A plethora of vegetables are available, thanks to Mother Nature, which offer ample nutrition for leading a long, healthy life. In particular, root vegetables obtained from the underground portion of trees or plants are known to boost overall wellbeing, with popular examples being carrots, potatoes and beetroots. However, there is another lesser-known root vegetable that also supplies immense benefits for health and wellness, known as burdock root.
Burdock root has been used as both food and medicine since ancient time in parts of Europe and Asia where it grows naturally, as it is bestowed with vitamins, minerals, fibres, proteins and antioxidants. It delivers excellent health benefits such as improving heart functions, mitigating joint pain, treating skin inflammation and detoxifying the liver, kidneys and blood of impurities for better metabolism and immunity. No wonder then that this plant is widely grown in many parts of the world today including North America and Australia, to acquire the amazing health benefits and nutritional values it offers.
Burdock root is incorporated into cooking as a vegetable, being used to prepare stir-fries, noodles, curries and soups, while also being available as the powdered root extract and even as a therapeutic supplement in capsule form. Read on, to discover the fantastic wellness incentives of burdock root for overall health.
The Burdock Plant:
The burdock plant, scientifically termed Arctium lappa and belonging to the Asteraceae botanical family related to daisies and sunflowers, is a biennial plant that is native to Europe and Asia, in countries of Italy, Portugal, China, Japan. It is commonly called edible burdock, gobo and thorny burr and is today widely cultivated in many parts of the world for its excellent health benefits and nutritional values, including in North America, Australia, Southern Asia, in the countries of USA, India, Thailand. It grows as a bushy weed in high-nitrogen soils in North America and Australia, where burdock has been introduced and naturalised.
The burdock plant is a tall tree that grows up to a height of 10 feet i.e., 3 meters. It has large dark-green heart-shaped leaves arranged alternately, which bear long petioles, with a foliage-like pubescent appearance. The flowers are white to purple in colour present in clusters, which develop into fruits that are prickly, long and compressed. The fleshy tap root of the burdock plant grows up to 3 feet in depth in the soil and is edible, being consumed as a vegetable and in the dried, powdered form.
Burdock Root Nutrition:
The nutrition value per 100 g of burdock root is as follows, with the fraction of Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) being met by the nutrients given in percentage:
(Source: USDA National Nutrient Data Base)
Energy 72 Kcal 3.5%
Carbohydrates 17.34 g 13%
Protein 1.53 g 3%
Total Fat 0.15 g <1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 3.3 g 8%
Folates 23 µg 6%
Niacin 0.300 mg 2%
Pantothenic acid 0.321 mg 6%
Pyridoxine 0.240 mg 18%
Riboflavin 0.30 mg 2%
Thiamin 0.010 mg 1%
Vitamin A 5 IU 1%
Vitamin C 3 mg 5%
Vitamin E 0.38 mg 2.5%
Vitamin K 1.6 µg 1%
Sodium 5 mg <1%
Potassium 308 mg 6.5%
Calcium 41 mg 4%
Iron 0.80 mg 10%
Magnesium 38 mg 9%
Manganese 0.232 mg 10%
Phosphorus 51 mg 7%
Selenium 0.7 mg 1%
Zinc 0.33 mg 3%
Apart from being laden with myriad essential nutrients like proteins, fibres, vitamins, minerals, burdock root is also a storehouse of potent antioxidants quercetin, luteolin, tannins, flavonoids, carotenoids, polyphenols. These provide effective anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and analgesic properties to treat a host of health conditions and uplift overall wellbeing.
Health Benefits Of Burdock Root:
Augments Heart Function
Having negligible cholesterol content, burdock root can be safely consumed in diet regularly for promoting heart health. The boiled vegetable can be effortlessly added to many standard homemade Indian dishes like dal, sambar, soup, curry, as it improves the circulation of blood to and from the heart, ensuring optimal functioning of cardiac muscles.
Detoxifies The Kidneys
Burdock root stimulates the normal elimination of body wastes via the excretory system in the body. It boosts the secretion of fluids within the kidneys, promptly getting rid of accumulated toxins and at the same time, guaranteeing proper hydration of the internal organs in the body. Burdock root boiled and mashed in soup supports the routine tasks of kidneys and bladder.
Enhances Digestive System
Burdock root has a significant fiber content, which helps to prevent instances of constipation, bloating and cramping of the stomach, upon ingestion of a heavy meal. Moreover, its laxative nature regulates bowel movements, thereby easing any discomfort experienced in the gut.
Relieves Respiratory Ailments
Burdock root has an intrinsic expectorant quality, which implies that it can readily loosen any excess phlegm or mucus secretions and remove them from the respiratory tract. This immensely benefits lung function and also prevents any allergies and breathing difficulties.
Helps Combat Fevers
The phytonutrients or plant compounds in burdock root have an inherent temperature reducing potential. The leaves of the burdock plant, when rubbed on a person suffering from high fever, provides immediate relief, reducing body temperature and symptoms of fatigue. Moreover, since normal metabolism is affected during fevers, burdock root also expels excess water and salts from the body, in order to help maintain ideal electrolyte balance.
Treats Joint Illnesses
Being an effective anti-inflammatory, burdock root actually reduces bone and muscle pain and heals joint disorders such as arthritis, osteoporosis, gout and fractures. In addition, it is packed with the three essential bone-fortifying minerals namely calcium, magnesium and phosphorous, which in turn increases bone mass and helps regain flexible movement in muscles and joints.
