"Natural Healing with Herbs for a Healthier You"
by Marilyn Light
THE BENEFITS OF THE USE OF BURDOCK
IN HERBAL PREPARATIONS
CHEMICAL CONSTITUENTS OF BURDOCK
Burdock Root contains vitamins A, B complex and E. Burdock Root is known to contain, chlorogenic acid, taraxosterol, arctigen, mucilage, resin; arctigenin, arctic acid; volatile oils & acids; non-hydroxy acids; and sucrose. The root contains up to 50% inulin (or fructosan). The root itself is a good source of the carbohydrate inulin which can account for 27- 45% of the plant mass.
Up to seventy-five percent of the root is made up of complex carbohydrates known as fructo-oligo-saccharides (FOS). Intake of FOS significantly increases beneficial bifidobacteria within the gastrointestinal tract and eliminates bacterial pathogens. This ultimately stimulates the immune system and effectively suppresses abnormal cell growth. The high levels of FOS in Burdock Root and its water extract also help to keep blood sugar levels constant and reduce hyperglycemia. Burdock Root and its tea also contain at least five powerful flavonoid-type antioxidants that are more powerful antioxidants than vitamin C. As a mildly bitter-tasting herb, it increases saliva and bile secretion, which aids digestion and cleanses the liver. These qualities of Burdock Root support proper hormone balances within the body and this may explain its traditional use for treating acne, eczema, endometriosis, fibroids and psoriasis.
Burdock also contains polyynes as well as sulfur derivatives, antibacterial polyacetylenes, bitter substances (i.e. lactones); polyphenols including caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid and other powerful flavonoid-type antioxidants; sitosterol and stigmasterol, a bitter crystalline glucoside - lappin - a little resin, fatty oil, fixed and volatile oils, some tannic acid, and wax. Burdock contains active compounds called sesquiterpene lactones. Experts don't know for sure which active ingredients in Burdock Root are responsible for all of its healing properties.
Burdock Root is reported to have alterative, diuretic, diaphoretic, antipyretic, antimicrobial and anti-tumor activities. Burdock may have mild bacteriostatic and fungistatic activity and may also stimulate the flow of bile. It may inhibit HIV-1 infection, antagonize platelet activating factor, and prevent tumors. The antimicrobial activity was attributed to the polyacetylenes present.
The roots contain starch, and the ashes of the plant, burnt when green, yield carbonate of potash abundantly, and also some nitre.
Studies of burdock show that it is high in many minerals: potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium, phosphorous, chromium, cobalt, iron, silicon, and zinc. Data also indicates that Burdock is also a good source of essential oils and other compounds that exhibit bacteriostatic and antifungal activity.
Burdock root contains high amounts of inulin and mucilage. This may explain its soothing effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Bitter constituents in the root may also explain the traditional use of burdock to improve digestion. Additionally, Burdock has been shown to reduce liver damage in animal studies.
This has not been confirmed in human studies, however. It also contains polyacetylenes that have demonstrated anti-microbial activity. Even though test tube and animal studies have indicated some anti-tumor activity in burdock root, these results have not been duplicated in human studies.
Several animal and test tubes studies have also suggested an anti-inflammatory effect of unknown compounds in burdock root or seeds, including an ability to inhibit the potentinflammation causing chemical platelet activating factor.
The volatile oils of burdock seed are said to be an effective diaphoretic, used to induce sweating as an aid in neutralizing and eliminating toxins from the body. This activity is widely utilized by herbal practitioner's in the treatment of liver problems, gallstones, flu, and to support the kidneys in filtering acids from the blood stream.