Burdock
Burdock
This information describes the common uses of Burdock, how it works, and its possible side effects.

Common Name

Lappa, Wild gobo, Happy major, Niubang

How It Works

There is no evidence to support use of burdock to treat cancer, infections, diabetes, or other medical conditions.

Certain components of burdock were shown to stop the growth of bacteria and fungi in lab studies. In animal experiments, the root extract lowered blood sugar, stimulated uterine contractions, induced an immune response, and protected against DNA mutations. A clinical study found that application of a cream containing burdock extract improved the appearance of wrinkled skin.

Purported Uses

  • To treat cancer
    There is no scientific evidence to support this use.
  • To lower blood sugar in diabetes
    One small study found that burdock reduced proteinuria and improved post-meal blood glucose levels and lipid metabolism in patients with diabetic nephropathy.
  • To treat eczema and psoriasis
    No scientific evidence supports this use.
  • To treat HIV and AIDS
    This claim is not backed by scientific data.
  • To treat microbial infections
    Although certain compounds in burdock can stop the growth of bacteria and fungi in lab studies, human data are lacking.
  • To promote urination
    No scientific evidence supports this use.
  • To reduce wrinkles
    One clinical study found that application of a cream containing burdock extract improved the appearance of wrinkled skin. However, more studies are needed to confirm this effect.

Patient Warnings

  • Some burdock teas are contaminated with alkaloids such as atropine from the belladonna plant, which can cause undesirable effects on the nervous system.

Do Not Take If

  • You are pregnant (Burdock may stimulate the uterus and increase the risk of premature delivery).
  • You are taking hypoglycemic medication for diabetes (Based on animal studies, large doses of burdock may lower blood sugar even further.)

Side Effects

  • Allergic Contact Dermatitis
  • Case Report: A 53-year-old man developed anaphylaxis (redness over his entire body and dyspnea) one hour after taking boiled burdock. His symptoms resolved following treatment.

Special Point

Burdock is one of the ingredients in the herbal tea Essiac.