Burdock Tea and Its Benefits
Wild burdock is found in abundance in much of the world, including the United States. Medicinally, burdock has been used for centuries to treat everything from decreased urine flow to increasing one’s sex drive. Today, the tea is widely available, but there are a few things to consider before you kick back with a steaming mug of burdock tea.
What is Burdock?
Burdock belongs to the daisy family, which is scientifically known as the Asteraceae family. Thistle-like in nature, burdock has round seed pods with spikes and purple toned flowers that typically bloom during summer months. The leaves of the burdock plant are very large and waxy, with leaves closest to the ground taking on a heart shaped appearance. You may have noticed the spiky pods of the burdock plant in your pets fur after he has run through the forest or a wooded area, as burdock grows abundantly in the United States.
What is Burdock Tea Good For?
Hang on to your tea cup! Burdock is a seriously amazing plant. Its roots, leaves and seeds are used to make pharmaceuticals, but you can use wild self-harvested burdock or commercial burdock tea for a host of ailments. Some healthy uses for burdock tea or burdock oil are:
- To control diabetes/blood sugar levels
- Cancer prevention ( although further studies are needed to support this)
- Clearing up skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis
- Controlling high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries
- Increasing the libido or sex drive
- Treating anorexia
- Getting rid of bladder infections
- (Spiritually) To ward off negative energy
The list of uses for burdock is virtually endless, although the above uses are some of the most popular. Burdock is a potent blood purifier, with roots used within one year of harvest being the most effective medicinal parts of the plant. However, the leaves and fruit are also used.
What Does Burdock Tea Taste Like?
Burdock root tea has a unique flavor that is unlike most commercial teas. Slightly sweet, dried roasted burdock has an earthy taste that is subtle enough it is often paired with other herbs in teas. The light or mild flavor of burdock tea without any additions is appealing for those who aren’t particularly fond of strong flavors.
Often, burdock is consumed for medicinal purposes or five to six times per day to maintain good health. Often, burdock root is not paired with other herbs or flavors. Although some herbs and teas that burdock pairs well with include sarsaparilla, nettle and dandelion root for detox purposes. Because burdock has such a mild flavor, it pairs well with Chinese black tea, orange spice tea, chamomile and peppermint. It is best not to pair burdock with other cleansing teas without knowledge of dosage, as it is possible to over do it.
Healing Benefits of Burdock Tea
The following health benefits of burdock are all supported by preclinical trials, as reported by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center or the University of Maryland Medical Center.
- Anti-inflammatory – The chlorogenic acid found in the roots and leaves of burdock has an anti-inflammatory effect.
- Anti-Cancer – The chemical makeup of burdock is thought to fight cancer. The plant contains terpenoids known as sesquiterpene lactones, which have an anti-cancer effect. Additional anti-cancer qualities included B2, flavanoids and taraxosterol. In animal studies, burdock prevented the mutation of DNA, although more evaluation is needed.
- Anti-Diabetic – Containing inulin to store energy, burdock naturally lowers blood sugar levels, although it should not be taken in conjunction with diabetic medication. This is also a contributing factor to burdock’s ability to control weight,
- Anti-helmenthia – Burdock treats intestinal worms or parasites naturally in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
- Antibacterial – In lab studies, burdock stopped the growth of bacteria and fungi. Properties of the plant that contribute to this include
- Immunological – Rich in vitamin A, burdock improves overall immune function. In animal studies, immune response was stimulated with burdock ingestion.
- Antioxidant properties – Burdock contains phenolic acids, quercetin, and luteolin, powerful antioxidants. reports the University of Maryland Medical Center.
- Neurologic function – B1 found in burdock helps maintain nerves and memory function.
Biochemical Profile of Burdock
Often sold as a Chinese herbal tea, burdock is a treasure trove of nutrients including polyphenols such as flavonoids, stilbenes and lignans, all vital in treating inflammation, reducing oxidative stress and neutralizing free radicals. One liganoid found in burdock, known as artcitigen, is thought to contain anti-cancer properties. Also rich in iron, lactone and resin, burdock is known to treat over 27 conditions.
Are There Any Side Effects from Burdock Tea?
There are few if any negative side effects of drinking burdock tea, although there is misinformation regarding people being poisoned by burdock. This is entirely false. In these cases, the burdock was contaminated with nightshade, which is also known as belladonna, a plant containing a toxin called atropine, states WebMD. Burdock taken in the food amounts found in tea is considered safe. Expect ions include:
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding – There simply isn’t enough information to know whether burdock is safe for pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding. Therefore, it is best to err on the side of caution by avoiding burdock.
- Ragweed allergies – Individuals with an allergy to ragweed or related plants such as marigolds, chrysanthemums and daises should not use burdock, as it belongs to this class of plants.
- Blood clotting – It is believed that burdock can cause slower blood clotting. Individuals with bleeding disorders should avoid burdock, as well as those having surgical procedures. Stop using burdock at least 2 weeks before surgery. Do not use burdock with medications that slow blood clotting including aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen and heparin, among others.
- Diabetes – Burdock can lower blood sugar levels, which is a good thing in some cases. However, people with diabetes are already taking medication to lower blood sugar. Combining burdock can cause levels to become too low and result in a serious condition. People with diabetes should speak to their doctor before using burdock.
Dosage and How to Make Burdock Tea
When using prepackaged burdock tea or burdock root, use approximately one teaspoon per cup of tea. Allow the root or tea bag to steep in boiling water for at least five minutes to achieve optimal health benefits, although simmering for up to 30 minutes is ideal. While there are not current clinical dosage guidelines for burdock, an average dose is approximately 2 grams. Many people drink burdock tea 5 to 6 times per day, although those new to drinking burdock tea should start with a small dose and gradually increase intake. Using wild burdock, the roots are dug during the spring, dried, roasted and stored.
Where to Buy Burdock Tea
Burdock tea is widely available online from Alvita, Traditional Medicinals, Tea Haven and Buddha Teas, although fresh burdock root can also be found in many health food stores or purchased from a licensed TCM practioner. Burdock is best when it is fresh, being most potent when it is used within one year of harvest. The root is also typically available in the produce section of Asian markets, as it is commonly used for culinary purposes.
Who Can Benefit From This Herbal Tea?
Virtually anyone can benefit from drinking burdock tea on a daily basis, particularly individuals who struggle with poor health or want to maintain good health. Think of burdock as a full body cleanser, working from the inside out. Although more clinical research needs to be done, many herbalists use burdock for cancer treatment and prevention. The American Cancer Society states, that the risk of developing some form of cancer is 43.1 percent for Americans during their lifetime, meaning burdock tea should be a staple in most households for possible prevention.
What We Like About This Herbal Tea
While burdock isn’t our favorite flavor of herbal tea, it is one of the top five teas for medicinal purposes. In almost any medicinal herb guide, burdock is mentioned again and again – and with reason! We like that almost anyone can reap the benefits of burdock, as there are little negative side effects or interactions. Burdock is truly one of nature’s wonder plants!
Did You Know?
- In ancient times, it was believed that burdock leaves laid at one’s feet cured gout
- The stem of the burdock plant is thick and hairy, growing from 3 to 5 feet in length
- In the United States, burdock is considered an invasive weed (seriously)
- Burdock is associated with the feminine in folklore
- Derived from Latin the word burr means wool, a fitting name, as the spiky pods of the burdock plant often stick in animal’s fur