Health Benefits of Burdock
Burdock is actually the common name of a genus of flowering perennials, whose scientific name is Arctium. The easiest way to describe burdock is as the small burrs that often get stuck on your trousers or socks when walking in a forest. Those small hooking burrs come from the burdock plant, whose plants, leaves, and stems actually have significant value as herbal or alternative remedies. The root of burdock is perhaps the most valued, as it can be eaten in large quantities as a root vegetable, and is very rich in important fibers. The dried leaves and seeds can also be used to extract burr oil, which has a wide range of medicinal uses.
The first real use of burdock is recorded in the medieval period, but it is also known in Chinese herbal medicine, and likely dates back considerably further. There are a number of ways to prepare burdock as either a food or an herbal medicine, making it highly sought after around the world, as several species have spread globally from the Old World. Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the impressive health benefits of burdock.
Blood Pressure: One of the aspects of burdock that doesn’t get enough attention is its impressive ability to lower blood pressure. The plant’s high concentration of potassium, a vasodilator, helps to relieve tension within the cardiovascular system by relaxing the blood vessels and arteries, thereby helping to prevent atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
Digestive Issues: The most well-known use of burdock is as a digestive aid for many different reasons. Firstly, the high concentration of fibers in burdock help to stimulate the digestive system and move food smoothly through the bowels, relieving constipation and preventing bloating, cramping, and ulcers. Inulin, a particular type of fiber found in burdock, is able to reduce inflammation in the gut and eliminate many types of harmful bacteria that can cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems.
Diabetes: Although all types of fiber are able to help regulate the balance of insulin and glucose in the body, inulin is particularly effective and has been directly connected to reducing the development and severity of diabetes and diabetes-related symptoms. The significant levels of insulin in burdock can also lower overall blood cholesterol by eliminating it from the body, thereby further protecting your cardiovascular system.
Detoxify the Liver: The same chemicals that give burdock its bitter taste stimulate bile production and digestive juices in the gut, which helps the liver more rapidly process toxins and flush them from the system. Clearing toxins from the blood is one of the main purposes of the liver, and burdock’s organic compounds and components have been directly linked to improving this function.
Skin Health: One of the most common side effects of constipation, high toxicity in the blood, or poor dietary habits is skin inflammation, manifesting as spots, pimples, acne, rashes, or discoloration. Many herbalists recommend burdock root supplements and herbs for the treatment of skin conditions, as this powerful herb can solve the underlying problems of toxicity or constipation in a fast and efficient way, leading to clearer, healthier skin.
Hormonal Balance: Having a hormonal disorder can be destructive and difficult for your life. To avoid that, you want to add foods and herbs that can regulate hormonal activity in the body. Burdock is able to help the liver metabolize certain hormones, like estrogen, which can help to rebalance the body’s hormonal levels to normalcy. Excess estrogen is the cause of many dangerous or even deadly hormonal disorders, so adding some burdock root to your weekly diet is never a bad idea!
Immune Health: The significant levels of vitamin C and vitamin E, both of which act as antioxidants in the body to eliminate free radicals, mean that burdock is a major booster to our immune system function. These antioxidants have been linked to preventing infections, lowering one’s risk of cancer, and generally supporting proper growth, development, and repair of the body’s cells and tissues.
A Final Word of Warning: Although this is somewhat rare, there are limited allergies to burdock, so be sure to consult a doctor before adding it to your health regimen. Also, for those people using potassium-sparing diuretic therapy, eating too much burdock (with its significant levels of potassium) may aggravate the system and result in potassium toxicity. As always, everything should be consumed in moderation.