For the origin of Velco, you have the seeds of this plant to thank.

After taking a stroll in 1948, a Swiss man (George de Mestral) noticed how the burdock seeds were attached to his pants and the dog’s fur. He analyzed their structure under a microscope and copied nature’s design, becoming filthy rich as a result. The Big Idea tells this story.

That’s why the word for Velcro and the root are identical in some languages (e.g. čičak in Serbian and Croatian).

Mitoku brand of sasagaki gobo dried burdock

Most people buy it dried, either as chips or shreds like these. How to make them ready for eating only requires 5 to 10 minutes of soaking in warm water.

Gobo is the Japanese name for it, where it’s mostly used for cooking. Yes, gobo is the same as burdock.

The meaning of burdock root in Hindi cultures is more than just culinary. The Ayurvedic Indian name for it is jangli kuth and it’s used to make “mother tinctures,” which are alcoholic extracts of plants.

It’s also known as niúbàng, the Chinese name. The oil extract is popular in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

In English, it’s often called greater burdock. Other names for it include beggar’s buttons, happy major, thorny burr, and lappa which is derived from its scientific name, Arctium lappa.

Whatever you want to call it, what is burdock root good for?

Aside from being edible, some alternative medicine followers claim alleged magical healing properties, like being good for liver cleansing, blood detox, acne, hair loss, libido, and a laundry list of other uses. Most of these claims are myths, but some health benefits do seem to be possible based on the science.

We will review them all, but first you have to understand what this plant is…

What is burdock root?

size of burdock leaf

He’s a big guy, but the leaf is even bigger! credit: By Nwbeeson [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Of the same family as daisies and sunflowers, what it looks like above the ground is something out of the dinosaur age; massive fuzzy rhubarb-like leaves, accented by alien-looking purple flowers atop their stalks.

The origin of the burdock plant is believed to be Asia or Europe, but today it grows through much of the northern hemisphere, including the United States (1).

The flowers are edible and taste a lot like artichokes, which it is related to. Though the part of the plant which is most prized – both for cooking and traditional medicine – is the part that grows underground.

Wild burdock roots are long, typically 2 to 3 feet in length when harvested from a full grown plant. They look similar to a carrot, albeit without the orange. These rhizomes are white on the inside and brown on the outside. Their nutritional value is why they have been consumed as food throughout the generations.

Are burdock leaves edible? Yes, but no one eats them because they taste so bitter.

Raw Burdock Root Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 root (156g)
Calories 112
Calories From Fat 2
% Daily Value* % Daily Value
Total Fat 0.2g 0% Vitamin A 0%
Trans Fat 0g Vitamin B6 0.37mg 20%
Sodium 8mg 0% Vitamin C 4.7mg 7%
Total Carbs. 27g 9% Calcium 64mg 6%
Fiber 5g 20% Iron 1.25mg 6%
Protein 2.4g 4% Magnesium 59mg 14%
*Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
Data from USDA National Nutrient Database, version 28 (2)

In addition to those, it has respectable amounts of the minerals potassium and zinc, and the B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate. With low fat and reasonable calories, gobo is good for you.

What does it taste like?

That depends how you consume it. Eating wild burdock root fresh will have a much different taste than dried powder supplements, though both will contain the same phytonutrients.

After being thoroughly rinsed with a good scrub, when you bite into this fibrous raw root, it will evoke an earthy yet sweet flavor, reminiscent of a lotus root. Since much of the flavor is in the skin and outer flesh, peeling it is not advised. The taste is subtle enough to absorb the sauces and stews it’s cooked in.

One of the reasons the Japanese love it so much is because it can act as a blank slate for their culinary creations.

You may or may not find it for sale at Whole Foods. A trip to an Asian grocery store may be required.

Where to buy gobo in the supplemental form will be places like GNC and specialty retailers like Mountain Rose Herbs and Neal’s Yard. The latter two sell powder and it doesn’t taste bad, even when it’s just diluted in water.

Can you eat burdock root raw?

