What Does It Do?
Burdock originated in Eurasia and Europe and was introduced to the United States by European Settlers. It is now widespread throughout the US, especially in the northeast.
It is a member of the thistle family (arctium Lappa), and can grow as tall as nine feet during its second year. The flowers are purple, and the plant usually blooms between the months of June and October. The deep roots are brownish-green, and are the most important part of the plant used for medicinal purposes.
Burdock roots and leaves have been used for years to help heal many conditions, among them gout. Some of its beneficial properties are as follows – it is diaphoretic (makes you sweat), diuretic (increases the flow of urine because of action on the kidneys), an alterative (promotes gradual change to the organs it helps), an aperient (laxative), and a depurative (detoxifies and purifies the system, especially the blood).
It has antibacterial and antifungal properties, is anti-inflammatory, and helps get rid of free radicals.
In one study, burdock root was found to protect the liver cells from damage from taking acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is one of the main over-the-counter pain relievers suggested for gout sufferers.
Another study reported that burdock root can inhibit the enzyme xanthine oxidase, which is the enzyme that produces uric acid. This is the same method that medications, such as allupurinol and febuxostat reduce uric acid levels in the body.
What Does It Contain That Helps Gout?
One of the active components of burdock is sesquiterpene lactones, which are biologically active plant chemicals found in the essential oils of burdock, and have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Burdock also contains high amounts of the carbohydrate inulin (or fructosan), which is believed to correct irregularities of the immune system and reduces inflammation.
Who Recommends It?
Native American healers used burdock as a medicinal plant as a tonic and blood purifier, and as a treatment for gout.
Herbalist, both American and English, acclaim burdock as an anti-inflammatory, blood purifier, and pain reliever, and have done so for over 200 years. These three factors alone can aide in gout pain relief.
English herbalists, during the Middle Ages, preferred burdock root to sarsaparilla for treating rheumatism.
How Does It Work for Gout?
Here is a summary of the ways burdock root can help gout sufferers:
- It helps flush uric acid from the system, shortening a gout attack
- It stimulates the liver
- It promotes persperation
- It acts as a blood purifier
- It helps the kidneys and liver eliminate waste
- It is believed to stimulate the gall bladder and encourage liver cells to regenerate
- It detoxifies the kidneys
How Should I Take It?
Joseph E. Meyers, in his book, The Herbalist, suggested preparing a tea with a teaspoon of the root to a cup of boiling water, and drinking one or two cups throughout day, cold, a mouthful at a time.
It is also available in capsules from most health foods stores.
But Don’t Do This!!
A folk remedy for treating gout, written about by Michael Weiner in his book, Weiner’s Herbal, goes like this:
“Boil the [burdock] leaves in urine and bran until the liquid is almost gone; apply the sodden remains to the affected area.”
The only cautions to using burdock are as follows:
Since it is a diuretic, make sure to drink plenty of water when you use burdock. Keep your body hydrated.
The lactones in burdock leaves can be irritating to the skin, so if you are harvesting fresh burdock, try not to handle the leaves.
Women who are pregnant or nursing shouldn’t take burdock because it can stimulate your uterus and cause a miscarriage.
Diabetics should talk to their doctor before using burdock as it can cause hypoglycemia.