What Is Burdock Root?

Medically reviewed by Dominique Fontaine, BSN, RN, HNB-BC, HWNC — Written by Ana Gotter (via Healthline)

Burdock root

Burdock root is a vegetable native to Northern Asia and Europe, though it now grows in the United States. The burdock plant’s deep roots are very long and vary in color from beige to brown and nearly black on the outside.

Burdock root has been used for centuries in holistic medicine to treat a variety of different conditions. Traditionally, it’s been most commonly used as a diuretic and a digestive aid (1).

Now, researchers have discovered numerous potential uses and health benefits for burdock root. These benefits may be extensive enough to warrant using burdock root as a complementary treatment for certain conditions.

Burdock root benefits

1. It’s a powerhouse of antioxidants

Burdock root has been shown to contain multiple types of powerful antioxidants, including quercetin, luteolin, and phenolic acids (2). 

Antioxidants protect cells in the body from damage due to free radicals. They can help treat and prevent a number of different health conditions.

Antioxidants can also help to reduce inflammation. One study found that burdock root reduced inflammatory markers in the blood of patients with osteoarthritis (3).

2. It removes toxins from the blood

One of the most common uses for burdock root has been to purify the blood. 

Recent evidence has found that burdock root contains active ingredients in its root system that can remove toxins from the bloodstream. 

Research also found that burdock root effectively detoxified blood and promoted increased circulation in the surface of the skin (1).

3. It may inhibit some types of cancer

Burdock root, as it turns out, may not only purify the blood, but it may also inhibit certain types of cancer. 

Research has also found that burdock had “potent inhibitory effects” on cancer growth caused by cancers like pancreatic carcinoma (1). Another study found burdock root significantly interfered with cancer cell growth. 

While more research is needed to determine the full effects of burdock on different types of cancers and tumors, this is still a remarkable finding (13Trusted Source4Trusted Source5Trusted Source).

4. It may be an aphrodisiac

Another possible use of burdock root is as an aphrodisiac. In a nonhuman study, it was found that the extract of burdock root had an aphrodisiac effect. The extract enhanced sexual function and increased the amount of sexual behavior in the male rats (6).

Research is needed on humans, but anecdotal evidence supports this claim.

5. It can help treat skin issues

Burdock root has also long been used to treat skin conditions like acne and eczema. The root’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties can help resolve skin issues when applied topically to the skin (7Trusted Source8Trusted Source). 

There’s also evidence that burdock root may help treat topical burns (9Trusted Source).

Potential risks and side effects

There’s limited or no research available on the pediatric uses of burdock root, and its safety hasn’t been studied in children. Because of this, you should never give your child burdock root unless under the supervision of your healthcare provider.

Some potential risks of burdock include the following:

  • If you’re taking burdock supplements, take only in moderation. More research is needed to determine the safety of the supplement.
  • Burdock is considered to be safe to eat, but you should only buy it from reputable sellers and should never collect it in the wild. The burdock plant resembles belladonna nightshade plants, which are highly toxic. They often grow together.
  • Burdock root is a natural diuretic, so you shouldn’t take it if you’re dehydrated. You also shouldn’t take it if you’re also taking other diuretics or water pills, as it can increase dehydration.
  • If you’re allergic to chrysanthemums or daisies, you may be at an increased risk of having an allergic reaction to burdock root and should avoid it.
  • Pregnant women or women trying to become pregnant shouldn’t take burdock root or supplements.

Forms and doses


There are a number of different forms of burdock root available. These include:

  • fresh burdock root
  • burdock tea
  • dried root powder
  • burdock oil or burdock extract

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