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Burdock - Arctium lappa

This biennal plant produces a rosette of large leaves in its first year, followed by stems which can grow to 5ft, and flowers in the Summer with red-purple thistle like heads and ovate leaves. Burdock is possibly more widely recognised by the hooked, seed heads [burs] which attach themselves to animal fur and bits of clothing.

Burdock is a wonderfully detoxifying herb with mild diuretic, antibiotic, antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties. It is also rich in minerals. The plant was a traditional remedy for gout, fevers and kidney stones : "The seed is much commended to break the stone and cause it to be expelled by urine." [Culpeper]. Today Burdock is well known in the form of the refreshing, tonic drink 'Dandelion and Burdock' [although sadly most supermarket brands today appear to contain no actual dandelion or burdock!].

All parts of the Burdock plant serve a purpose medicinally: the seeds are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, and are used to remove toxins in fevers such as measles and mumps. An infusion of the seeds also makes an ideal wash for acne and boils;
The roots have an antibiotic effect and are known to help the body eliminate waste products, remedying arthritic conditions and chronic skin problems. They provide a useful remedy for treating eczema, and have long been used as a remedy for thinning hair, in the form of a scalp friction;
The leaves make a purifying, blood-cleansing tea and are destructive to a number of the micro-organisms responsible for mouth and gum infections. A poultice of the leaves can be applied to abcesses and boils, and drinking infusions of burdock leaves will help clear up skin complaints - it will also soothe and tone the kidneys and is cited to eliminate excess fat and ease lymphatic congestion.

The related species Lesser Burdock - Arctium minus and Common Burdock - Arctium vulgare [common in Britain] are used in a similar way to Arctium lappa [Native to Europe and Asia, although it now grows in temperate regions throughout the world].


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