Health Benefits of Burdock Root

Burdock root has been used as food and medicine for centuries in various ways, including as a diuretic to aid digestion. It comes from the plant burdock (arctium lappa) that is related to daisies and sunflowers. It’s native to North Asia and Europe, but is grown in other parts of the world, including North America. 

The roots of the burdock plant are believed to be the most beneficial part of the plant. While scientific research is limited at this time, burdock root contains a variety of nutrients such as antioxidants and inulin that are known to help with conditions like skin disorders, inflammation, digestion, and more.      

Health Benefits

Burdock root is often eaten, yet, can also be dried and steeped into tea. It works well as a source of inulin, a prebiotic fiber that aids digestion and improves gut health. Additionally, this root contains flavonoids (plant nutrients), phytochemicals, and antioxidants that are known to have health benefits. 

In addition, burdock root can provide other benefits like:

Reduce Chronic Inflammation

Burdock root contains a number of antioxidants, such as quercetin, phenolic acids, and luteolin, which can help protect your cells from free radicals. These antioxidants help reduce inflammation throughout the body. 

One study found that burdock root tea helped improve inflammation and oxidative stress markers in 36 participants with knee osteoarthritis. Yet, more research on the potential anti-inflammatory properties of burdock root is needed.  

Slow or Prevent Some Cancers 

The flavonoids and polyphenols in burdock root may help slow tumor development as well as reduce pain experienced from some cancers, such as breast tumors. A laboratory study in 2011 found that the free radicals in burdock root helped stop some cancers from spreading. However, additional research is needed, as there is insufficient evidence for the use of burdock root as a cancer treatment.

Help with Skin Conditions

Burdock root’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial components may help different skin conditions, like wrinkles, eczema, acne, and psoriasis when applied topically. A small observational study found burdock may help with inflammatory types of acne.   

Continued

Health Risks

Burdock root is considered safe to eat or drink as tea. However, this plant closely resembles belladonna nightshade plants, which are toxic. It’s recommended to only buy burdock root from trusted sellers and to refrain from collecting it on your own. Additionally, there is minimal information on its effects in children or pregnant women. Talk with your doctor before using burdock root with children or if you are pregnant.

Here are some other possible health risks to consider if using burdock root: 

Increased Dehydration

Burdock root acts like a natural diuretic, which can lead to dehydration. If you take water pills or other diuretics, you should not take burdock root. If you take these medications, it is important to be aware of other drugs, herbs, and ingredients that may lead to dehydration.

Allergic Reaction

If you are sensitive or have a history of allergic reactions to daisies, ragweed, or chrysanthemums, you are at increased risk for an allergic reaction to burdock root.

Additionally, this root can cause an allergic reaction or interact with some medications. Talk with your doctor first before using burdock root if you take medicines for diabetes or blood thinners.

Temporary Bloating

Burdock root is high in inulin, which helps with digestion. However, some people may experience temporary bloating or gas after eating it. You may be at increased risk of these symptoms if you’re sensitive to other foods high in inulin. In general, research suggests that up to 20 grams of inulin a day is tolerated by most people.

Amounts and Dosage

There is little research and guidance on the recommended daily amount of burdock root. Ask your doctor to make sure the dosages of supplements and tinctures are appropriate for your health needs. 

You can often find fresh burdock root at natural food stores and farmers’ markets. If eating it, peel the outer layer. You can eat it raw or cooked, such as sauteed or stir-fried. You can also find it as a dried powder, in supplements, or in some skincare products.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 07, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Anaerobe: “Prebiotic effectiveness of inulin extracted from edible burdock”

BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies: “Antioxidative and in vitro antiproliferative activity of Arctium lappa root extracts”

Frontiers in Plant Science: “Arctium Species Secondary Metabolites Chemodiversity and Bioactivities”

Homeopathy: “Observational study of Arctium lappa in the treatment of acne vulgaris”

Inflammopharmacology: “A review of the pharmacological effects of Arctium lappa”

International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases: “Effects of Arctium lappa L. (Burdock) root tea on inflammatory status and oxidative stress in patients with knee osteoarthritis”

Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis: “Metabolic profile of the bioactive compounds of burdock (Arctium lappa) seeds, roots and leaves”

Nutrients: “Effects of drugs and excipients on hydration status”

Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology: “Evaluation of safety of inulin and oligofructose as dietary fiber”

Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal: “Natural cures for breast cancer treatment”

The Asthma & Allergy Center: “Beware of ragweed ‘relatives’”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pagination

Get Diet and Fitness Tips In Your Inbox

Eat better and exercise smarter. Sign up for the Food & Fitness newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the WebMD Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of WebMD subscriptions at any time.