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Arctium lappa
[ARK-tee-um LAP-uh]

Family: Asteraceae

Names: Beggar’s Buttons, Clotburr, Bardana, Happy Major, Hardock, Burrseed,Personata,Great Burdock, Hurrburr, Hare-burr,Cocklebur, Sticktight, Personata, Love Leaves,Cockle Buttons, Fox’s Clote, lappa, lappa minor, thorny burr, clothburr, gobo (Japanese),Bardane (French), Klette (German), Lappola or
Bardana (Italian), Bardana (Spanish); Lopan (Polish); Niu bang zi (Chinese)

Description: A large herb, with tall stalk and huge leaves. Height to 10 feet and width to 3 feet. Flowers are round heads of purple on 3 to 4 foot stalks. Leaves are wavy, dull green on top, with fine, gray, downy undersides, to 20 inches long. Supported on stout stems that rise from a central location. Fruit is a sphere of brown-gray burrs. The taproot is up to 3 feet long. Blooms from mid-July to September.

Cultivation: Biennial. Zone 3. Germination in 6-10 days. Space 2-3 feet apart. Ideal soil temperature 70F. Soil, dry, medium rich, well drained, with pH of 5-8. Full sun. Sow seeds directly into the garden. Many herbalists mix wood chips and sawdust into burdock beds to keep the soil loose so roots are easier to
harvest. Harvest the roots during the fall of the first year or the spring of the second.

History: Scientific name is from the Greek words for arktos, meaning “bear”, and lappa, meaning “to seize”. The English “bur” came from the French word for “woolly” - “bourre”, and the word “dock” is from Old English, referring to large leaves. The leaves of Burdock closely resemble those of broadleaved dock and it was originally called “burdock”, a kind of “dock with burs”. Broadleafed dock and burdock were used by farm women who wrapped their butter in the large cool leaves to keep it from melting on the way to market, so Burdock may be a corruption of “Beurre [butter] dock”.
Velcro was developed by George de Mestral of Switzerland after observing the burdock seed’s hundreds of tiny hooks through his magnifying glass. It is mentioned in three of Shakespeare’s plays: Troilus and Cressida, King Lear, and As You Like It. The large heart-shaped leaves were once used as masks in ancient Greek drama to cover the faces of actors when they performed, which is where the name Personata may have come from.

Burdock is an herb of Venus and useful in love matters. An old charm directed a girl to pick a bur and name it for her lover. She then threw it against her skirt or had a friend do so. If it stuck, he was true; if it did not, he was faithless. The stems when peeled and eaten “increased seed and provoked bodily lust.” Yet another claim stated that the root, eaten with fat meat, cured lust.

Meridians/Organs affected: lungs, stomach, liver, kidneys

APPLICATIONS: Root decoction is used for skin disorders, especially persistent boils, sores, and dry, scaling eczema; tincture is used in combination with arthritic, digestive herbs, such as yellow dock, to detoxify the system and stimulate the digestion; also for urinary stones and gravel; poultice is applied to skin sores and leg ulcers; a wash of the decoction is used for acne and fungal skin infections, such as athlete’s foot and ringworm; leaf infusion is used for indigestion and as a
mild digestive stimulant; poultice is applied to bruises and skin inflammations, including acne; infused oil is used for varicose ulcers; seed decoction is taken for feverish colds with sore throat and cough. Used with heartsease for skin eruptions.

Constituents: Inulin, essential oil, resin, antibiotic substance, polyacetylenes, organic acids, seeds contain fixed oils, glycoside, chorogenic acid. Leaves contain arctiol, fukinone, taraxasterol.
Medicinal Uses: Western herbalists have long used burdock for its demulcent action, both externally and internally, and for its alterative effects on the blood and urinary system. During the Middle Ages, remedies for kidney stones contained burdock in the belief that a stony character in a medicine would cure the stony ailment. The Chinese find it more valuable as a healer of hot (yang) conditions. It enters the liver meridian and benefits spleen deficiency. Its diaphoretic and diuretic properties make it valuable for eliminating excess nervous energy, sweating out toxins, and cooling the heat of infections. They also use it for colds, flus, measles, and constipation. The Chinese also consider burdock to be a strengthening aphrodisiac.

The most popular western use of burdock root is as a primary herb in blood purifier formulas. It is also used to cleanse the body of uric acid and other residues that accumulate from rheumatism, arthritis, and gout. Seeds are sometimes used for skin problems. The shredded leaves have also been folded into egg whites and applied as a skin dressing to accelerate healing. Tests confirm that it kills both bacterial and fungal infections. French herbalists have used the fresh root to lower blood sugar levels in diabetics because it contains the easily digestible starch “inulin”. It is also believed, but not proven, that the root regenerates liver cells and stimulates the gallbladder. Burdock is used in many parts of the world in herbal cancer treatments, was an ingredient in the Hoxsey formula, and is one of the four ingredients in the Essiac formula.

Properties: mucilaginous, alterative, diuretic, diaphoretic (fresh), urinary tonic, demulcent, bitter, laxative, vulnerary
Energetics: Root/leaves are cool, drying, bitter; root is slightly sweet; seeds are cold, pungent, bitter.

Ritual Uses: Gender: Cold. Planet: Venus. Element: Water. Basic Powers: Purification, Protection. Specifics: Cast in house or magic room to ward off negativity. Add to protection sachets of all kinds. Wear a necklace of dried, carved burdock roots as protection against magic.

Skin Cleanser: ¼ cup burdock root, ¼ cup dried nettle leaves, ¼ cup dried horsetail. Boil for 15 minutes in 3 cups water. Strain. Add to bath water.

  Hair Rinse for oily hair: ½ cup burdock root, ¾ Tbsp horsetail leaf; ¾ Tbsp chamomile, ½ cup soapwort, 1 Tbsp nettle. Make a dry mixture of the above ingredients. Throw 1 Tbsp of the herb mixture onto a cup of boiling water and boil for a few minutes. Allow to cool. Strain and use to rinse hair.

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