I loooooove Burdock root. It is a wonderful nourishing food and medicine, and it grows nearly everywhere! Chances are you have it growing in your very own yard. Burdock has large green leaves that grow very close to the ground. They put out little spikey balls that attach to clothing, pets and anything that brushes it. These are the “burs” and “dock” traditionally meant herb. Hence the herb got it’s name name burdock. While the leaves and the burs are what make it recognizable, it is the root I will be discussing here today!
As you can see from the picture above, the root of Burdock is long and slender, with a dark brown outside and tan inside. It looks and feels much like a carrot. Because it is the root we are harvesting, it is most medicinal in the fall. Plants spend all of their energies growing leaves and flowers through spring and summer, but in the fall the plant is storing energy and food in the root, to last through winter. So this is when we harvest it! Make sure you harvest a first year plant, one that does not have seeds. It can be challenging to harvest, as some portions of the root can grow quite long and you may have to dig deeper.
Once you have a root, you can eat it fresh or you can dry it for use in teas, decoctions, broths and other medicines. To dry it, dice the burdock leaving the skin on and set in a dehydrator for 24 hrs or until completely dry. Store in an air-tight container for 1-2 years. I usually buy my dried burdock from Mountain Rose Herbs, and I eat my fresh Burdock when I have it. I love it in stir-fries, roasted vegetables, soups and in this yummy Kinpira Stew. It is also yummy diced and cooked in a pot with brown rice!
So why would anyone want to eat this earthy root vegetable? First off, Burdock is a nourishing tonic that has been used by herbalists and asian cultures for thousands of years. It is known to be a blood purifier, a skin clearer, and tonic to the kidneys, liver, lymph glands, lungs, uterus, stomach and joints. It is a carminative, aphrodisiac, anti-tumor, and anti-rheumatic among many other things. Its vitamin and mineral content is outstanding, containing sufficient amounts of chromium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc, carotenes, vitamin A, protein and fiber.
Burdock root can be used as an ally in many conditions. Traditionally it has been used for arthritis, indigestion, eczema, dandruff, heartburn, irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, candida overgrowth, irritable bowel syndrome, leaky-gut syndrome, and much more. I myself love it for its overall tonic effect, and have used it successfully for healthy skin and hair. Burdock root even makes an appearance in R.P. Apothecary’s best selling Harmonize facial toner!
In most cases, the Burdock tincture is a wonderful choice to use medicinally. Tincturing the root makes it easy to become assimilated into the bloodstream. For things like eczema and psoriasis, a salve would be most healing. Personally I find that incorporating it into the diet is the easiest and most enjoyable way to reap the many benefits of Burdock!
How do you use Burdock root?