We know potato as poor man’s food. But do you know the food which is known as Poor-Man’s Potato? This once neglected useless weed is today found in labs for cancer research. Yes, we are discussing about Burdock which is also known by Poor-man’s potato or Beggar’s button or Great Bur or Fox Coat. While Japanese have been eating this food for 3000 years, it were the Chinese who recognized use of Bordock for natural herbal remedies. Its use as herbal medicine is documented in Bencao gangmu, earliest Traditional Chinese medicine compendium.
Niubang as it is known in Chinese is a weed growing in Asia and Europe. If you find some prickly seeds sticking to your clothes in countryside, look back these are prickly heads of Burdock. This is nature’s way of dispersing its seeds through animal fur. Burdock plant is distinguished through these prickly heads of purple burdock flowers.
Root of Burdock plant is edible and cultivated as root vegetable. In Japan, Burdock root is eaten for its nourishment and often cooked with brown rice flavored by soy sauce, sesame and other traditional flavors. The cooked root is sweet and gummy texture, while it offers several medicinal and health benefits. Some other forms in which it is used include Burdock herbal tea or Burdock herbal decoction, Burdock oil, dried burdock root powder, tincture or extract of Burdock root. While Burdock root is most commonly used part of plant, other parts like leaves, steam, seed and burrs are also used for various herbal remedies. Burdock seeds or Niupangzi are also used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine. Dandelion and burdock juice forms part of popular soft drink in UK often compared with root beer.
Nutritional Value of Burdock Root
Burdock root is good source of nutrients to body. A 100 gm serving of Burdock root offers dietary fibers, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Manganese over 10% of daily dietary needs. While it contains other proteins, Vitamin B, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Calcium, Iron , Potassium, Phosphorus, Copper, Zinc and Selenium in small quantities. Health benefits of Burdock Root can be attributed to presence of phytonutrients present. Burdock root has presents of several flavonoids, phenols and phytosterols which has medicinal value.
Health Benefits of Burdock Root
Burdock root has been traditionally used for natural remedies of skin diseases, liver and kidney disorders, as blood tonic and detoxifying agent. It is believed to have healing properties for number of ailments including common cold, sore throat, gout, ulcers, acnes, psoriasis, eczema and others. Homeopathy also makes used of Burdock root extract in some medicinal preparations.
Benefits of Burdock root for skin
Burdock root benefits skin in various ways. Body uses skin to excrete various toxins out of the body. Burdock root has nutrients which help in detoxification of body. It has dietary fibers which keeps digestive tract healthy and removes toxins from body. Burdock root contains polyacetylenes and other phytochemicals which have anti-microbial properties. Burdock root prevents skin from bacterial and fungal infections.
Burdock root tea is considered good for skin complexion. Boiled and mashed burdock leaves are applied over acne for treating them. Burdock leaves and Burdock root tea are also used in treating skin disorders like acne, sore, eczema and psoriasis. It is because of these health benefits that today some herbal moisturizing cream formulation for dry and itchy skin contains burdock root extract.
Herbal treatment for Scalp problems
Burdock root oil and burdock root extract is natural cure for various scalp problems. Burdock root oil applied regularly to scalp and hair is considered to improve hair strength and keep scalp healthy. Some studies have found that burdock root oil contains phytosterols and Omega fatty acids which are good for scalp and hair.
Burdock root oil also provides necessary nutrients for growth of hair roots and scalp skin. Many use Burdock oil to prevent dandruff, prevent hair loss and reduce scalp irritation.
Burdock oil as home remedies for longer eyelashes
Burdock oil is considered as home remedy for longer eyelashes. Applying burdock oil to eyelashes keeps them healthy. It acts as moisturizers, keep roots of eyelashes healthy and promote their growth. Organic burdock oil should be preferred to avoid any irritation of eyes from external chemicals in burdock oil.
Burdock for treating Burns
Pain and infection are common problem in burn injuries. Burdock leaves are considered good for pain treatment and speedy recovery of burn injury. Though scientific evidence is lacking in this regards, burdock leaves do prevent growth of microbes and has a moisturizing effect to the skin.
Anti-microbial property of burdock
Burdock has been traditionally used in treatment of bacterial, fungal and viral infections like measles, cold, sore throat. Phytochemicals in Burdock leaves and root offers these anti-microbial properties. Drinking burdock root tea or taking burdock root supplements is often considered home remedy for protecting from microbial infection.
Burdock root for gastro intestinal problems
Inulin is one of the dietary fibers present in Burdock root which helps in treating constipation. It is prebiotic in nature thus helps in growth of good bacteria in intestine which helps digestion. Inulin is mild laxative in nature and may cause excessive flatulence and bloating. Research has confirmed benefits of burdock root on gastro intestinal problems.
Burdock root regulate blood sugar
Burdock root is good source of dietary fibers and mainly inulin. These dietary fibers slows down digestion of sugar in body and is thus helpful for weight loss diet and diabetes. This hypoglycemic effect of burdock root has been confirmed in some animal test. Further certain phytosterols have been identified in burdock root which offers hypoglycemic effect.