Japanese gobo food

Kinpira gobo, the fried root with carrots, is served as an appetizer. credit: By ayustety from Tokyo [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Yes. Consuming it uncooked is how to use it for most traditional health uses, though as a food, boiling or roasting is typically how to eat it.

In Europe, cooking it was popular during the Middle Ages, but not so much now.

Today, Japanese cuisine continues to use burdock extensively. Their recipe of kinpira gobo is a stir fry which uses it as the starring ingredient, along with carrots and soy sauce.

Fermented or pickled burdock root is another popular way how to prepare them. It allows for storing long term, without going bad.

Without jarring or canning, the root will expire in a time frame similar to carrots – lasting up to 1 month when refrigerated. You can freeze burdock root indefinitely, though its taste will deteriorate over time. Just like how other frozen starches and carbs become freezer burned.

Drinking it

Fentimans burdock dandelion beer bottle

In England, you can buy non-alcoholic burdock beer, made with ginger and dandelion root. credit: By Lee Haywood from Nottingham [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

You can juice burdock raw and its alkalizing effect makes it a superfood. This trend is just starting to catch on in America. Expect it to be offered at more juiceries in the future.

Drinking dandelion and burdock beer is another modern adaption, but it’s hinged on history. According to the British Herbal Medicine Association, the Europeans were using it as a bittering agent in beer before hops (3).

Making a herbal tea is by far the most popular way to use it as a drink. Often it will be blended with licorice, milk thistle, chickweed, red clover, echinacea, or vitex fruit. We will discuss how these teas are used as purported remedies in a moment.

Side effects

In medical literature, the following possible adverse reactions have been reported:

  • Upset stomach
  • Loose stools or diarrhea
  • Lowering of blood sugar
  • Reduced blood clotting
  • Skin irritation
  • Headaches/worsening of migraines
  • Unknown pregnancy safety

Given that gobo is a rich source of fiber, eating too much of the root may cause abdominal pain or possibly even constipation for those with slower digestive systems (e.g. gastroparesis, intestinal motility disorder).

While some sources report that Arctium lappa root is laxative or diuretic, this side effect may simply be due to its high fiber content and the effect that could have on people who otherwise don’t consume much. For the same reason, gas and bloating may occur. In a clinical trial evaluating burdock root tea for joint pain, being a laxative or causing flatulence were not reported side effects (4).

Drug interactions with diabetes medicine are also speculative, as they are based on animal studies which found it to lower blood sugar (5) (6).

As with any food, an allergy is possible. An allergic reaction to burdock root appears to be the cause of dermatitis (skin irritation) for some who eat it.

Long term use as a food appears to be completely safe, but it has not been specifically studied during pregnancy or with women who are breastfeeding/nursing. For that reason, it can’t be claimed to be safe for pregnant women with certainty.

Harvesting the wild gobo root can be risky, because it closely resembles the Atropa belladonna, which is more commonly known as poisonous belladonna or deadly nightshade.

Is burdock root safe for dogs?

puppy sitting in dog food dishGiven the fact that many people these days will prepare nutritious meals for their K9 and feline friends on occassion, this too is an important safety concern.

Dogs can eat burdock root, as there is nothing poisonous or toxic about (quite different than grapes which can kill them). Though keep in mind they are carnivores and their bodies are not designed for digesting raw vegetables like us humans can. If you choose to feed them to your dog, only small cooked amounts are recommended.

Even though they are safe for dogs to eat, they can still kill them.

Both cooked and raw gobo roots are a major choking hazard. They can easily get stuck in the dog’s throat, so make sure you finely chop it beforehand. Better yet, boil for 20 minutes to make a liquid decoction. That would be the safest way.

The truth about health claims

You can search under its common and scientific name on the most extensive database of vetted medical literature, PubMed, and what do you get?

5 clinical trials total, one for each of the following topics:

  • pancreatic cancer (7)
  • knee osteoarthritis (4)
  • acne vulgaris (8)
  • dry skin relief (including from eczema) (9)
  • anti-aging of the skin (10)

1. The cancer research

Out of all trials, this is probably the most noteworthy because it wasn’t just done for academic curiosity.

