Main content

    Health Information

    Burdock

    Burdock

    Uses

    Common names:
    Burdock Root
    Botanical names:
    Arctium lappa

    Parts Used & Where Grown

    Burdock is native to Asia and Europe. The root is the primary source of many herbal preparations. The root becomes very soft with chewing and tastes sweet, with a mucilaginous (sticky) texture.

    What Are Star Ratings?

    Our proprietary "Star-Rating" system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

    For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

    3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

    2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

    1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

    This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

    Used for Why
    1 Star
    Acne Rosacea
    Refer to label instructions
    Learn More

    Historically, tonic herbs, such as burdock , have been used in the treatment of skin conditions. These herbs are believed to have a cleansing action when taken internally.4 Burdock root tincture may be taken in 2 to 4 ml amounts per day. Dried root preparations in a capsule or tablet can be used at 1 to 2 grams three times per day. Many herbal preparations combine burdock root with other alterative herbs, such as yellow dock , red clover , or cleavers . In the treatment of acne rosacea, none of these herbs has been studied in scientific research.

    1 Star
    Acne Vulgaris
    Refer to label instructions
    Learn More

    Historically, tonic herbs, such as burdock , have been used in the treatment of skin conditions. These herbs are believed to have a cleansing action when taken internally.5 Burdock root tincture may be taken in the amount of 2 to 4 ml per day. Dried root preparations in a capsule or tablet can be used at 1 to 2 grams three times per day. Many herbal preparations combine burdock root with other alterative herbs, such as yellow dock , red clover , or cleavers . In the treatment of acne, none of these herbs has been studied in scientific research.

    1 Star
    Eczema
    Refer to label instructions
    1 Star
    Menopause
    Refer to label instructions
    Learn More

    A variety of herbs with weak estrogen-like actions similar to the effects of soy have traditionally been used for women with menopausal symptoms.7 These herbs include licorice , alfalfa , and red clover . In a double-blind trial, a formula containing tinctures of licorice, burdock , dong quai , wild yam , and motherwort (30 drops three times daily) was found to reduce symptoms of menopause.8 No effects on hormone levels were detected in this study. In a separate double-blind trial, supplementation with dong quai (4.5 grams three times daily in capsules) had no effect on menopausal symptoms or hormone levels.9 A double-blind trial using a standardized extract of subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum), a relative of red clover , containing 40 mg isoflavones per tablet did not impact symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, though it did improve function of the arteries.10 An extract of red clover, providing 82 mg of isoflavones per day, also was ineffective in a 12-week double-blind study.11 In another double-blind study, however, administration of 80 mg of isoflavones per day from red clover reduced the frequency of hot flashes in postmenopausal women. The benefit was noticeable after 4 weeks of treatment and became more pronounced after a total of 12 weeks.12

    1 Star
    Psoriasis
    Refer to label instructions
    Learn More

    In traditional herbal texts, burdock root was believed to clear the bloodstream of toxins.13 It was used both internally and externally for psoriasis. Traditional herbalists recommend 2 to 4 ml of burdock root tincture per day. For the dried root preparation in tablet or capsule form, the common amount to take is 1 to 2 grams three times per day. Many herbal preparations will combine burdock root with other alterative herbs, such as yellow dock , red clover , or cleavers . Burdock root has not been studied in clinical trials to evaluate its efficacy in helping people with psoriasis.

    1 Star
    Rheumatoid Arthritis
    Refer to label instructions
    Learn More

    Burdock root has been used historically both internally and externally to treat painful joints. Its use in the treatment of people with RA remains unproven.

    Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

    In traditional herbal texts, burdock root is described as a "blood purifier" or "alterative"1 and was believed to clear the bloodstream of toxins. It was used both internally and externally for eczema and psoriasis , as well as to treat painful joints and as a diuretic. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, burdock root in combination with other herbs is used to treat sore throats , tonsillitis, colds , and even measles .2 In Japan, it is eaten as a vegetable.

    Burdock root has recently become popular as part of a tea to treat cancer. To date, however, research is insufficient to promote burdock for this application.3

    How It Works

    Common names:
    Burdock Root
    Botanical names:
    Arctium lappa

    How It Works

    Burdock root contains high amounts of inulin and mucilage. This may explain its soothing effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Bitter constituents in the root may also explain the traditional use of burdock to improve digestion. Additionally, burdock has been shown to reduce liver damage in animal studies.14 This has not been confirmed in human studies, however. It also contains polyacetylenes that have demonstrated anti-microbial activity.15 Even though test tube and animal studies have indicated some anti-tumor activity in burdock root, these results have not been duplicated in human studies.16 Several animal and test tubes studies have also suggested an anti-inflammatory effect of unknown compounds in burdock root or seeds, including an ability to inhibit the potent inflammation-causing chemical platelet activating factor.17 , 18

    How to Use It

    Traditional herbalists recommend 2-4 ml of burdock root tincture per day.19 For the dried root preparation in capsule form, some herbalists recommend 1-2 grams three times per day. Many herbal preparations combine burdock root with other alterative "blood cleansing" herbs, such as yellow dock , red clover , or cleavers .

