(NaturalNews) As the days get cooler and wild plants seem few and far between, Burdock (Arctium lappa) can still be found in large quantity. Burdock root is a versatile vegetable and one of the finest healing herbs known to cleanse the blood. In Healing with Whole Foods Paul Pitchford writes, "(Burdock) is a virtual cure-all for conditions of excess, and significantly purifies the blood while reducing fat and regulating blood sugar." (1)
In the fall and winter - until the ground freezes - you can harvest burdock root all over North America. Look for first year plants: the wavy green leaves will be in basal rosettes on the ground. You'll find them close to the easier-to-spot dead second year burdock plants which are brown, devoid of leaves and covered with burrs that stick to your clothes or your pet's fur. Harvest the roots from plants that are still green: you'll need a long shovel or spade because burdock sends down a long thick taproot that can be difficult to extract.
In Japan, burdock root is called gobo and is eaten as a vegetable. It can usually be found in Asian groceries or health food stores. The wild or store-bought root can be eaten cooked or raw: added to soups or sauteed with carrots and sesame seeds, or grated in salads and coleslaw. Burdock can also be juiced for a delicious and refreshing healing beverage.
Burdock root can be used medicinally as well. The root can be sliced and dried, then simmered into tea. To make a tincture, steep the fresh root in alcohol. A standard dose is about 30 drops taken twice a day.
Burdock root is considered powerful medicine in both Eastern and Western herbal traditions. In the East burdock is considered bitter and cool. It drains dampness and clears excess heat (or toxins) from the body. In the West burdock is known to cleanse the blood, and is useful in situations such as:
exposure to environmental toxins such as cigarette smoke or air pollution
parasites in the blood
heavy metals such as mercury, lead or arsenic in the blood
chronic bacterial or viral infections, such as chronic fatigue or Lyme disease
Burdock is a favorite among herbalists to treat acne. It supports the liver in cleansing the blood, and clears skin redness and blemishes.
Try this recipe for fresh cleansing burdock juice:
3 inch piece of burdock root
1/2 inch piece of ginger root
3 small apples
1 leaf of collard, kale or chard (optional, add if you want a green juice)
1/4 lemon, with skin if organic
Juice the above fruits and vegetables and enjoy.
Footnotes 1. Pitchford, p.119
Elias, Thomas and Dykeman, Peter. Edible Wild Plants. A North American Field Guide. Sterling, 2009.
Holmes, Peter. The Energetics of Western Herbs, Volumes I and II. Snow Lotus Press, 2007.
Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods, Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. Third Edition. Berkeley, CA. Atlantic Books. 2002
About the author
Melissa Sokulski is an acupuncturist, herbalist, and founder of the website Food Under Foot, a website devoted entirely to wild edible plants. The website offers plant descriptions, photographs, videos, recipes and more. Her new workbook, Wild Plant Ally, offers an exciting, hands-on way to learn about wild edible plants. Melissa also runs The Birch Center for Health in Pittsburgh, PA, providing the best in complementary health care: acupuncture, therapeutic massage and herbal medicine.