Anti Cancer Benefits of Burdock
Once considered useless weed, today burdock has provided new chemicals with promise in treatment of cancers. Burdock root has found chemicals with cancer curing properties. Burdock root prevents growth of cancer cells. Arctigenin is chemical found in burdock root which has potential to cure cancerous tumors. A Upstate Medical University study has also found anticancer constituent Lappaol in burdock plant.
Diuretic properties of Burdock root
Burdock root tea is good way of enjoying diuretic properties of Burdock root. It helps in removal of water from body, thus increases urination and sweating. It is natural way of removing toxins from body. Further this imparts moisturizing effect to skin. However burdock should be avoided in event of dehydration situations like diarrhea. Increase in sweating also helps in treating fever.
Burdock detoxifies body
Burdock is natural herb for removal of toxins from body. It helps in removal of toxins in various ways, through aiding removal of toxins along with digestive fibers, increasing urination, increasing sweats. It is because of this detoxifying effect, it helps treat skin conditions like acne. Burdock root tea or Burdock juice is good way of flushing impurities out of body. It has been traditionally considered as blood purifier because of this health benefit.
Burdock has antioxidant properties
Antioxidants are very popular today as their benefits are linked to cardio vascular health and health of internal organs. Burdock helps in removal of free radicals which cause damage to body cells. Brazilian Campinas university study has confirmed antioxidant property of burdock. Another research published in Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society discusses anti-oxidant nature of burdock root. It is because of this antioxdiant property including burdock root vegetable as part of diet is considered good for heart.
Anti-inflammatory property of Burdock
Burdock root has anti inflammatory property. This helps in treatment of cold, swelling, joint pain, arthritis, gout. Burdock root tea has been used as folk remedy for treatment of Gout. It helps in reducing swelling and pain in joints.
Burdock root for healthy liver
Liver is important organ of body and subject to toxins and free radicals. Burdock root, with its detoxifying property along with anti oxidant nature, helps protect liver. It is traditionally considered herbal cure for hepatitis It is also considered good in nullifying impact of alcohol on liver.
Burdock root for women health
Burdock root helps in reducing painful periods. It keeps digestive tract clean and prevents common gastrointestinal problems associated with menstruation. Drinking burdock root tea is good way of reducing pain and other premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Burdock root enhance sexual activity
Traditionally Burdock root has been considered as aphrodisiac. Chinese medicine use it for treating impotence and sterility. Native Americans are believed to use burdock root herbal preparation for reducing painful labor. This sexual drive enhancing property can be attributed to certain Phytosterols which resemble human hormone or stimulates secretion of human sex hormones. A study has confirmed this traditional use of burdock root in increasing sexual health.
Side Effects of Burdock Root
While burdock root is safe for consumption as food, it offers several medicinal properties which may interact with other situation or medicines. It may interfere with iron absorption and anti-inflammatory or diabetic medications.
Pregnant or nursing mothers can avoid consumption of burdock. It contains various phytochemicals which may cause allergies in some people. Caution is necessary while consuming as burdock root supplements like burdock root pills or burdock root capsules. Roots of burdock resemble to some of other dangerous herb like belladonna. Hence caution is necessary while purchasing from new sources.
Where can I get burdock root?
Look for local Asian food stores. Burdock root powder and other supplements are available online these days.
Culinary uses of Burdock root
Burdock root can be eaten raw or cooked. Easiest way to eat Burdock is to wash, peel the outer skin and add cuts to salad. Boiling often makes this root soft and sweet. In Japanese cooking, Burdock root is used in soups, side dishes and appetizers. Cooked burdock root slices tastes great with some butter, salt and pepper. Burdock chips just like potato chips or fries makes a tasty snack. Also try some salads with carrots, spring onions, mushrooms and pepper.
How to make burdock tea?
Burdock tea benefits are same as most of health benefits of burdock root we discussed above. This herbal burdock tea can be made from burdock leaves and root. Dandelion root is often added while making this tea. To make burdock tea, just add freshly cut, washed burdock root pieces to water. Allow it to boil and simmer for quarter hour. Strain the liquid and drink this for health benefits. Solid sieved can also be applied to skin. If fresh burdock root is not available, you may boil dried burdock root or burdock root powder to make tea.
How to make Burdock Juice?
Blend freshly cut burdock root along with small ginger piece, three small apples, some green spinach. Blend well. You may drink this juice or can sieve this juice. You may add some lemon juice and honey for taste. This burdock root juice is good way to enjoy health benefits of burdock root and is natural remedy for various diseases.
Other names of Burdock
Arctium lappa is scientific name of Burdock. It is also known in various languages as Bardana, Clotbur, Gobo, Personata, Thorny Burr, Cocklebur, Glouteron, Happy Major, Harebur, Herbe aux Teigneux, Lappa, Niu Bang Zi, Orelha-de-gigante, Philanthropium or Rhubarbe du Diable.Image Credits: Flickr - Gina Pina, Flickr - Smoobs, Flickr - Ayustety