Herb of the Day: Burdock

great burdock

burdock seed

 

Burdock  (Arctium Lappa) can grow up to nine feet tall, but most generally is around the 3-5 foot stage in North America. Seeds are disbursed via the oval seed pods with tiny burrs on them. You frequently find them attached to your clothes and socks after a walk through a field or a forest.

Also known as:

Bur or Burr Buttons

Cockle Buttons

Grass or Great Burdock

Turkey Burrseed

Hardock

Niu Bang

Lappa minor

All parts are very useful and very healing as confirmed through laboratory studies.  The roots are particularly useful in treatment of acne, psoriasis, and eczema in salves.  Tinctures are known to be antifungal, antibacterial, and bacteriostatic (meaning that it inhibits the growth of new bacteria). 

Used as a blood purifier, it can assist with liver detoxification efforts, it is one of the ingredients in Essiac Tea, which is known to many herbalists as a treatment for many different types of cancers. It activates the pancreas, which in turn will help keep blood sugar levels lowered, detoxifies the pancreatic cells (the pancreas is a huge filter for the body). 

As a gut stimulating agent, it helps bolster a weak digestive system. It will help alleviate flatulence, and indigestion as well as act as a bacteriocidal agent in the gut in the event of gastro-intestinal infections.

Burdock has a mild diuretic action, therefore it will help the kidneys, bladder and urinary tract eliminate harmful bacteria or other toxins.

It can also be used as a tea to help alleviate fever, sore throat, coughing, a common cold, laryngitis, pharyngitis.

It has antiviral properties and has been used as a tea in alleviating the length and severity of chicken pox and measles.  With it’s antifungal properties, it can be used to treat ringworm and athlete’s feet, or skin surface candida albicans.

As a tea or used in salves, it can be used to help alleviate the symptoms of gout, rheumatism and arthritic discomfort.

Seeds are high in essential fatty acids, Vitamins B2 and A.

Recommendations for use will vary from one herbalist to another, but per Herbs2000.com and several of my books, about 2-4 ml of burdock tincture in a non-carbohydrate drink once a day, or using it in capsule form, 1-2 grams, 3 times per day is sufficient.

For use with urinary issues such as a urinary tract infection, kidney or bladder infection, or to help minimalize the incidence and severity of kidney stones, use a burdock tincture in conjunction with tinctures from cleavers, virgin corn silk, yellow dock, red clover, or catnip in teas.

While the healing effects of burdock are well known, and few side effects are known, it is in the best interest of women who are pregnant, not to use herbal concoctions or tinctures without the advice and consent of their obstetrician. Burdock can stimulate uterine cramping and should not be used by pregnant women.

PARTS OF THE PLANT AND THEIR USES:

ROOTS:

  As a decoction in salves and ointments for use on skin conditions.  As a tincture, in teas. Especially good when combined with other herbs as listed above. As a poultice, crushed or shredded, and applied directly to skin conditions, including ulcerated areas.  As a  wash, macerated, boiled, strained and cooled liquids applied to acne, eczema, psoriasis or other skin disorders.

LEAVES:

 As an infusion, in water leaves allowed to simmer in boiling hot water for 20 minutes, cooled and sweetened with honey to taste to aid in treatment of digestive, liver or kidney disorders.  As a poultice directly on skin disorders. As an infusion in oil, to apply directly to varicose veins.

SEEDS:

As a decoction, used in teas to alleviate fever, apply as a wash to skin conditions, as a cough and cold remedy and as a detoxifier.

Keep in mind when using burdock internally that it acts as a mild to moderate
laxative and diuretic and that it lowers blood sugar.

Leaves – harvest before flowering – used for stomach upset, improve digestion,
mild laxative, diuretic

Seeds – harvest when ripe in late summer to early fall – used for inflammation,
fever, mild antibacterial, diuretic, lowers blood sugar

Roots – harvest in late fall – used for cancer treatment (Essiac Ojibwa Tea),
cleansing and detox, moderate laxative, mild antibacterial, treat arthritis,
diuretic, topically for wounds, eczema and infection

Herb of the day: German Chamomile

german chamomile

German Chamomile

There are two plants that are known as chamomile—German Chamomile (which is the most popular) and Roman (or English) Chamomile. Though belonging to different species, they are used to treat the same conditions. Both have been used to treat frayed nerves, various digestive disorders, muscle spasms, mild infections, and a range of skin conditions.

