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Burdock, a mild Bitter for Food and Health

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Burdock, a mild Bitter for Food and Health

It would be almost unthinkable not to follow up my post on Dandelion with Burdock.  To me, these are natural companions, both as medicinal herbs and as food.  Burdock is a plant I have a lot of experience with both as an herb and as food.... it is VERY common where I live. It is wonderful, except for being hard to dig and the dogs always getting burs in their fur that usually have to be cut out. I probably spent as much time trying to pick burs out of fur and off of my clothes as a kid as I did fishing.... and that is saying a lot.

Although farm raised Burdock or "Gobo" is fairly bland, the wild plants I harvest are tasty as cooked vegetables. I want to try some of the Japanese recipes for pickling the root - it would probably be very good. But, I tend to toss young root in with a lot of stuff since the flavor is mild.... excellent cooked with bacon, onion and cabbage, that is for sure! The leaves are great, too, but they usually end up as a streamside dish with trout, for me, gathered around the campsite. I like to stuff whole, cleaned trout with wild onions or ramps a few slices of lemon or wood sorrel, salt and pepper... maybe some mushrooms and/or crawfish tails... maybe angelica leaves... then wrap in burdock leaves.  I cook these little packages directly on the coals of the campsite - the outer leaves char while the fish steams inside. After pealing off the charred outer leaves, I'll eat the whole package. I usually have rice with that, and it is one of those really amazing wild meals.

I use the roots with dandelion for liver and skin - great in Bitters with licorice root. The roots are mildly bitter and cooling to the liver.

According to the late herbalist, Michael Moore, the leaves good for poultice. Juiced leaves are good for abrasions, heat rash, chaffing etc. The leaf is anti-microbial and soothing. The plant is biennial. Harvest roots before the plant seeds, in the spring of the second year or fall of first year. Root is used to diminish liver excess and nitrogen dominance. It cools liver and mildly stimulates bile. It does not suppress liver. The root causes some people to sweat. Burdock is a sodium leeching diuretic. Contains inulin. Inulin from Burdock, dandelion or chicory is an aldosterone antidote. Good for hypertension. Good for recovering from cancer and could help prevent cancer due to a unique effect on DNA. Increased liver bile can help with constipation. The seeds can be used but are not as strong. MM recommends fluid extract of the root. For use as a simple diuretic and mild kidney tonic, could be good when needed in pregnancy like winter pregnancy when skin isn't exposed and puts load on kidneys for excretion. Also a good aid for blood cleansing and for chronic skin issues like eczema and psoriasis. Good for atopic reaction to allergies.

According to Thomas J. Elpel, Botany In A Day, "The root contain 45% Inulin Polysaccharides."

According tot he PDR for Herbal Medicines, 3rd Edition:

Burdock, Artctium lappa

...burdock may have antibacterial, antineoplastic, antioxidant, antiretroviral, anti-inflammatory and hepato-protective properties. states:

Burdock is one of the foremost detoxifying herbs in both Chinese and Western herbal medicine. The dried root of one year old plants is the official herb, but the leaves and fruits can also be used. It is used to treat conditions caused by an "overload" of toxins, such as throat and other infections, boils, rashes and other skin problems. The root is thought to be particularly good at helping to eliminate heavy metals from the body. The plant is also part of a North American formula called essiac which is a popular treatment for cancer. Its effectiveness has never been reliably proven or disproven since controlled studies have not been carried out. The other herbs included in the formula are Rumex acetosella, Ulmus rubra and Rheum palmatum. The plant is antibacterial, antifungal, carminative. It has soothing, mucilaginous properties and is said to be one of the most certain cures for many types of skin diseases, burns, bruises etc. It is used in the treatment of herpes, eczema, acne, impetigo, ringworm, boils, bites etc. The plant can be taken internally as an infusion, or used externally as a wash. Use with caution. The roots of one-year old plants are harvested in mid-summer and dried. They are alterative, aperient, blood purifier, cholagogue, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic and stomachic. The seed is alterative, antiphlogistic, depurative, diaphoretic and diuretic. Recent research has shown that seed extracts lower blood sugar levels. The seed is harvested in the summer and dried for later use. The crushed seed is poulticed onto bruises. The leaves are poulticed onto burns, ulcers and sores.

The only known hazard that I can find is that the seed pods may be irritating.... which goes to the old saying, about an annoyed or upset person "I reckon he's got a bur in his britches!

Images from Wiki, photo By Christian Fischer, CC BY-SA 3.0,   Illustration from the Japanese agricultural encyclopedia Seikei Zusetsu (1804)
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