Burdock is a plant that belongs to the daisy family. It has been known for hundreds of years, by Chinese Medicine practitioners, who mixed Burdock’s roots with other herbs to form a mixture that was commonly used in the treatment of many conditions including high fever and throat infection.
In eastern Asia and some European countries, Burdock is considered a form of root vegetable. The seeds, roots and leaves of Burdock can be used to prepare various medicinal products.
What is in Burdock Root?
According to an article published by the American Journal of Chinese Medicine in 1996, Burdock is rich in a wide array of nutrients and bioactive compounds including carbohydrates, plants sterols, inulin, volatile oils and tannins.
The combination of active ingredients that composes the therapeutic effects of Burdock is not fully known, however; in a study published by the Journal of Complementary Alternative Medicine in 2011, Burdock roots were found to have anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects.
Additionally, some recent studies have proven that Burdock roots’ extracts possess anti-bacterial, or probiotic, effects. Burdock roots can also promote healing.
Uses of Burdock Roots:
According to WebMd, The fresh or dried roots of Burdock are used, either alone, or in combination of other herbs, to make therapeutic products that are used in the treatment of many diseases and clinical conditions including:
- Urinary retention and fluid over load:
Burdock roots have a diuretic effect i.e. they stimulate the kidneys to produce more urine, to eliminate excess fluids in the body.
- Inflammatory skin conditions:
Burdock roots can be used topically to suppress the inflammation that accompanies some inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne.
- Bacterial infections:
It has an anti-bacterial effect, so it is used in the management of bladder infections, fever, sore throat and joint infections.
- Gastrointestinal tract disorders:
Burdock roots contain inulin, which is a dietary fiber that can regulate the movement and function of the gastrointestinal tract; hence, Burdock roots are useful in the treatment of anorexia nervosa, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
- Other diseases and clinical disorders:
Despite the lack of solid evidence, some claim that Burdock roots are helpful in the management of various disorders including cancer, hypertension, joint inflammation, cancer and liver disease.
Essiac and Burdock Root
Burdock roots’ powder is a main ingredient of Flor-Essence and Essiac, which are herbal preparations that are claimed to help in the treatment of cancer. Although some believe that Essiac and Flor-Essence can reduce the size of malignant tumors, alleviate pain, prolong survival and boost immunity, evidence supporting such claims is lacking
A counteracting statement on the other hand; a study that took place in 2006 proved that Flor-Essence and Essiac can trigger the growth of cancer cells in the human breast.
Side Effects of Burdock and Possible Drug Interactions
Although Burdock roots are safe and edible in parts of Asia and Europe, information regarding its safety, when taken in therapeutic doses is still lacking.
Burdock roots have been reported to produce the following side effects:
- Burdock can trigger allergic reactions in people who are hypersensitive to certain types of herbs and flowers. Occasionally, applying topical preparations containing Burdock roots’ extracts can elicit the appearance of skin rash in the applied area.
- Burdock roots are teratogenic i.e. they can trigger malformations in the fetuses of pregnant women, so they shouldn’t be used during pregnancy.
- Burdock roots can sometimes be contaminated with toxic herbs such as belladonna, so it is always wise to choose Burdock preparations that are produced by established manufacturers.
- Burdock roots shouldn’t be taken by dehydrated people, because their diuretic effect can worsen dehydration.
- Burdock roots may slow down the process of blood clotting, increasing the risk of bleeding and bruising.
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