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Burdock Root Review, Uses, Benefits, Side Effects

Burdock root or arctium lappa grows throughout Europe and Asia and consists of about 10 species of upright biennials. The common name burdock refers to the burs or fruits the plant typically bears.

Arctium is a Greek word meaning a bear, which is a name for the rough coated fruit. Lappa is Latin and means to seize, which describes how the burs will cling to passing animals.

Burdock is grown as a vegetable in Japan where it is known as gobo. The stalks of young leaves are cooked and used like celery. Roots are eaten in salads or cooked like carrots or added to stir-fries.

Burdock Root Uses and Benefits

In alternative medicine, the roots have been used to cleanse the blood and liver, reduce inflammation and control bacterial infections. The seeds have been used to lower blood sugar levels.

It has also been used for skin problems and inflammatory conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, gout, boils, sores, and rheumatoid arthritis. The Chinese have used it to treat colds, pneumonia and throat infections.

In 2014 a study was run to determine the effects of burdock root on staphylococcus aureus, S. epidermidis, Streptococcus mutans, candida albicans, C. tropicalis and C. glabrata. All of these pathogenic bacteria are planktonic, meaning they build biofilms. The three species of candida build biofilms as well.

The study determined that burdock root was microbicidal for all the evaluated strains in planktonic cultures. It also had no toxic effects on the macrophages, which are white blood cells that are part of your immune system.1

A study in 2017 performed by doctors Andrada Tonea, Mandra Badea, Liviu Oana, Sorina Sava, and Dan Vodnar in Romania, determined that burdock root has antimicrobial effects against Enterococcus faecalis and Candida albicans.2

Another study that was published by scientists Rajasekharan SK, Ramesh S, Satish AS, and Lee J in the Journal Microbiol Biotechnology, was performed on the biofilm building Klebsiella pneumoniae. They found that burdock exhibited significant antibiofilm activity against K. pneumoniae and Escherichia coli and Candida albicans. They went on to suggest that arctium lappa has potential use in antibiofilm strategies against persistent K. pneumoniae infections, with added effects against e coli and candida yeast as a big bonus.3

burdock root

In 2015, Microbiologists Rajasekharan SK, Ramesh S, Bakkiyaraj D, Elangomathavan R, Kamalanathan C at PRIST University in India published a study concerning Arctium lappa and urinary tract infections. The study was performed against three biofilm building pathogens, mainly escherichia coli, Proteus mirabilis, and Serratia marcescens. E coli is the most common bacteria that causes these infections. While the study admits that the building of these biofilms in the urinary tract complicates treatment plans. Burdock was found to reduce the biofilms by 50.79% for E. coli, 69.49% for P. mirabilis, and 75.84% for S. marcescens. They also concluded that by removing these biofilms, burdock would help the host immune system fight these infections.4

In 2006, Gentil M, Pereira JV, Sousa YT, Pietro R, Neto MD, Vansan LP, de Castro França S. of the University of Ribeirão Preto in Brazil, implanted 27 teeth with a bacterial mix of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Streptococcus mutans and Candida albicans. They separated these teeth into three groups filling them with various substances. Group two was filled with a mix of Arctium lappa and propylene glycol. At day 14 and day 30 none of these pathogenic substances were found, the burdock root had killed them all.5 

A published study in Inflammopharmacology in 2011 by Chan YS, Cheng LN, Wu JH, Chan E, Kwan YW, Lee SM, Leung GP, Yu PH, Chan SW from various medical departments in China, investigated all the medicinal effects of burdock. They found that the active ingredients in the root "have been found to "detoxify" blood and promote blood circulation to the skin surface, improving the skin quality and texture and cures skin diseases like eczema. Antioxidants and antidiabetic compounds have also been found in the root. Some active compounds in the seeds possess anti-inflammatory effects and potent inhibitory effects on the growth of tumors such as pancreatic carcinoma. The active compounds in the leaf extracts can inhibit the growth of micro-organisms in the oral cavity. The medicinal uses of burdock in treating chronic diseases such as cancers, diabetes and AIDS have been reported". The possibility also exists that it could cause contact dermatitis or someone could actually be allergic to it.6

There are probably more studies out there proving burdocks antimicrobial effects but I think the above is enough to prove that it does indeed work for candida yeast, candida tropicalis and candida glabrata. It also works for the pathogenic bacteria e coli, staphylococcus aureus, staphylococcus epidermidis, streptococcus mutans, klebsiella pneumoniae, proteus mirabilis, serratia marcescens, and pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Burdock Root Side Effects

In all of these studies it also had a potent effect on all the pathogenic organisms biofilms. When you strip the biofilm the immune system sees the infection and will mount an inflammatory response to get rid of the offending organism. This killing effect can result in the release of toxins as these pathogens die, but burdock root also helps to clean the liver and blood, which minimizes the uncomfortable cleansing reaction.

If you are diabetic and are on medications to reduce blood sugar levels, because burdock root helps lower blood sugar levels, you should consult with your doctor or pharmacist before taking burdock supplements.

Due to its blood cleansing effects, it is best to consult with your doctor or pharmacist prior to taking burdock root if you are blood thinning medications or have bleeding disorders.

If you have allergies to the ragweed family of plants, you may also be allergic to burdock.

Article written by Dan and edited for accuracy by Dr. Taylor

It is found in Microfase and is also available on Amazon

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Trusted Medical Sources

1. Arch Oral Biol. 2014 Aug;59(8):808-14. doi: 10.1016/j.archoralbio.2014.05.013. Epub 2014 May 13.
Control of microorganisms of oral health interest with Arctium lappa L. (burdock) extract non-cytotoxic to cell culture of macrophages (RAW 264.7).

2. Clujul Med. 2017;90(3):344-347. doi: 10.15386/cjmed-750. Epub 2017 Jul 15.
Antibacterial and antifungal activity of endodontic intracanal medications.

3. J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2017 Mar 28;27(3):542-551. doi: 10.4014/jmb.1609.09043.
Antibiofilm and Anti-ß-Lactamase Activities of Burdock Root Extract and Chlorogenic Acid against Klebsiella pneumoniae.

4. Urolithiasis. 2015 Feb;43(1):29-40. doi: 10.1007/s00240-014-0720-x. Epub 2014 Sep 17. Burdock root extracts limit quorum-sensing-controlled phenotypes and biofilm architecture in major urinary tract pathogens.

5. Phytother Res. 2006 Mar;20(3):184-6. In vitro evaluation of the antibacterial activity of Arctium lappa as a phytotherapeutic agent used in intracanal dressings.

6. Inflammopharmacology. 2011 Oct;19(5):245-54. doi: 10.1007/s10787-010-0062-4. Epub 2010 Oct 28. A review of the pharmacological effects of Arctium lappa (burdock).

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