Herbal Highlight: Burdock

Burdock Free Stock Photo - Public Domain Pictures

Arctium Lappa and Arctium Minus

Parts Used:  Young Stalks, Young Leaf Stem, Root

**We are not doctors, this is not medical advice, we do not suggest that you follow any of the folkways mentioned in this article.  This is for the preservation of family historic folkways and nothing more.  To utilize any of these is to your own risk and peril**

The root and leaf are the preferred parts of the burdock plant used by my ancestors.  Mamaw and Aunt Annie (great grandmother and great aunt) deemed this herb to be one of the “best blood tonics” available.  

What did they mean by blood tonic? They called it the “best blood tonic,” by which they meant it served as a purifying agent to the blood.  Mamaw also wrote the following regarding this wild herb: “Burdock will cool a fever, dry up sores, and draw out a snake bite.”  The last one of those latter three claims seems quite fantastical doesn’t it? Could it be?   

What do we know of Burdock from our own experience?  

Burdock seems to act as an anti-inflammatory, an excretory system stimulant (detox), a diaphoretic (fever reducer), and as an astringent.  Mamaw may not have known why burdock would “draw out a snake bite,” which I sincerely doubt that in a case of a true (vs dry) strike that it would.  What she had observed though in its ability to “dry up sores” and cleanse the blood is clear evidence of its cooling, drying, and astringent qualities. Burdock is widely accepted today as a “detox” herb and is included in such things as our friend Allison’s facial serum, our favorite Shungite gel, and many herbal creams designed to treat psoriasis, eczema, and the like.  

Now, onto the herbal ways.

Burdock Root Wash For Dry Skin  

1 ounce burdock root

1 pint water

Boil til reduced by half, allow to cool and use this as a wash for “sores”.  

Burdock Leaf Poultice

Bruise and muddle a handful of burdock leaves

Place poultice onto bruises, inflammations, or gout and wrap with linen.

Burdock Root and Salt Poultice (for bites)  **do not try this**

1 root thoroughly mashed with a generous bit of salt

Lay this on the site of a bite to “draw it out”

Burdock Root Tea Blend  (for the stones)

1 tsp Burdock Root, dry

1 tsp Dandelion root, dry

1 tsp Mint, dry

12 ounces water, boiling

Pour boiling water over dry herbs and allow to steep for 25 minutes prior to straining and serving with a thick slice of lemon and 2 tbsp honey