No, this trial was for compound GBS-01, a proprietary extract from the plant which a Japanese pharma company is investigating for advanced pancreatic cancer treatment (7).

burdock fruit

Technically these are fruits, but the average Joe would just call these the seed pods of a weed.

However the compound they tested on 15 patients was sourced from the fruit, not the root.

The burdock fruits are the flower pods which produce the seeds. Outside of science, no one calls them fruits.

Their theory is that the arctigenin compound might have anti-tumor activity by weakening the tolerance of cancer cells to glucose deprivation.

Different oral dosages ranging from 3 to 12 grams of the extract were tested. They claim that in TCM, 12 grams is “usually prescribed” as the amount of the fruit to take. Their findings were:

“Of the 15 patients, 1 showed confirmed partial response and 4 patients had stable disease. The median progression-free and overall survival of the patients were 1.1 and 5.7 months, respectively.”

Those results were published back in 2016 and they stated that a multicenter phase II trial is underway.

Kracie Pharmaceuticals is not pursuing arctigenin as a stand-alone therapy, but as a combination:

  • The chemo drug Gemcitabine works against cancer cells in oxygen and glucose-rich environments.
  • They believe their burdock extract (GBS-01) “has the ability to eliminate the tolerance of cancer cells to nutrient starvation.”

They believe a combination of the two might be a better therapy for pancreatic cancer. Several more clinical trials are needed to find out whether or not this theory is true.

What is arctigenin?

chemical structure of arctigenin moleculeThis lignan they used was extracted from the flowers, but it’s also found in other parts of the Arctium lappa, including the leaves (11) (12). The seeds (which are in the fruits) are said to contain much higher lignan content than the rhizomes (13):

“…only trace amounts of lignans were found in burdock roots”

How much of this specific lignin there is in the roots is unclear. For the process of isolating pure arctigenin, it must be easier for them to use other parts rather than the roots.

Anything else on cancer?

Traditional Chinese Medicine has used the plant as a purported anti-inflammatory treatment for colds, cough, and throat swelling. Tumors aren’t mentioned (14).

The history of using it for cancer research is new. So far scientists have studied it for prostate (15), ovary, lymphoma, malignant melanoma, and breast cancers in lab experiments (16).

Can burdock root cure cancer? No! That’s what you hear some sensationalized alt med websites claiming and they’re lying. The clinical research is far too preliminary and for at least some cancers, there is evidence it might not work at all!

The chart below comes from Fasa University of Medical Sciences (17). They tested it in the lab against K562, which is a line of human leukemia (18). Below is how the A. lappa performed…

IC50 for burdock root on cancer proliferation

IC50 values = amount needed for a 50% reduction in cancer cell proliferation.

The highest bars are not the best, but the worst performing, because more is needed. For gobo “400 µg/mL or greater” was said to be needed, as it clearly did not work against the leukemia cells.

Verdict?

The root is not a treatment for cancer. There is only preliminary research that a specific compound derived from the plant – arctigenin – might have some anti-cancer effects, but that is not proven.

2. Uses for skin

Cosmetic uses of this plant seem to be popular.

In the clinical trial, it was wrinkle volume and crow’s feet that were tested using burdock seed extract (9):

  • 66 men and women participated who were 20 to 65 years old.
  • Each person randomly received a cream containing the root, or a placebo version.
  • They were instructed to apply 1 packet (2 gram dosage) per day to the right side of their face and left forearm.
  • Parameters such as skin hydration and sebum levels were measured on days 1, 15, and 29 of treatment.

The claimed it “will demonstrate the efficacy and safety” but the results still haven’t been published, even though that protocol was filed years ago (19).

The acne study is a similar story. 32 people completed it and the conclusion claimed was:

“Lappa has shown positive effects in the treatment of acne especially of inflammatory type.”

Despite that, results still haven’t been published years later (20). Still, you hear of people using burdock root and yellow dock for acne.