Being a powerhouse of vitamin C and a host of flavonoids and carotenes, burdock root is a potent agent to boost immune system function in situations of illnesses. Since function of organs is below the optimum during disease, consuming burdock root as a vegetable instills vitamin C to blood cells, which is subsequently transported to other organs to recover their peak functioning levels. It also helps to recuperate from tiredness.
Regulates Thyroid Functions
The thyroid hormone levels tend to fluctuate and rise above the normal range in some people, causing hyperthyroidism. Burdock root is profuse in iodine content, which is vital to reduce elevated thyroid hormone levels, as well as zinc, which plays a central role in facilitating enzyme function for optimizing thyroid concentrations.
The prominent vitamin B6 or pyridoxine content in burdock root is very beneficial in monitoring brain functions and allowing the unobstructed conduction of nerve impulses. Hence, during instances of insomnia or severe lack of sleep, having a glass of burdock tea can lessen the activity of neurotransmitters and promote sleep.
Burdock Root Uses For Skin And Hair:
Moisturises Dry Skin
Burdock root has innate content of the smoothening or emollient Vitamin E, that also has antioxidant properties to soothe dry skin. The boiled mashed tuber or powdered root extract from the vegetable, when applied on sunburns and rashes, pacifies the aggravated and dried up regions of the skin, leaving it soft and completely moisturized.
Combats Skin Infections
The oil derived from burdock root extracts has astringent traits. This helps in neutralizing the highly enflamed spots on skin with acne, redness, scars. It also efficiently reduces any boils, pus or carbuncles on the areas of the skin affected by allergies, fungal infections, environmental pollutants and sun rays.
Promotes Hair Growth
Burdock root has a multitude of vitamins and minerals which provide nourishment and vigour to the hair strands. Moreover, when applied on the head, burdock root oil penetrates deep into the layers of the scalp and protects follicles, thereby maintaining the thickness and stability of hair. Burdock oil is an ideal option if you are looking to gain long and strong hair.
Burdock root has potent chemicals that can reduce the intensity of flakiness and dandruff on the scalp of hair. It can also shelter the roots of the hair strands, known as follicles, from the dirt and fungus particles that trigger dandruff. Burdock oil, when applied routinely to itchy and peeling scalp and dry hair, can significantly revamp the appearance of dull hair, giving it an incredible sheen.
Burdock Root Recipes:
Stir-Fried Carrot And Burdock Root
1 large burdock root
1 medium-sized carrot
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame seeds
Remove the skin of the burdock root and slice it into thin, long slices.
Likewise, peel off the outer layer of the carrot and cut it into lengthy slim pieces.
Soak the cut vegetables in water for 10 minutes.
Heat sesame oil on medium flame in a frying pan, then add the burdock root and cook for 2 – 3 minutes.
Transfer the carrots as well and stir-fry for 5 minutes until the vegetables become tender.
Add the soy sauce, mix well and then sprinkle some sesame seeds on top as a garnish for an extra crunch.
Turn off the stovetop and serve the stir-fried carrot and burdock root hot along with warm rice for lunch, or simply savour it as such as a nourishing meal at dinnertime.
Bestowed with calcium, magnesium and phosphorous, burdock root fortifies bone and joint health, averting chronic conditions of osteoarthritis, osteoporosis. Carrots are enriched with vitamin A and carotenoid antioxidants that safeguard eye functions and enhance vision. Sesame seeds and oil are packed with healthy unsaturated fats that regulate cholesterol levels in blood and augment heart wellness.
Burdock Root Tea
2 tsp dried burdock root
2 tsp dried liquorice root
1 inch ginger piece, finely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp elaichi/cardamom pods
Pour 3 cups of water in a vessel, add the dried burdock root, dried liquorice root, ginger, cinnamon, elaichi and boil for 2 minutes.
Then lower the flame, close the vessel with a lid and let the mixture simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.
Strain the blend using a filter into a flask, pour the burdock root tea into 2 cups and sip on it hot after lunch or in the evening.
The remaining tea can be stored in the flask and remains fresh for up to 2 – 3 days when kept refrigerated.
Burdock root extracts are imbued with fibres, bioactive plant compounds that have strong antioxidant, decongestant and laxative properties, thus flushing out toxins from blood, mitigating cough, cold, fever and treating digestive disorders such as bloating, constipation, flatulence. Ginger contains the phytonutrient gingerol which is anti-inflammatory in nature and soothes joint pain, while elaichi uplifts energy metabolism, brain functions and sexual wellness.
Side Effects Of Burdock Root:
Burdock root consumed as a vegetable or in the dried powdered form does not trigger any major side effects when taken in moderate amounts as part of the diet.
However, some people are allergic to the burdock flowers, leaves, root extracts and hence must not consume them, for it may induce severe allergies, rashes, hypersensitivity reactions which sometimes require immediate emergency medical care.
Since the burdock plant activates blood clotting mechanisms, it should not be eaten by people with bleeding disorders.
Burdock root contains some powerful plant-based steroids which influence hormonal actions and hence is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Furthermore, as the bioactive compounds in the root extracts can hamper the effect of drugs in the system, burdock root should not be consumed by people taking diuretic, diabetic and blood-thinner medications.