Burdock is a wonderful vegetable and herb due to its numerous health benefits. Although all parts of this plant are edible, the root is the most beneficial hence the name burdock root. Drinking tea from this herb helps detoxify the liver, cleanse the blood, and balance hormones, among other benefits. The plant is similar to dandelion and lotus tea.
What is Burdock?
Arctium lappa or Burdock is native to Europe and parts of Northern Asia. It features deep roots which are characterized by a dark brown appearance. Colloquially known as beggar’s button, it can grow up to 21 inches or 70 centimeters.
They have heart-shaped dark green leaves that blossom between June and October. The burdock plant can grow large and coarse. In some states, the herb is considered a weed because it can spread fast.
The truth is it has been used for centuries to remedy and relieve many ailments. The burdock fruits, roots, seeds, and leaves are traditionally used to make teas for colds, stomach issues, gout, and rheumatism. It’s also said to be an aphrodisiac.
The carrot-shaped root contains a high amount of nutrients such as flavonoids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. Due to its muddy, crisp, and harsh texture as well as wild pungent sweet taste, the herb is gaining popularity as a beverage and food.
The History of Burdock
Burdock root has been used for thousands of years for numerous medicinal uses, including purifying the blood and enhancing the lymphatic system. Traditionally, the Chinese used this herb to treat impotence because it was considered an aphrodisiac.
The Indians valued the root for its tumor-fighting abilities. In some amulets, the plant was believed to guard people against evil and negative energies.
The first use of burdock is recorded in the medieval period, but there are some records in Chinese herbal medicine. Over the years, there have been many ways on how to prepare the plant for consumption as either food or herbal medicine.
Today, burdock still plays a significant role in terms of herbal remedies. Better yet, tea made from this herb is delicious and nutritious and is caffeine-free. It is common in cuisines and is considered as a great vegetable in some countries.
While most herbs can be hard to find and expensive to obtain, burdock is easily cultivated and can be found at reasonable prices in most local stores. The Japanese cultivate this herb in large scale for use in a variety of delicacies. In Hawaii, burdock is used as in salads, stews, soup, and in some dishes.
Most countries already use it in skincare products due to its power to heal skin conditions. Various cosmetic products use it in various ways, such as preventing hair loss and preventing acne among other skin conditions.
Nutrition Facts of Burdock Tea
Drinking a cup of burdock tea is an excellent way to add essential elements and nutrients into the body. The herbal tea packs a high amount of inulin, fatty acids, mucilage, and other elements. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), raw burdock contains carbohydrates, fiber, and protein. (1)
It also contains minerals such as potassium, calcium, selenium, and magnesium. It is a rich source of vitamins, including A, B, C, E, K, and choline. Burdock tea also contains amino acids such as Arginine, Glutamic acid, Aspartic acid, Lysine, and Proline.
These elements are extensive enough to warrant using burdock root tea to boost general health and treat certain conditions.
Health Benefits of Burdock Tea
1. It Removes Toxins from the Blood
One of the most popular uses of burdock tea is to cleanse the blood. This powerful detox helps to get rid of toxins from the bloodstream and control the sugar levels. A study conducted in 2011 found that burdock is useful for detoxification of the blood and may help promote circulation (2).
It also contains specific active ingredients such as flavonoids and antioxidants, which help to flush out harmful microbes and ions from the bloodstream (3). Drinking burdock tea not only makes your blood free of impurities, but it also improves your general body health. Burdock is also rich in iron, which nourishes the blood and prevents anemia.
Because of its powerful purification effect, burdock tea is also beneficial in our lymphatic system, which carries fluids around our bodies.
2. May Help Improve the Symptoms of Diabetes
People with diabetes may also use burdock tea as it helps control the blood sugar level by reducing the absorption of harmful sugars. It is a rich source of fiber to regulate sugar intake and reduce the absorption of toxins from food.
A 2014 study showed that burdock root could help lower high blood glucose in a live tissue sample (4). In another study conducted in 2015, raw burdock root in mice was found to have no effect.
However, the fermented root of this plant was found to reduce blood sugar (5) significantly. Burdock has been used for the treatment of diabetes in traditional medicine because it reduces the level of glucose and triglyceride (6).
Also, the root contains a high level of inulin, a fiber that could help people with hypoglycemia or diabetes (7). Inulin offers healthy sugars without increasing the level of insulin in the body.
3. It Improves Digestion
Burdock tea also enhances digestion, assimilation, and may boost your appetite. The prebiotic inulin fiber in this herb promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut (8). This means you can drink burdock tea in your diet to speed up digestion and allow for better absorption of nutrients in your gut.
It may be useful to drink burdock tea when recovering from an illness and have difficulty eating. It is excellent for soothing the digestive system and protecting it against disease. For stomach issues such as constipation, burdock tea acts as a laxative. The prebiotic fiber allows smooth passage of food from bowels and eases constipation. Drinking this tea may also help with ulcers and bloating.
4. It’s Beneficial for the Skin
Drinking burdock tea regularly can do wonders to your ailing skin for several reasons. It is packed with antioxidants such as luteolin, quercetin, and phenolic acid, which remove free radicals and reduce aging signs. A study found that a cream containing burdock root extract helped improve the skin by reducing the appearance of wrinkles (9).