Contradictory to those claims, several oriental herb extracts were tested in the lab against P. acnes bacteria. That’s not a root cause of pimples, but it can exasperate their redness and swelling. Research didn’t find gobo to be effective against P. acnes (21).

process of woman agingThe German study about the signs of aging skin was the oldest and it used the fruit extract (22). They claimed the dermal extracellular matrix was “significantly improved” and the appearance of wrinkles was reduced, but that was only on trial and it wasn’t using the root.

For rosacea, which is a common use, there is no data published.

In short, none of the burdock root benefits for skin are supported by clinical validation. However, there are several non-clinical pieces which might support it:

  • A pilot study tested Amish burn victims in Ohio using burdock leaf dressings (23). None of the burns became infected, healing time was less than two weeks, and there was reduced pain during bandage changes,
  • Arctiin, which is another unique compound in the plant, was found to reduce damage from ultraviolet light (UV-B) by “by changing microRNA (miRNA) expression profiles” of the cultured human cells (24). If true, that could be a valid reason why burdock root oil for skin is beneficial. If used daily, it might reduce premature aging from sun exposure.
  • Antioxidants in the root, such as the caffeoylquinic acid derivatives, may be good for your skin (25) (26).
  • With dermatitis, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects were observed with burdock root extract in the cells of mice (27). The exact mechanism of how it works was identified, but it’s quite technical (IL-4 and IL-5 was inhibited by downregulating MAPKs and activation of NF-KB). Perhaps this chart is easier to understand…
graph showing decrease of inflammation parameter

ALBE = extract of burdock. As the dosage went up, more of the enzyme ß-hexosaminidase was released… a good thing.

Verdict?

As with most cosmetic products, there is circumstantial evidence but not proof. Using it for skin care may not help, but it probably won’t hurt either.

3. Arthritis and joint pain

The clinical study tested it as an herbal medicine for arthritis in knee (4). Not as a stand-along remedy, but in addition to acetaminophen (Tylenol) twice daily and glucosamine 500 mg once daily.

  • 36 patients participated (26 women and 10 men) who were 50 to 70 years old.
  • One group drank a burdock tea 3x daily as a dosage for their knee osteoarthritis (OA).
  • Another group drank a placebo tea 3x daily.
  • Regimen was taken for 42 days.

Based on the blood work, the results were “significantly decreased” levels of multiple inflammatory markers:

  • interleukin-6 (IL-6)
  • high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP)
  • malondialdehyde

Beneficial increases were seen in antioxidant parameters:

  • total antioxidants capacity (TAC)
  • superoxide dismutase (SOD)
  • glutathione peroxidase (GPX)

Their conclusion was that the tea helped their osteoarthritis.

Unrelated to this, red clover and burdock root tea for lupus has been floated as a [unproven] relief remedy in some naturopathic circles. To be clear, that disease has zero research in relation to this plant, but it’s interesting to note that lupus causes chronic inflammation throughout the body. Not just joint pain, but also inflammation of vital organs, like the kidneys and lungs.

Other purported uses

You’ve just reviewed all the clinical trials and as you see, there isn’t much. For all the other health benefits which people claim, is there any other evidence to support their possibility?

Here’s a quick rundown of what burdock root is used for in traditional/alternative medicine and what scientific evidence – if any – we can dig up that might be related.

4. Liver

Almost every blogger out there sounds the same. They all say burdock root is good for liver, but present little to no evidence of its “cleansing” or “detoxing” abilities.

The late Dr. Sebi was a controversial Honduran herbalist. His client list was said to included celeb like Michael Jackson, John Travolta, and Steven Seagal (28). Sebi supposedly used this ingredient as part of his purported detoxifying cleanses, which may be one of the reasons so many talk about using it for the liver.

healthy vs. sick liver tissue

Top is normal liver tissue, bottom is sick liver tissue which has been stained to highlight acetaminophen-induced toxicity. Image credit: Organovo

Remember, humans haven’t been studied for this, but some animal studies do exist:

  • In mice, it appeared to help protect the liver damage caused by acetaminophen (Tylenol) and carbon tetrachloride (29).
  • In rats, high amounts of ethanol (alcohol) were given as well as carbon tetrachloride (30). There seemed to be less damage when it was given:

“The hepatoprotective mechanism of A. lappa could be attributed, at least in part, to its antioxidative activity, which decreases the oxidative stress of hepatocytes, or to other unknown protective mechanism(s).”

