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Burdock, a root native to Europe and Asia, is the main source for a variety of herbal preparations. Burdock root tastes sweet and its texture is sticky. Burdock has been used as remedy for both fevers and colds, urinary tract infections, and rheumatism, although clinical evidence of its effectiveness for treating these conditions is lacking. Burdock has also been employed as a diuretic and more recently has been used as a tea in the treatment of cancer and a number of other maladies.
Historical Uses of Burdock Root
Burdock root has been described as alternative and a blood purifier. The burdock root was believed to clear toxins from the bloodstream. It may be applied externally as well as internally to relieve eczema and psoriasis. Additionally, it may ease painful joints or act as a diuretic. Ancient Chinese medicine combined burdock root with other herbs to treat colds, measles, sore throats, and tonsillitis. And the Japanese consume burdock root as a vegetable.
Health Benefits of Burdock Root Tea
Burdock can be taken in several different forms--powdered, liquid and even served as a vegetable--but tea is one of the easiest preparations. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, you can get maximum burdock benefits by drinking burdock tea three times a day. You can make burdock root tea by steeping 2 to 6 grams (g) of chopped burdock root in 2 cups of hot water for 15 to 20 minutes. The starchy root has a pronounced flavor that some people prefer with a little honey, sugar or lemon added to it.
Increases Urine Flow
Because burdock is a natural diuretic, it helps increase the flow of urine from your body, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. Diuretics are commonly used to treat hypertension and may reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease. Because it's a diuretic, burdock might cause dehydration if you're not careful.
Lowers Blood Sugar
Burdock root tea may play a role in lowering blood sugar levels in the body, which could be useful for people with diabetes or people who are at increased risk for diabetes. MedLine Plus points out that these results cannot be considered conclusive because the studies that report them are small and were not well designed.
Eases PMS Symptoms
Drinking burdock root tea might help relieve some of the irritation that accompanies premenstrual syndrome (PMS) for many women, according to James Duke, Ph.D., an herb expert, cited by writer Amy Mayfield in an article on burdock root for May/June 2005 issue of "The Herb Companion" magazine.
Improves Quality of Life
Burdock root is an ingredient in a few different cancer treatments, including Essiac--which contains rhubarb, sorrel and slippery elm, as well as burdock root. According to MedLine Plus, though a few early studies support burdock as a treatment to improve the quality of life for people with cancer, more research is needed to state conclusively whether burdock is an authentically effective treatment.
Burdock tea may help treat skin irritation, including eczema, but not if you drink it. Soaking a clean cloth in burdock tea--omit any sweeteners or other flavorings--and applying the cloth like a compress directly to the affected skin may soothe skin irritation, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
How to make Burdock Tea
Side Effects of Burdock
Burdock does have some side effects. It is a very strong detoxifier and can at first aggravate some skin conditions before beginning to heal them. To avoid any adverse effects, it is better to begin taking small amounts and then gradually increase the dosage.
It is not recommended for those just beginning to use herbal remedies to gather burdock from the wild. This is due to its resemblance to several poisonous plants, and any confusion could lead to serious illness or worse. Mild side effects from contamination with these other plants may include a slowed heart beat or a dry mouth.
Those taking medication for regulating blood sugar or for diabetes should consult a medical professional before using burdock root, as it may interfere with some prescription drugs.
Last Update: 2012.9
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