Burdock tea could also benefit people with acne. It not only helps eliminate it but also reduces its frequency. A 1967 German book, “Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine,” recorded that burdock contains antibiotic and antifungal properties that help fight acne. Its diuretic qualities help in eliminating impurities through the digestive system.
The herb contains iron, potassium, tannins, and flavonoids, which help cleanse the body of certain toxins that can cause chronic skin conditions. Burdock is also used topically in creams to treat skin issues such as eczema, moles, psoriasis, contact dermatitis, abscesses among other skin disorders.
Related Article: Jasmine Tea Benefits for Health and Skin
5. May Help Fight Some Types of Tumors/ Cancer
Although there is little evidence to support this claim, the traditional use of burdock against tumors has been reported in several countries. In China and Japan, the herb was used as early as the 12th century to control tumors of the sinuous regions. In Spain and Chile, burdock was used against “white” and glandular tumors.
The reason for its cancer-fighting ability is the presence of antioxidants which suppress the growth and multiplication of tumors. Free radicals and inflammation are strongly linked to the development of cancer. Burdock’s role as an antioxidant anti-inflammatory might help fight and prevent cancer.
One study found that using this herb may slow down breast cancer tumors (10). While more research is needed, the burdock root significantly interferes with cancer cell growth. Another study conducted in 2011 also found that burdock seed contains “potent inhibitory effects” on certain tumors such as pancreatic carcinoma (11).
Another exciting discovery of burdock that shows promise for naturally fighting cancer is that it contains arctigenin. This compound is found in certain plants of the Asteraceae family including burdock. It has been shown to combat cancer cells and crippling their ability to reproduce (12). Studies like these show that burdock root could be used as a capable natural cancer fighter.
6. Improves Arthritis
Having tea made from the burdock plant offers powerful anti-inflammatory abilities and can be vital in an arthritis diet (13). The herb improves oxidative stress and inflammatory status in patients with knee osteoarthritis.
In the study, subjects were given 3 cups of burdock root tea per day for 6 weeks, and then their inflammatory status was assessed using markers such as high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. The study found that drinking tea made from this herb can be helpful for people with osteoarthritis as it lowers markers.
7. It Is an Aphrodisiac
Another traditional use of the burdock root is to boost sexual desire in both men and women. Its tonic action on the liver improves hormonal balance that is needed for the reproductive organs. An experiment done on rats found that an extract of burdock root enhanced their sexual behavior (14).
The herb enhanced sexual function, especially in male rats. Although more research is needed on humans, these results justify the traditional use of burdock to treat sterility and impotence.
8. Helps Fight an Enlarged Spleen
For you suffering from an enlarged spleen, drinking burdock tea may help. The spleen is a vital organ that keeps the body infections free. An enlarged spleen could be an indication that the immune system is low, although the body is trying hard to keep up with high demand.
Thanks to the burdock root ability to cleanse the blood, it also cleanses the spleen and keeps it healthy. By improving the blood quality, it also enhances the spleen, liver, and prevents inflammation. According to traditional Chinese medicine, a healthier spleen ensures proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Are There Any Common Side Effects of Drinking Burdock Tea?
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises people to choose a trusted source of burdock tea. This is after at least two people were poisoned in 1978 after taking some burdock tea. (15).
As this is a powerful detox and diuretic, you may experience possible side effects from drinking it. Therefore, you should take burdock supplements with moderation, as more research is required to determine its safety. Being a diuretic, you shouldn’t consume it if you’re dehydrated as it may increase dehydration. This also applies to those taking other diuretics and water pills.
Also, if you are allergic to daisies, drinking burdock tea may stimulate an allergic reaction so you should stay safe by avoiding it.
Pregnant women, those who want to conceive and the breast-feeding should not drink burdock tea. According to a study (16), women who consumed it during pregnancy increase the risk of premature labor.
Additionally, children under 18 years of age should avoid drinking the herb. As is typical, people with chronic or life-threatening health conditions should consult a doctor before trying this herb.
How much is too much of burdock tea?
Because burdock research is still in its infancy, there is no exact dosage recommended. However, a cup a day with 2 tbs. of dried burdock is considered safe. It is essential to consult an herbalist for advice on a safe dosage.
Also, you should be careful with your source of burdock. It is unsafe to source wild burdock as these might be contaminated. Besides, other weeds may be mistaken for this plant.
How to Make Burdock Tea
You’ll find that making this tea is quite a breeze. You can buy burdock tea in bags or as loose dried leaves in most local and online stores. Here are the steps in brief:
- Boil water
- Place about one tablespoon in a teacup and add the boiling water
- Let it seep for at least 5 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea
- Strain the loose leaves and enjoy
- In case you find the flavor unpleasant, you can add honey or lemon juice to taste
You can also prepare iced burdock tea at home. Just add two tablespoons of dried leaves in cold water and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes, or for as long as how strong you like it.
Despite the prickly burrs, you’ve got to love burdock for its numerous uses. From purifying blood and cleansing to the spleen to helping your skin look smoother, it’s enough for anyone to give it a chance.
Just remember to consult your physician or herbalist before consuming this herb to avoid the side effects. We hope you find the information in this article helpful.