas Culpeper, the famous 17th century herbalist, wrote that it "helpeth those that are bit by a mad dog."
In China, a tea of leafy branches was used for vertigo, rheumatism, swollen lymph glands, impotence, and (in tea mixed with brown sugar) for measles. Externally, used as a wash for hives, eczema, and other skin eruptions. Seeds are diuretic; used for abscesses, canker sores, sore throats, fever, insect and snake bites, flu, gonorrhea, leprosy, scrofula, sciatica, backache; once used to treat scarlet fever, smallpox, and scrofula. Crushed seeds poulticed on bruises. Leaves poulticed on burns, wounds, ringworm, ulcers, styes, boils, sores.
Burdock is a wonderful blood cleanser and detoxifying remedy, hastening the elimination of toxins from the body. The roots, leaves and seeds are all bitter, stimulating digestion and liver action and activating the pancreas. They can be used to strengthen a weak digestion, relieve wind, distension and indigestion and as a mild laxative. Burdock is an effective remedy for bacterial and fungal infections and to help re-establish normal bacteria in the gut. Burdock has mild diuretic properties, aiding elimination of toxins via the urine. Burdock can be used for cystitis, water retention, stones and gravel. Taken as a hot decoction, burdock also helps to clear toxins from the tissues via the skin as it causes sweating. Burdock can be used to bring down a fever and can be taken at the onset of any infection with feverishness. The seeds are effective for treating sore throats, tonsilitis, colds and coughs. Burdock helps to bring out eruptions and thus speed recovery from infections such as measles and chickenpox. By pushing toxins into the bloodstream, burdock makes an effective remedy for chronic inflammatory conditions such as gout, arthritis and rheumatism. Burdock is excellent for treating skin disease as it improves the action of the sebaceous glands. Burdock also helps to lower blood sugar in diabetics. The root stimulates the uterus, helping to regulate periods and has been used traditionally for prolapse and to give strength before and after childbirth.