Burdock has been used for centuries as an alternative herbal medicine. Diuretic (urine producing) properties help “flush” the body as it removes excess water. Some cancer patients say it enhances quality of life. Found in popular cancer remedies like Essiac and Hoxsey formula. May lower blood glucose levels, which helps prevent and manage diabetes. Useful in treating skin conditions (wounds, eczema, acne and psoriasis) by mixing into a cream-like lotion and applying directly to clean skin. Reduces throat pain and is found in some cold medicines. Detoxifies liver, kidneys, gallbladder and lymph system. Fiber stimulates digestive tract, helping relieve constipation. Side effects include dry mouth, slowed absorption of nutrients like iron, laxative action and slower heart rate. Not recommended if you take prescription drugs or are pregnant. (Can stimulate uterus.)
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Vitamins – B6 (Pyridoxine), B9 (Folate) and C
Minerals – Manganese, Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, Copper and Iron
May help reduce symptoms or onset of diabetes, gout,
ulcers, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, acne, psoriasis and potentially many cancers.
How to Grow
A great leafy vegetable native to Europe and Asia. Very efficient because both roots and shoot are edible. Hardy and able to grow in variety of climates (warm and humid to cool and dry). In cold winters (down to 0˚F), plant loses leaves but regenerates them in spring. Sub-zero may compromise roots. Prefers well-drained, deep soil with light, sandy loam for deep rooting. Choose site with full sun. Needs soil pH close to 7 for best nutrient uptake. When preparing soil, avoid working in compost or manure, which may cause roots to fork out. Phosphorus helps spur root growth. Plant in site composted for previous crop and work in some ground rock phosphate or fish bone meal. When soil warms up (usually in spring), soak seeds for a half day to prepare for germination. Plant out directly about ¾ inch deep. Space or thin plants to 10 inches apart in rows 10 inches apart. Water regularly at first to keep surface moist. Seedlings pop up in about 2 weeks. A week after that, change watering regime to one deep watering weekly to promote downward root growth. (Roots go as deep as 2-3 feet.) When seedlings grow more than a few inches, mulch around plants to retain moisture and deter weeds. Harvest during any part of development. Expect roots to mature near end of summer or early autumn. Loosen soil around roots without damaging. Carefully wiggle roots out by pulling on tops. Harvest when mature, or they get too woody to eat.
Common pests are nematodes. To prevent, plant French marigolds (Tagetes patula) or Mexican marigolds (Tagetes minuta). Work them into soil and let rot before planting burdock.
Young roots are eaten raw similar to radish with a little salt. Older roots used more for cooking. Can be stir-fried, roasted, braised, pickled, added to soups, made into tea or used in a drink. Young leafy portions can be eaten as a green in salads and sandwiches.