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Arctium lappa, la bardane, planche botanique : Crédit Wikipedia


Burdock or greater Burdock is a plant from the Euro-Asian region but has spread to other temperate regions of the world including North and South America.

It is a fairly common plant that is easily recognizable: it can reach 1.5 m to 2 m high it has large heart-shaped leaves (varying between 30 and 60 cm long or more) green above and whitish on their underside.

The inflorescence is typical, they are globular flower heads (20 to 25 mm at the beginning becoming 35 to 40 mm when the seeds are formed) with red or purple flowers with red or purple flowers and whose bracts which enclose them are provided with SMALL FLEXIBLE HOOKS very effective to hang on to anything close to them, be it animal fleeces, or clothes.

By imitation, George de Mestral (agronomist in Switzerland) "invented" in 1941 the "VELCRO" or "velvet hook".

Arctium lappa, la bardane, port de la plante : Crédit Wikipedia
Arctium lappa, la racine de bardane : Crédit Wikipedia

Burdock is a biennial wild plant (the first year there are no flowers).
It readily grows near rubble, fallow land, abandoned places, in the bed of some intermittent rivers, usually in full sun.

Burdock is a traditional medicinal plant in Europe since at least the Middle Ages.

Arctium lappa, greater burdock has also been a part of Asian pharmacopoeias for a very long time (China, Korea and Japan), but there mainly seeds (or fruits) are used.

The root, seeds and leaves are therefore the medicinal parts of Arctium lappa.

There are other species of Arctium with a similar appearance:

- Arctium tomentosum, which has smaller, 1-2 cm, flower heads with white hairs.

- Arctium minus whose capitula are small a little oval (15 to 20 mm), cottony when they are young and tinged with green and then purple.
To make things easier there are also hybrids !!

In recent years many teams of researchers have been interested by extracts of arctium lappa seeds, burdock, including arctigenine and other related compounds that seem to have very interesting pharmacological properties.

They test them on animals but still rarely on humans (against diabetes, various cancers, Alzheimer's disease and inflammatory diseases of the colon or joints, flu).



ROOTS and SEEDS are the most interesting parts of BURDOCK.


Burdock has a well-developed EDIBLE ROOT that can reach 1m long in fairly loose terrain. it mainly contains:

- mucilaginous polysaccharides,

- a lot of inulin (diuretic and depurative),

- anti-inflammatory acid phenols,

- anti-bacterial and anti-fungal polyenes and polyins,

- a little essential oil.

Burdock root has been used traditionally to treat infections of the skin and subcutaneous tissue .

The methanolic extract has anti-tuberculosis power.

It is purifying, diuretic, promotes the elimination of uric acid in people with high level of uric acid (people suffering from gout).

An enriched acid-phenol extract could improve type 2 diabetes (increased glucose penetration into muscle cells, improved glucose tolerance without increased insulin secretion, French study).

The anti-inflammatory power of burdock root makes its use possible in cases of gastric ulcer (alcoholic extract, Brazilian study) and osteoarthritis of the knee (root infusion, Iranian study).


Lignans are the most interesting compounds pharmacologically: they are phenolic substances quite similar to yellow pigments (flavonoids), their chemical formula is fairly symmetrical because they consist of two subunits.

Arctiin and its active fraction ARCTIGENIN are the most currently studied substances (especially in ASIA (CHINA, KOREA, JAPAN) but also in BRAZIL and the USA) because they seem to have a lot of pharmacological properties .

The seeds contain little arctigenin: for example, 500 g of dry seeds of burdock give about 10 g of arctiin which will give about 2 g of arctigenin.

Patents have already been filed to protect extraction techniques, but the molecule arctigenin is everyone because perfectly natural and long known.
The hemi-synthesis of neighboring compounds of arctigenin is already made (they are rather simple molecules).

Arctigenin is absorbed by the digestive tract without significant transformation and is not very toxic


The total extract of lignans from burdock seeds is hypoglycemic (lowers blood sugar), but it is mainly due to arctigenin : there is improvement in glucose tolerance with apparently an increase of insulin secretion.

The profile of blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) is also improved.


Arctigenin and another molecule Lappaol F are actively being studied in China and Japan to develop new anti-cancer drugs.

Cancer cells need a lot of nutrients to reproduce, but some are able to do so while these nutrients are rare.
They have a chemical strategy that bypasses the limitation.
Arctigenin seems to act at this level thus blocking or slowing the development of cancer.
Another way is to modify arctigenin to make it act in the manner (but differently) of other widely used anti-cancer molecules (spindle poisons) extracted from madagascar's periwinkle (vincristine, vinblastine) or yew (placitaxel).


In animals (mouse) arctigenin seems to decrease the formation of senile plaques possibly by increasing the elimination of beta-amyloid peptide. This delays the progression of the disease in the mouse and improves its behavior.
There is still no evaluation in humans..


Influenza A viruses are increasingly resistant to oseltamivir (tamiflu).
An influenza pandemic for which one would have no vaccine or antiviral is therefore possible.
Arctigenin is active on influenza viruses (Japanese study).
It appears to act inside infected cells preventing the multiplication (replication) of viruses or their secondary release.
Arctigenin can act synergistically with other influenza antivirals such as tamiflu.


The use of arctigenin is thinkable:

- to alleviate disorders related to inflammatory colitis,

- to protect brain cells especially following a stroke,

- to protect the brain in cases of infectious encephalitis,

- in synergy with curcumin (extract of turmeric) and polyphenols extracted from green tea to prevent or slow the development of various cancers (prostate cancer and breast cancer).