Other names these plants go by are: chamomile, chamomile, wild chamomile, sweet chamomile, German chamomile, Hungarian chamomile, mayweed, scented mayweed, and pineapple weed. 

 

Some of the uses for Chamomile are:

 

  • Sore Throats
  • Chest colds
  • Abscesses
  • Gingivitis – inflammation of the gums
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Psoriasis
  • Acne
  • Eczema
  • Minor burns
  • Ulcerative Colitis – Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Chicken pox
  • Diaper rash
  • Colic

 

  • Internally, chamomile flowers have widely been used for herbal tea. It is so popular that it can be found in the tea aisle of most grocery stores. Chamomile tea has been used as a mild sedative and a tonic to calm the nerves. When a child is teething, chamomile tea can be safely used for both of these purposes. It will calm him and help to keep him from being emotional while cutting his teeth.
  • Other uses for chamomile tea are: Anti-inflammatory – used for arthritis, and other swellings.
  • Antispasmodic – used for intestinal and menstrual cramps, relieving gas pains, and a mild, effective laxative.
  • Vasodilator – used for fever, sore throats, the aches and pain of colds and flu, headaches and allergies.
  • Anti anxiety tonic.

 

Externally, chamomile flowers can be made into an infusion, which is especially good for the hair. They can be added to cosmetics as an anti-allergenic or made into an ointment for treating wounds or hemorrhoids. Dried chamomile can be used as potpourri and for herb pillows, and burned for aromatherapy. Other external uses are:

  • Compresses – for swellings, sunburns, burns.
  • Added to baths to relieve muscle aches, sooth tired feet, and soften skin.
  • Rubbed on the skin to repel insects.
  • Water plants with the tea to feed them and prevent some diseases.
  • Essential oils can be used as a flavoring, in making perfume, and to combat neuralgia and eczema.
  • Made into a paste, use it to treat skin irritations, infections, and burns.
  • Steam therapy for treating asthma, hay fever, and sinusitis.

 

Paste:

Grind dried flowers in mortar and pestle, add some water or unsweetened chamomile tea, and slowly add oatmeal as needed.

Bathing:

Place a handful of flowers in a mesh bag, hang from the faucet by its string, and run the bath water over it.

Natural Hair Highlights:

Thoroughly wet hair with unsweetened, warm chamomile tea. Wrap head with plastic wrap and cover with a bath towel. Keep head warm for 30 to 60 minutes to bring out natural highlights. Dry and style as usual. This will add golden highlights to brown hair.

Steam Therapy:

Place dried chamomile flowers into a mesh strainer over a pan of boiling water. Breathe the steam deeply to ease respiratory symptoms.

 

Children:

Children under 18 should use half of the recommended adult dose.

To relieve colic use 1 – 2 ounces of unsweetened chamomile tea daily.

Adults:

  • Tea: pour 1 cup boiling water over 2-3 heaping tablespoons of dried flowers, steep 10-15 minutes. Drink 3-4 times daily      between meals.
  • Tincture: (1:5, 45% alcohol) use 1-3 ml (100-150 drops) three times daily in a cup of hot water.
  • Capsules: 300-400 mg three times daily.
  • Gargle/mouthwash: make the tea above and let it cool. Gargle as often as desired. You can also make an oral rinse of 10-15      drops of chamomile extract in 100ml warm water. This may be used three times daily.  (dosage information via Herbs2000.com)

 

While chamomile is considered to be a safe herb, some people may experience allergic reactions such as hay fever, sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes. It may worsen asthma symptoms, so those with asthma should not use it. Those with allergies to asters, daisies, chrysanthemums, and ragweed may also have reactions to chamomile, as they are related.

Pregnant women should take care in using chamomile. It is a uterine stimulator and can cause contractions. Drinking large amounts of chamomile tea with high concentrations of the herb may cause vomiting.

Other possible interactions include:

  • Blood thinning medications – chamomile may increase risk of bleeding when taken with warfarin.
  • Sedative – chamomile can increase the effects of drugs that have a sedative effect, including anticonvulsants – Dilantin      and Depakote; barbituates; tranquilizers – Xanax and Valium; insomnia treatments – Ambien, Sonata, Rozerem; antidepressants – Elavil; and alcohol.
  • Herbs like kava, catnip, and valerian root.

Other medications – because chamomile is broken down by certain enzymes in the liver, it can interact with other medications that are also broken down by the same enzymes, such as: Saldane, statins (medications which reduce cholesterol, such as Lipitor and Xetia); birth control pills; and some antifungal drugs.