A Quick Guide to Brilliant Burdock Plant and Burdock Root Benefits

You’ve probably brushed against burdock plants at one time or another. Burdock seed heads are known for their ability to cling to the clothing of travelers. However, did you know the root is a delicious vegetable that detoxifies the body? Burdock root tea is an effective remedy for acne, eczema and psoriasis. What’s more, the herb that inspired Velcro is also reputed to be a remedy for hair loss. Stick with us to learn more about the history of the sensational burdock root and find out what it's good for.


Burdock Plantgenera

Many recognize burdock (Arctium sp.) by its prickly seed heads, which tend to cling to the socks and sweaters of unsuspecting travelers while hiking through woods and fields. This persistent attachment brought burdock from the “Old World” to the Americas. Many writers have gone out of their way to mention burdock in their works.

Famed American poet Emily Dickinson made several references to burdock in her literature, including:

“Mother went rambling, and came back with a burdock on her shawl, so we know that the snow has perished from the earth.”

-Emily Dickinson, Letters of Emily Dickinson

“A Burdock clawed my Gown Not Burdock’s blame But mine Who went too near The Burdock’s Den”

-Emily Dickinson, A Burdock Clawed My Gown

Russian novelist and essayist Leo Tolstoy described an encounter with a lone burdock plant in a plowed field in his diary

“It makes me want to write. It asserts life to the end, and alone in the midst of the whole field, somehow or other had asserted it.”

In “The Dispersion of Seeds,” published posthumously as Faith in a Seed, Henry David Thoreau wrote:

“We often say that a person’s clothes are old and seedy, which may mean that they are far gone and dilapidated like a plant that is gone to seed - or, possibly, that they are made untidy by many seeds adhering to them. So with the fruit of the burdock, with which children are won’t to build houses and barns without any mortar: both men and animals, apparently such as have shaggy coats, are employed in transporting them. I have even relieved a cat with a large mass of them which she could not get rid of, and I frequently see a cow with a bunch in the end of her whisking tail, which, perhaps, she stings herself in her vain efforts to brush off imagined flies.”

The prose that best portrays the tenacious nature of burdock was penned by William Shakespeare and delivered by the character Lucio in the comedy Measure for Measure. Upon vowing to defend Friar Lodowick (who is the Duke of Vienna in disguise) from the bawdy speech of the peasantry, Lucio ensures his unwavering devotion with this simple statement:

“I am a kind of burr; I shall stick.”

In addition to being found in several works of literature, the hook-and-loop design of the seed bracts also fueled the imagination of Swiss inventor George de Mestral. Mestral introduced the world to Velcro in the early 1940s, and it’s been one of the most reliable fasteners ever since. Outside of its place in literary works and product innovation, burdock has also long been used as a folk medicine.


Burdock’s main pharmacological action is to promote the elimination of toxins. Burdock has a long history of use in folk medicine as a blood purifier, diaphoretic (increases sweating) and diuretic.

Researchers have attributed the plant’s root to stimulating bile production and regenerating liver cells. Another burdock benefit is it's ability to reduce excessive uric acid levels in the blood and deter the formation of monosodium urate crystals, two characteristics of “rich man’s disease,” or gout. At one time, burdock was also considered a treatment for cancer, catarrh and syphilis. And, if that wasn’t enough, the herb is also said to be an aphrodisiac.

Burdock Root Use in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Burdock Root Use in Traditional Chinese Medicine

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the seeds are known as Niu Bang Zi and are used for various ailments. First, Niu Bang Zi expels wind-heat that accompanies the following illnesses, diseases and disorders:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Arthritis, rheumatism
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Various gastrointestinal disorders

These effects are likely due to more than a dozen different polyacetylene compounds, several of which have been proven to possess antibacterial and antifungal properties. The root also contains inulin, which helps to regulate inflammatory responses initiated by the immune system. The inulin in burdock root has also been recognized as a prebiotic which can be helpful for digestion.

What Are the Benefits of Burdock?

In addition, phytosterols in the plant are believed to stimulate natural hair growth. An extract obtained from the root, known as Bur oil, is sold in Europe as a natural remedy for scalp conditions and hair loss.

For the home herbalist, a simple tea made from dried leaves is an effective wash for treating various skin conditions, including acne, eczema, psoriasis, and athlete’s foot. Drinking the tea of the root is also helpful for these skin conditions. Burdock is considered a great liver detoxifier. It also has laxative, astringent and lymphatic properties.

While burdock root features some incredible potential health benefits, you can’t miss out on the potential culinary applications of this burred wonder.

  • Burdock Flower
  • Burdock Plant


Many are surprised to learn that burdock is an edible food, cooked or raw.

The Iroquois harvested and dried the roots to serve as a food source in winter. In Japan, young burdock taproots are as commonplace as potatoes are in the West. The classic Japanese dish Kinpira gobo features braised burdock taproots combined with carrots. The roots are also added to miso soups, rice dishes, sushi and stir-fries.

The young leaves and flowers can be steamed as a vegetable or added raw to salads. While the root imparts a sweet and pungent flavor, the leaves and flowers taste very similar to one of its botanical cousins—the artichoke.


If you want to incorporate burdock into your teas, wellness routines or product lines, check out our wholesale burdock page. You can explore a variety of formats that we sell and learn more about this famous herb.

Disclaimer: Information and statements about the products on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using any herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.