They are edible when they are young but contain a germacranolide that gives them bitterness as they age.

They are depurative, and like many green vegetables, provide vitamins A and a few medicinal phenolic substances useful for decreasing insulin tissue resistance in type 2 diabetes.

The finely chopped burdock leaf gives a plaster formerly (before the era of antibiotics) used to accelerate the healing of mostly infected wounds.



Burdock root is a very old food that has become obsolete in Europe but is still very popular in Japan.
Better to eat the first season burdock roots.
The second year they are more developed but firmer and less tasty.
In Japan the roots are sliced ??and skipped a few times on the stove.
To improve their taste, especially if they come from second-season burdock, one can soak the minced roots for about 15 minutes in cold water.
The burdock root contains a lot of inulin, this carbohydrate is not digested by our digestive enzyme system but it is degraded by intestinal bacteria into assimilable substances.
This can be accompanied by a release of gas (carbon dioxide, methane) in the intestine; these flatulences are poorly tolerated by people with irritable bowel syndrome.

The young leaves of burdock are prepared in the spinach way, or in salad for the tender ones.
It is necessary to recognize the burdock precisely before consuming the leaves, some people having mistaken burdock and belladonna quickly found themselves in the hospital !!
The flower stalks and immature flowers are edible much like miniature artichokes.


Burdock root is traditionally used for its depurative, diuretic and antibacterial properties.


In cases of acne, recurrent furunculosis, oozing and slightly infected dermatosis, and even ulcerative wounds that have difficulty healing.

Examples of dosage :

- Decoction (40 to 50 g of fresh root minced in 1 liter of water, 10 minutes of decoction), filter, to drink in the day.

- Aqueous maceration: to preserve all the root's constituents use a preparation (40 to 50 g of fresh root minced in a liter of cold water, kept 12 hours in the cold), filter, to drink in the day.

- alcoholic tincture of burdock root (easier to use): in compresses on areas of acne or boils, and by mouth 100 drops 3 times a day.

- alcoholic tincture of burdock root: it is possible to make a tincture more concentrated (at 1/5), also used in compresses and orally 50 to 100 drops 2 to 3 times a day.

A treatment associated with a bactericidal essential oil is recommended ( tea tree oil for example), it is also necessary to check the absence of a diabetes, and to control well the intestinal transit.


A prolonged treatment is recommended.

Examples of dosage :

- Decoction of root and alcoholic tincture: same preparation and same dosage as previously in case of moderate diabetes type 2 (associated with a low calorie diet) and double dose to treat hyperuricemia and gout but for only about two weeks to renew every 3 months.


Burdock seeds are part of the Chinese pharmacopoeia where they are used in combination with other plants to mainly treat respiratory diseases.
We have seen above that it contains lignans with high therapeutic potential, but to obtain an effective dose of these very active substances you would have to absorb several hundred grams of seeds per day.
Nevertheless, it is known that chemical substances (for drug use or on the contrary pesticides) can act in small doses but over a prolonged period..

Examples of dosage :

- Alcoholic tincture of burdock seeds 1/5: 10 to 20 drops 2 to 3 times a day, double the dose if the tincture is 1/10 as most often in France.

- Infusion of burdock seed: one teaspoon per cup of hot water, a few minutes of infusion, once or twice a day (possible diuretic effect).

- The combination of 3 herbal extracts, burdock (root or seed), turmeric (powder or curcumin), green tea (infusion or extract of polyphenols) allows to combine their effects to protect the organism against viral and bacterial attacks , cancerous degeneration, more generally the aging of tissues.

Phytomedicines containing burdock root are available on the internet or in pharmacies.

Burdock root is part of the Anglo-Saxon medical tradition, it is found in several traditional medicines including the ESSIAC "mixture of plants to strengthen the natural defenses of the body.

In 2015, ARCTIGENINE is still in the study stage, it is just starting to be use in humans (example in the case of pancreatic cancer resistant to all treatments).
There is no commercial drug that contains it or therapeutic protocols that use it routinely.


People who are allergic to plants from the ASTERACEAE family should be wary of burdock.
This plant contains active substances whose action on pregnant or breastfeeding women is not well known, so it is contraindicated for them.
This precaution applies to children and young people under 18 years of age.


It is a wild and resistant plant that is easy to grow but requires space (these leaves are large and the plant is quite tall) and a very deep soil (no potted culture).
It is propagated from a spring seedling with transplanting seedlings, or an autumn seedling in place that will be cleared in the spring. It likes a deep soil, very sunny and quite rich (it is a neutrophilic plant).

Young leaves and immature inflorescences are picked for cooking.

The roots of the first year are the most appreciated, they are dug up in the fall.
The roots of the second year are medicinal.

The flowers are cut to avoid the dispersion of the burdock or on the contrary kept and cut when it fades to obtain the seeds.

Some butterfly caterpillars and slugs are fond of burdock leaves, but it is a sturdy plant that does not require any pesticidal treatment.
Burdock leaf manure (100g of leaves per liter of water) is recommended to prevent late blight on plants susceptible to this fungus.

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Burdock, Arctium lappa is a wild edible plant that has long been part of European and Asian pharmacopoeias.
It is depurative by its root, traditional remedy of acne, furunculosis and hyperuricemia (gout).
Burdock seeds contain substances with high pharmacological potential, it is envisaged to use them in the treatment of various cancers, diabetes, in the prevention of Alzheimer's disease, influenza or to protect the cells of the brain in the event of Stroke or viral encephalitis.