6 ways burdock root can help you stick to good health

Here’s a piece of trivia for you…

What plant is a blood purifier and is considered helpful against cancer, diabetes, skin diseases and arthritis… and was the inspiration for Velcro?

In 1941, Swiss inventor Georges de Mestral went for a walk in the woods. He wondered what could be done with the burrs that constantly clung to his trousers, and to his dog’s fur.

It was a eureka moment. In 1955, he patented Velcro.

Those burrs came from a plant whose root has been used medicinally for thousands of years in Asia and Europe. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, its fruit is used to help cool internal heat, support healthy skin and prevent hair loss.

Today, it’s still easy to enjoy the many health benefits of burdock root. And there are quite a few amazing ways in which this little-known plant can help improve your health.

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Health benefits of burdock root

Burdock is a root that is commonly eaten as a vegetable, much like a turnip, parsnip or beet. For a plant that is not talked about a lot, there are many ways to put it to use…

1. Burdock helps cleanse the system. Traditional medicine has long used burdock tea to “cleanse the blood.” Today, we know that detoxifying naturally to remove heavy metals and other toxins from the body is something we should be doing periodically.

The  lymphatic system is kind of like the body’s drainage system. It carries fluids from your body into and out of the blood. A strong lymphatic system helps ward off illness. Burdock root strengthens the lymphatic system.

2. Burdock is a diuretic. By helping to remove excess fluids from the body, its diuretic effects help ease strain on the kidneys and liver.

3. Burdock may be a natural wrinkle reducer. A 2008 study showed that a 4-week topical treatment with a natural burdock root extract significantly reduced wrinkles and crow’s feet.

Burdock is also known to calm and heal eczema, psoriasis and acne, perhaps due to its blood cleansing properties.

4. Burdock root helps against complications from diabetes. Burdock root contains a soluble fiber called inulin, which acts as a natural prebiotic, helping to improve digestion and lower blood sugar.

Animal studies have also shown burdock root to ease the severity of the complications of diabetes, particularly diabetic retinopathy. The symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include blurry vision, loss of color vision and a loss of central vision, needed to read or drive.

5. Burdock root helps protect against cancer. Burdock root is high in arctigenin, a polyphenol that has been shown to inhibit cancer cells’ production of proteins they need to grow and multiply.

6. Burdock root helps ease arthritis. When patients with osteoarthritis of the knee drank three cups of burdock root tea a day for 42 days, there was a significant reduction in inflammatory markers, including c-reactive protein.

How to use burdock root

Like many root vegetables, burdock root can be stir-fried, pickled, or used in salads. It should be peeled like a carrot and kept cool or refrigerated.

While fresh burdock can be found in the wild, it is truly best to buy it. That’s because it can easily be mistaken for foxglove, which is highly toxic.

Burdock root can be consumed in a tea, or purchased as a dried powder, tincture or in capsule form.

A few precautions

Since burdock root is a diuretic, do not use it if you are already dehydrated.

Also, if you are allergic to ragweed and other plants in that family, including chrysanthemums, you could experience an allergic reaction as well.

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Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.