Burdock and I have a love/hate relationship. Although burdock is an incredible plant known its powerful detoxifying properties, it also is a plant that invites itself into our yard- the notorious burrs clinging on the fur of deer and elk, hitching their way into our garden, and our lives. If I had more grace, I would say I welcome the burdock wholeheartedly. However, I’ve battled against the bulk of burdock’s massive adult size as the mature plants have shaded out my annuals, and I’ve had two horrible experiences with those burdock burrs caught in my hair.
I thought about inserting an image here, but at an attempt to preserve SOME of my dignity, I’ll just say, beware the burdock burr when bending down to weed or when pulling up the plant to harvest the root. Seriously.
That being said, it is impossible not to appreciate a plant with so much medicinal value. According to James Green in The Herbal Medicine-Makers Handbook, he explains “Burdock is a ‘deep food’ and alternative that moves the body to a state of well-nourished health, promotes the cleaning of wounds, and removes the indicators of a system imbalance such as low energy, ulcers, skin conditions, and dandruff. As a diuretic and alternative, it works through the liver and kidneys to protect against the build-up of waste products and is considered to be one of the best tonic correctors of skin disorders” (35). Dang burdock… do yo’ thang! Burdock also is helpful in relieving rheumatism and gout, and used externally as a poultice, is wonderful for healing wounds and ulcers.
While the seeds can be used to make infusions for skin care, and leaves can be used as a poultice to apply to skin, I’m going to focus here on working with the burdock root. Follow my harvesting tips here. I’m intrigued by its capability to cleanse the body of waste and even eliminate heavy metals, so I’ve also delved into making a burdock root decoction, found here.
What you’ll need:
- fresh harvested burdock root (see here for harvesting tips)
- 90-100 proof vodka (45-50% alcohol)
- 1 large mason jar with lid
- several bottles with droppers (I re-use tincture bottles I’ve purchased previously or at Rainbow Natural Remedies in Seattle, but they can easily be acquired online or from your local natural wellness store)
- Clean and cut the fresh burdock root into small pieces.
- Place the burdock pieces in a mason jar, slightly over half full *The ratio of burdock root to alcohol is 1:2, meaning you should have approximately one part burdock root to two parts vodka.
- Add the vodka and firmly screw on lid.
- Let the tincture sit in a cool, dry place for approximately two weeks, shaking daily.
- Strain tincture through a cheesecloth and into your color dropper bottles
- Label and use regularly – dilute 2o drops of tincture in a glass of water, and take 2-3 times a day for up to four weeks to treat arthritis and skin disorders. Take on an as-desired basis (not exceeding previous recommendation) for general cleansing of the body.