Its Latin name is Arctium Lappa, it comes from the Sunflower family (which has given us many useful herbs), and most of us know Burdock for its little burrs that cling to clothing in its attempt to propagate itself. Did you know that Burdock’s clinging properties led to the invention of Velcro? And in some languages like Serbian, Turkish and Polish the word for Velcro and Burdock are the same.
The roots of young Burdock plants can be harvested and eaten as a root vegetable and is popular in Asia, with its sweet, mild and pungent flavour and the stalks taste like artichoke if harvested early before the flowers appear. Burdock also used to be used instead of hops as a bittering agent in beer. In the UK Burdock is added to Dandelion to produce a fermented root beer (although most commercially produced versions use synthetic extracts and flavourings).
Health-wise Burdock is impressive. Modern studies show Burdock root to be rich in phytosetrols and Essential Fatty Acids. As a herbal extract it was first used by the Chinese in medieval times. Taken internally Burdock is a blood purifier and diuretic. It can help regulate blood pressure, aid digestion, control diabetes and detoxify the liver. Many herbalists also recommend Burdock for skin rashes, eczema, pimples, acne and inflammation. In homeopathy it can be useful for clingy children (using the doctrine of signatures) with eczema or other skin diseases.
Impressive as this is, the Swell team have been interested in Burdock’s effects on hair and roots. We use a decoction of the Burdock root as one out of 18 botanical actives that form our unique Root Complex in Swell hair products. It has a wonderful effect on the hair structure, nourishes hair follicles, stimulates hair growth, reduces seborrhea. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect and fights dandruff. Burdock along with Nettles gives hair a healthy shine. Who would have thought lowly Burdock could be such a useful plant.