    Interactions

    Common names:
    Burdock Root
    Botanical names:
    Arctium lappa

    Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

    At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.

    Interactions with Medicines

    As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
    The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers' package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

    Side Effects

    Common names:
    Burdock Root
    Botanical names:
    Arctium lappa

    Side Effects

    Burdock root contains approximately 50% inulin,20 a fiber widely distributed in fruits, vegetables and plants. Inulin is classified as a food ingredient (not as an additive) and is considered to be safe to eat.21 In fact, inulin is a significant part of the daily diet of most of the world's population.22 However, there is a report of a 39-year-old man having a life-threatening allergic reaction after consuming high amounts of inulin from multiple sources.23 Allergy to inulin in this individual was confirmed by laboratory tests. Such sensitivities are exceedingly rare. Moreover, this man did not take burdock. Nevertheless, people with a confirmed sensitivity to inulin should avoid burdock. There is one published case report of a severe allergic reaction, apparently due to burdock itself.24

    References

    1. Hoffman D. The Herbal Handbook: A User's Guide to Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1988, 23-4.

    2. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 107-8.

    3. Morita K, Kada T, Namiki M. A desmutagenic factor isolated from burdock (Arctium lappa Linne). Mutation Res 1984;129:25-31.

    4. Hoffman D. The Herbal Handbook: A User's Guide to Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1988, 23-4.

    5. Hoffman D. The Herbal Handbook: A User's Guide to Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1988, 23-4.

    6. Hoffman D. The Herbal Handbook: A User's Guide to Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1988, 23-4.

    7. Crawford AM. The Herbal Menopause Book. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1996.

    8. Hudson TS, Standish L, Breed C, et al. Clinical and endocrinological effects of a menopausal botanical formula. J Naturopathic Med 1997;7(1):73-7.

    9. Hirata JD, Swiersz LM, Zell B, et al. Does dong quai have estrogenic effects in postmenopausal women? A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Fertil Steril 1997;68:981-6.

    10. Nestel PJ, Pomeroy S, Kay S, et al. Isoflavones from red clover improve systemic arterial compliance but not plasma lipids in menopausal women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1999;84:895-8.

    11. Tice JA, Ettinger B, Ensrud K, et al. Phytoestrogen supplements for the treatment of hot flashes: the Isoflavone Clover Extract (ICE) Study: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2003;290:207-14.

    12. van de Weijer PHM, Barentsen R. Isoflavones from red clover (Promensil®) significantly reduce menopausal hot flush symptoms compared with placebo. Maturitas 2002;42:187-93.

    13. Hoffman D. The Herbal Handbook: A User's Guide to Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1988, 23-4 [review].

    14. Lin CC, Lin JM, Yang JJ, et al. Anti-inflammatory and radical scavenge [sic] effects of Arctium lappa. Am J Chin Med 1996;24:127-37.

    15. Wichtl M. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1994, 9-101.

    16. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 52-3.

    17. Lin CC, Lin JM, Yang JJ, et al. Anti-inflammatory and radical scavenge [sic] effects of Arctium lappa. Am J Chin Med 1996;24:127-37.

    18. Iwakami S, Wu JB, Ebizuka Y, Sankawa U. Platelet activating factor (PAF) antagonists contained in medicinal plants: Lignans and sesquiterpenes. Chem Pharm Bull 1992;40:1196-8.

    19. Bradley DR (ed). British Herbal Compendium, vol 1. Bournemouth, England: British Herbal Medicine Association, 1992, 48-9.

    20. Duke, JA. Handbook of Phytochemical Constituents of GRAS Herbs and Other Economic Plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1992.

    21. Carabin IG, Flamm WG. Evaluation of safety of inulin and oligofructose as dietary fiber. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 1999;30:268-82 [review].

    22. Coussement PA. Inulin and oligofructose: safe intakes and legal status. J Nutr 1999;129:1412S-7S [review].

    23. Gay-Crosier F, Schreiber G, Hauser C. Anaphylaxis from inulin in vegetables and processed food. N Engl J Med 2000;342:1372 [letter].

    24. Sasaki Y, Kimura Y, Tsunoda T, Tagami H. Anaphylaxis due to burdock. Int J Dermatol2003;42:472-3.

    This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

    Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.