Several similar animal and cultured cell models have been conducted with similar results (31) (32) (33). Even liver damage caused by a toxic heavy metals (cadmium) appeared to be helped during a 56 day rat test (34).

These don’t necessarily support burdock being a liver cleansing agent. Rather, that it might help the liver stay healthy and protect itself when exposed to poisons and toxins. That’s different than detox, which is what many claim. Without human clinical trials, it’s unknown if any of these same benefits happen in us.

5. Hair benefits

Some herbalists make shampoos and liquids with the root oil, in hopes that it helps hair growth.

When it comes to that topic, there is only relevant scientific paper (35).

South Korean scientists found that the arctiin in the plant appeared to support human hair dermal papilla cells (HHDPCs). When these cultured cells were pre-treated with the arctiin concentrate, they found it reduced the cell death and oxidative stress which was caused by hydrogen peroxide.

bar graph of surviving hair cells

The greater the arctiin dosage, the better the hair cells did.

Their jargon-filled conclusion said this:

“We identified 30 miRNAs that were significantly expressed following arctiin treatment, indicating that they may be involved in arctiin-mediated anti-oxidative processes. Taken together, our results provide evidence that the novel putative chemoreagent arctiin can prevent HHDP cell damage mediated by oxidative stress.”

Translated to plain English, they’re saying this in compound in burdock might reduce the death the cells caused by oxidative stress. Why that matters is because dermal papilla cells regulate hair follicle growth (36).

You will see Walmart categorize Nature’s Answer burdock root oil under “hair growth oils” on their website (but Swanson burdock is categorized under liver health). Reviews will tout it for thinning hair and reversing greys. Several shampoos, soaps, and masks make use of this oil. Keep in mind these uses have not been validated with human studies.

There is research to support that oxidative stress contributes to aging and loss of hair – including gray hairs – but it is not believed to be a primary cause (37). Even if burdock helps with stress-induced hair loss, it seems unlikely that male pattern baldness would be improved, since that is caused by genes and hormones (38).

6. Blood pressure

It has been observed that the arctigenin in the plant significantly reduced systolic blood pressure in rats (39).

Proactive Health Labs registered a double-blind study with ClinicalTrials.gov titled: Burdock and Blood Pressure in African-American Women (40). However that trial hasn’t been carried out yet.

7. Blood purifier

The same folks who purport it to be a liver detox often tout it as being a blood cleanser. TCM and other herbalists allege it does this by supporting the lymphatic system. Some recommend organic essiac tea which contains burdock in the ingredients, along with sheep sorrel, slipper elm, and Turkish rhubarb root.

Whether it’s used by itself or in an herbal tea blend like essiac, there is no proof it “cleanses” or “purifies” the blood. For any effect on lymph nodes, there’s no research either.

Since they don’t cite support, it’s unclear why so many of the burdock root reviews even bring up this supposed benefit. It’s likely the historical TCM uses for it which have crafted the public’s perception.

8. Candida yeast infections

Candida albicans under microscope

Candida yeast growing in a well plate.

Outside of the body, Brazilians researchers took 27 teeth and coated them with Candida albicans yeast and whole host of other nasty bacterial infections; Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Streptococcus (41).

For the group of teeth that had been treated with a gobo cream, there was “severe growth at 7 days, but no growth at 14 and 30 days.”

In another test, the extract was not toxic to the human cells (macrophages) in a Petri dish, but it was “microbicidal for all the evaluated strains” of biofilm infections, including Candida (42).

One of the earliest studies on the topic had this to say (43):

“It may be concluded that the Arctium lappa constituents exhibited a great microbial inhibition potential against the tested endodontic pathogens.”

Among those tested were Candida yeast. Keep in mind all of the above are only lab experiments. It’s unknown if burdock root kills parasites like these when they’re in the human body.

9. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease

These are two different inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) but they have some characteristics in common, especially side effects. Two related animal studies have been published.

