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THE HERBAL CORNER - Burdock
(Arctium minus)
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Natural Diuretic, Appetite Stimulant Inflammation Fighter & More!

Burdock, a member of the thistle family, originally grew in Europe and northern Asia. This biennial plant is now widespread throughout North America. It is a stout, common weed with many spreading branches, and grows to a height of three to four feet.

During the Middle Ages, English herbalists preferred Burdock root to sarsaparilla for the treatment of boils, scurvy, and rheumatism. Native American healers were quite fond of Burdock as a medicinal plant. American herbalists have used the roots and seeds as a blood purifier and pain reliever for more than two centuries.

Both the root and leaves are used in herbal remedies, but most recipes call for the root. Burdock is valued mainly as a treatment for arthritis, gout, and other inflammatory conditions. It is thought to help gout and rheumatism by stimulating the liver. Burdock is used as a diuretic, and it promotes perspiration, which make it effective in treating gout. Burdock stimulates the appetite, so modern experts recommend it for anorexia nervosa. Burdock has been used by herbalists worldwide to treat a variety of illnesses, including pneumonia, abscesses, acne, fever, dandruff, and throat infections, as well as inflammation. However, the evidence that burdock is effective in treating gout, arthritis, and skin diseases is mostly anecdotal.

Scientific research done nearly 50 years ago showed that burdock root has some antibiotic properties. There is also evidence that it is effective in treating boils. Some people even claim that Burdock root is helpful for diabetes; however, the research on diabetes is not clear-cut. In one study, Burdock lowered blood sugar; in another study, Burdock actually made the symptoms of diabetes worse in animals.

A recent study showed that Burdock blocked dangerous chemicals from causing damage to cells, suggesting the possibility that Burdock may help decrease the risk of developing cancer from toxic chemicals.

Burdock contains active compounds called sesquiterpene lactones. It contains a high percentage of a carbohydrate called inulin (or fructosan). It also contains a volatile oil, plant sterols, tannins, and fatty oil. Experts do not know for sure which active ingredients in burdock root are responsible for its healing properties.

Burdock products are made from fresh or dried roots or leaves. You can usually buy it as dried root powder, a decoction, a tincture, or a fluid extract. There are no known risks associated with using burdock. However, it may cause slight irritation of the skin when handled. In any case, it is best to avoid taking excessive amounts of Burdock (especially Burdock root) because experts have yet to completely research the toxicity of this plant. It is also not recommended for use by children or by women who are pregnant or nursing.

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Please note: the information contained herein has been compiled from various sources. The above statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. We make no claims, either expressed or implied, that any treatments mentioned in this newsletter will cure disease, replace prescription medication, or supersede sound medical advice.

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