burdock (arctium lappa)

As I was walking through my garden yesterday I came upon my two burdock plants that had become hidden and forgotten among the towering jerusalem artichokes

The seed heads were full and heavy after the recent rain, causing the tops to be dragged to the ground

My initial thought was that I must quickly collect the seed heads before they were scattered over the surrounds and lost. This is the second year that they have been alive and as they are biennial, I can now harvest the roots

All parts of this wonderful plant can be used, the roots, the leaves and the seeds. Up until now I have been picking a couple of the tender, young leaves and adding them to salads. The leaves can be stripped back to the stem and then sautéed with a little olive oil, garlic and celtic salt for a delicious treat. In Japan the roots are called ‘gobo’ and eaten as a vegetable. The flower stalks can be harvested before flowering, stripped back and cooked

This is how you can use your food as your medicine and not be so reliant on food from the supermarket

Burdock is native to Europe and Asia and grows wild in all temperate parts of the world. While it is a truly beneficial plant for food and medicine it is important to act responsibly and collect all seed before it has the chance to disperse into the wider environment. The seeds also have medicinal properties so it is wise to save them for this reason as well. Infuse the seeds and use this as a wash for skin disorders such as acne, boils or school sores. A poultice made from the leaves can be used on skin conditions as well

Burdock has a very strong cleansing action on your body so when used as a medicine in the form of herbal tea, tincture or decoction it is important to only take it for a prescribed amount of time and not for prolonged periods

Traditionally burdock has been used as a blood purifier and a nutritive liver tonic. It is believed to regenerate liver cells and stimulate the gall bladder. It was and still is a preferred remedy for all skin conditions including, psoriasis, eczema, rashes and boils. Once your liver is assisted in its efforts to detoxify your body the eliminative process through your skin is arrested

Herbalists today also use burdock for its diuretic action which assists your body’s elimination of toxins via your urinary system. In cases of cystitis and the accompanying burning and stinging, Burdock is a Godsend. Make an infusion with the leaves and sweeten with honey if the taste is too bitter for you

Burdock can assist with the elimination of uric acid from your body. If you suffer from gout, arthritis, or rheumatism include a few young leaves of burdock into your salad every couple of days. Or drink the tea made with the leaves for a couple of weeks until that uric acid has been eliminated. If you suffer from kidney stones or heel spurs Burdock may help by its ability to dissolve calcifications in the body

The roots of burdock can be dried and stored, to be used for those times when you don’t have fresh Burdock on hand. You can make a decoction with the roots that can be used for treating arthritis and skin disorders. A decoction is made by simmering the roots with water for a couple of minutes and then turning off the heat and allowing the mixture to cool. Strain the mixture and then drink. One teaspoon of dried root per cup of water

Burdock has rather persistent burrs on the seed heads that stick to your clothes. It was this particular feature of burdock that inspired the Swiss inventor George de Mestral to invent Velcro. We thank you burdock and we  thank you George

I think that burdock is another must in your herb garden. It is easy to grow and more importantly it is a food and a medicine that enables you to practice self help