An ulcerative colitis (UC) disease model was inflicted on mice, by using dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) (44). Raw burdock root chips were oven dried for 9 hours at 140° F and pulverized into a powder. Some of the mice were given this along with their water, others were not.

chart showing improvement in colon inflammatory side effects

The mice who were treated with the root had fewer loose stools/diarrhea and less rectal bleeding. It also seemed to prevent unwanted weight loss in them. The scientists concluded:

“We suggest that AL [Arctium lappa] can prevent intestinal damage and decrease inflammatory cytokines in mice with DSS-induced colitis. Thus, AL could prove to be a useful food for UC.”

They claimed there were no adverse effects observed. They theorize this is how burdock works for colitis:

“…reducing the infiltration of immune cells and the production of various inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-a.”

The second study was similar and concluded it was the arctigenin in the plant which was the active ingredient responsible (45):

“…via down-regulating the activation of MAPK and NF-KB pathways.”

10. Kidney disease and kidney stones

diagram of human kidneysThe cancer research and many others seem to focus on arctigenin, but another unique compound in the plant – arctiin – also pops up in quite a few papers.

A major cause of end-stage renal disease is membranous glomerulonephritis (MGN). It’s a slow progressing disease that causes inflammation and changes of structures in the kidneys (46).

In a Chinese study on rats treated with arctiin, this was said:

“Arctiin has favorable potency for the development of an inhibitory agent of NF-kappaB and further application to clinical treatment of glomerulonephritis, though clinical studies are required.”

Another study involved mice infected with the parasite Schistosoma haematobium (47). When treated with burdock seed extract, they said there was a “therapeutic effect in kidney disturbance” which was caused by the infection. They weren’t testing whether it killed the parasites.

For kidney stones, you have to go back nearly a quarter-century to find anything. There’s rat study where they say the saponins in burdock may benefit kidney stone formation, along with some other theories (48).

11. Testosterone and libido

Similar to maca, some claim that this root boosts sex drive, fertility, and testosterone levels. And just like with maca benefits, none of those claims are proven.

With this plant though, the research is even scarcer on the subject.

Is burdock root natural Viagra for ED? In a study involving 75 male rats, they did not find it as effective as the little blue pill, but they did claim success when they were paired them with females (49):

“…aqueous extract of Arctium lappa L. roots enhances sexual behavior in male rats.”

They even got specific in their descriptions of “penile reflexes” which were quite awkward to read! Serum testosterone levels were increased when compared to the rats getting placebo water.

12. Menopause symptoms

woman with menopause hot flashesIn the same breath as black cohosh supplements, licorice root tea, chickweed tincture, and chasteberry (Vitex), you will hear some people say you should also drink burdock root powder tea. Sometimes in combination with those other herbs.

However, we can’t find a single published paper on using it for hot flashes or any other menopause symptoms.

The closest we could find were about different related plants in the Asteraceae family; Clibadium (50), Taraxacum (dandelion) (51) (52), and Matricaria (53).

13. Gallbladder

This organ does work alongside the liver, as its primary function is to store and concentrate the bile.

The label for Swanson burdock capsules is called “Full Spectrum Herbal Gallbladder Care”and it also includes barberry and dandelion. Why they call it that isn’t clear to us, because nothing has been published on burdock root and gallbladder attacks, gallstones, or anything else related to this organ.

14. Gout

This disease is generally caused by excess uric acid in the blood.

Eating foods high in purines can worsen uric acid levels, but according to the Mayo Clinic “studies have shown that vegetables high in purines do not increase the risk of gout or recurring gout attacks.” Instead they single out high purine meats, seafood, and alcohol (54).

A South Korean rat study acknowledges that burdock root is used for gout, along with other inflammatory diseases like high blood pressure and hepatitis, but only in traditional Korean medicine. It’s not considered medicine for these diseases.

They said the root seemed to offer “suppression of vascular inflammation” when the rats were fed a high fat and high cholesterol diet, but this has no direct relation to gout (55). It was not reported to be a high purine diet and even if it was, the rats did not have gout and their uric acid levels were not reported.

