Burdock (Arctium lappa)
Burdock (Arctium lappa)
Burdock has historically been used to treat a wide variety of ailments, including arthritis, diabetes, and hair loss. It is a principal herbal ingredient in the popular cancer remedies Essiac (rhubarb, sorrel, slippery elm) and Hoxsey formula (red clover, poke, prickly ash, bloodroot, barberry).
Burdock fruit has been found to cause hypoglycemia in animals, and preliminary human studies have examined the efficacy of burdock root in diabetes. In vitro and animal studies have explored the use of burdock for bacterial infections, cancer, HIV, and nephrolithiasis. However, there is currently insufficient human evidence regarding the efficacy of burdock for any indication.
Akujitsu, anthraxivore, arctii, Arctium minus , Arctium tomentosa , bardana, Bardanae Radix, bardane, bardane grande (French), beggar's buttons, burdock root, burr, burr seed, chin, clot-burr, Clotbur, cocklebur, cockle button, cocklebuttons, cuckold, daiki kishi, Edible burdock, Fox's clote, grass burdock, great bur, great burdock, Great burdocks, gobo (Japan), Grosse klette (German), happy major, hardock, hare burr, hurrburr, Kletterwurzel (German), lampazo (Spanish), lappola, love leaves, niu bang zi, oil of lappa, personata, Philanthropium, thorny burr, turkey burrseed, woo-bang-ja, wild gobo.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Uses based on scientific evidenceGrade*Diabetes
Animal research and initial human studies suggest possible blood sugar lowering effects of burdock root or fruit. However, the available human research has not been well designed, and further study is needed before a clear recommendation can be made.
* Key to grades
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;
B: Good scientific evidence for this use;
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;
D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
Uses based on tradition or theory
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Abscesses, acne, anorexia nervosa, aphrodisiac, arthritis, bacterial infections, bladder disorders, blood thinner, boils, burns, cancer, canker sores, common cold, cosmetic uses, dandruff, detoxification, diuretic (increasing urine flow), eczema, fever, fungal infections, gout, hair loss, headache, hemorrhoids, hives, HIV infection, hormonal effects, inflammation, ichthyosis (skin disorder), impotence, kidney diseases, kidney stones, laxative, liver disease, liver protection, lice, back pain, measles, pneumonia, psoriasis, respiratory infections, rheumatoid arthritis, ringworm, sciatica, scurvy, seborrhea (over-activity of sebaceous skin glands), skin disorders, skin moisturizer, sores, sterility, syphilis, tonsillitis, ulcers, urinary tract infections, venereal diseases, warts, wound healing.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Standardization involves measuring the amount of certain chemicals in products to try to make different preparations similar to each other. It is not always known if the chemicals being measured are the "active" ingredients. Currently, there is no widely accepted standardization for burdock products, and various preparations and doses have been used traditionally.
Adults (18 years and older)
General use (by mouth) : No specific dose of burdock has been proven effective or safe, although a range of doses and types of preparations have been used. As a dried root, a range of doses have been used, including 2 to 6 grams of pure dried root daily, or 2 to 6 grams of dried root in the form of a decoction three times daily. As tablets/capsules, burdock may be available in 425 to 475 milligram capsules. In a decoction (1:20), 500 milliliters daily has been used. In a tincture, 8 to 12 milliliters (1:5) three times daily, or 2 to 8 milliliters (1:10 in 25% alcohol) three times daily, or 0.25 to 1 teaspoon (1:10 in 45% alcohol) up to three times daily has been used. As a fluid extract (1:1 in 25% alcohol), 2 to 8 milliliters three times daily has been used. Burdock has also been used as a root tea, with 2 to 6 grams of dried burdock root in 500 milliliters of water taken three times daily, or 1 cup 3 to 4 times daily, or 1 teaspoon of dried burdock root boiled in 3 cups of water for 30 minutes (up to 3 cups daily). Burdock has been used as a diuretic (to increase urine flow), with preparations made from powdered burdock seeds as a yellow product called oil of lappa.
Topical (on the skin) : Burdock has been used on the skin as a compress or plaster for eczema, psoriasis, baldness, or warts.
Children (younger than 18 years)
There is not enough scientific information to recommend the use of burdock in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Allergy to burdock may occur in individuals with allergy to members of the Asteraceae/Compositae family, including ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, and daisies. Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) have been associated with burdock. Allergic skin reactions have been associated with the use of burdock plasters on the skin.
Side Effects and Warnings
Based on traditional use, burdock is generally believed to be safe when taken by mouth in recommended doses for short periods of time. Handling the plant or using preparations on the skin (such as plasters) has occasionally been reported to cause allergic skin reactions. Diuretic effects (increasing urine flow) and estrogen-like effects have been reported with oral burdock use in patients with HIV. Although reports of symptoms such as dry mouth and slow heart rate have been noted in people taking burdock products, it is believed that contamination with belladonna may be responsible for these reactions. Contamination may occur during harvesting.
In theory, tannins present in burdock may be toxic, although toxicity has not been reported in animal studies. Tannins can cause stomach upset, and in high concentrations may result in kidney or liver damage. Long-term use of tannins may increase the risk of head and neck cancers, although this has not been seen in humans. Based on animal research and limited human study, burdock may cause either increases or reductions in blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood sugar levels may need monitoring by a qualified healthcare provider, and medication adjustments might be necessary. In theory, burdock may also cause electrolyte imbalances (for example, changes in potassium or sodium levels in the blood) due to diuretic effects (increased urine flow).
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Based on animal studies that show components of burdock to cause uterus stimulation, burdock is sometimes recommended to be avoided during pregnancy. Due to limited scientific study, burdock cannot be considered safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
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January 01, 2004