In short, this study is totally unrelated. There’s nothing else on PubMed with the word gout and Arctium lappa.

15. Losing weight

fat man unable to button up shirtDoes burdock root help with weight loss?

Superfood or not, it seems like half the online ads are for “one weird food” to “trim the belly fat.” If you saw one claiming that benefit for burdock, know that the science backing it is very little.

One study claimed “significantly reduced body weight in rats” which were treated with the root supplement (56). Specific compounds were identified which they believe were responsible for activating AMPK and leading to their weight loss.

When quails were placed on a high-fat diet, it appeared to protect against atherosclerosis, but “no significant differences” were observed in their body weight (57).

Several articles online claim to drink a chickweed and burdock tea. They claim the chickweed helps to “break down the fat” and the burdock “helps transports it out of the body.” Claims like those are hoaxes.

Something that isn’t a scam that might help with weight management is the root’s fiber. If it helps your feel full for longer, it might help you battle the bulge.

16. Lyme disease

Some websites and books promote burdock supplements for lyme disease treatment, but there’s not a single piece of research on that!

17. Diabetes

diabetes blood sugar test stripsLast but not least, we come to he epidemic which is sweeping America and the rest of the westernized world. Or at least type 2 is, while type 1 diabetics unfairly get lumped in with them.

In TCM, if you look at records dating back 100+ years, this herb was not listed for the treatment of xiao ke, which is a historical grouping of symptoms believed to be diabetes (58).

Nearly one-quarter of the research listed in the PubMed database for Arctium lappa includes the word diabetes. Most is unrelated though, as they mention the disease in passing or when citing another paper on the topic. Here are some that are related:

In that phase 1 human clinical trial for pancreatic cancer discussed above, there was a tidbit that compared the extract to a well-known diabetic drug:

“None of the patients showed any signs or symptoms of lactic acidosis. Thus, GBS-01 [the extract from burdock] may have a rather similar mode of action to metformin, which is an oral antidiabetic drug in the biguanide class that inhibits mitochondrial complex I, rarely induces lactic acidosis…”

In a diabetic mouse model, there were “no significant changes in hormonal assessment and sperm count” (59).

Adiopgenic gene expression is decreased during obesity and type 2 diabetes (60). The gobo’s lignan, arctin, was said to minimize the reduction in obese mice “through the inhibition of PPARy and C/EBPa and the activation of AMPK” (61).

Not just with diabetes, but also with strokes, heart disease, muscle and nerve degeneration, there is significant stress on the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of eukaryotic cells. When these cultured cells were treated in the lab with arctigenin derived from gobo, there was a reduction in this stress (62).

It has been proposed that the arctigenic acid is what causes lower blood sugar (6).

The final verdict?

As you see, there is a lot fascinating preliminary data published, but nothing yet that is concrete and definitive.

organic burdock root powder

This is what ground powder looks like. Like sugar clumps, these easily break apart.

Like many herbal remedies, we will have to be patient and wait for future research to find out which benefits might be for real.

What is gobo root good for?

Today, you can enjoy it as a delicious food or dietary supplement. It’s a rich source of essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and has an antioxidant ORAC value which is nearly 50% higher than blueberries (6,747 vs. 4,669). So even today, you have plenty of good reasons to eat or drink it!

Get a 1 pound bulk bag on Amazon of organic burdock root chips. Boil like you would carrots. Try adding them to stews, casseroles, and stir fry. If you want to reconstitute them beforehand, soak for 5 to 10 minutes in luke warm water.

Want it as a ground powder? Starwest Botanials makes a 1 lb bag of that.

Try Traditional Medicinals brand of tea, made with organic burdock and nettle leaf. Caffeine free. Alvita and Gaia sell root teas containing it, but they’re hard to find.

The best burdock root supplement is subjective. Some prefer a liquid, while others want capsules or pills filled with powder.

475 mg capsules are available from Nature’s Way.

Nature’s Answer alcohol-free root oil is in a dropper.

For hair, this container of Ghemet biologics burdock root butter cream appears to be well reviewed. For topical use.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.