Posted by Bangzkie Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Burdock is any of a group of biennial thistles in the genus Arctium, family Asteraceae. Native to the Old World, several species have been widely introduced worldwide.Plants of the genus Arctium have dark green leaves that can grow up to 28" (71 cm) long. They are generally large, coarse and ovate, with the lower ones being heart-shaped. They are woolly underneath. The leafstalks are generally hollow. Arctium species generally flower from July through to October.The prickly heads of these plants (burrs) are noted for easily catching on to fur and clothing (being the inspiration for Velcro , thus providing an excellent mechanism for seed dispersal.Burrs cause local irritation and can possibly cause intestinal hairballs in pets. However, most animals avoid ingesting these plants.A large number of species have been placed in genus Arctium at one time or another, but most of them are now classified in the related genus Cousinia. The precise limits between Arctium and Cousinia are hard to define; there is an exact correlation between their molecular phylogeny. The burdocks are sometimes confused with the cockleburs (genus Xanthium) and rhubarb (genus Rheum).The roots of burdock, among other plants, are eaten by the larva of the Ghost Moth (Hepialus humuli). The plant is used as a food plant by other Lepidoptera including Brown-tail, Coleophora paripennella, Coleophora peribenanderi, the Gothic, Lime-speck Pug and Scalloped Hazel. The green, above-ground portions may cause contact dermatitis in humans due to the lactones the plant produces.
Medicinal Uses Folk herbalists considered dried burdock to be a diuretic, diaphoretic, and a blood purifying agent. The seeds of A. lappa are used in traditional Chinese medicine, under the name niupangzi Burdock is a traditional medicinal herb that is used for many ailments. Burdock root oil extract, also called Bur oil, is currently used in Europe under the belief that it is a useful scalp treatment. Modern studies indicate that burdock root oil extract is rich in phytosterols and essential fatty acids (including rare long-chain EFAs).According to some European herbalists, combining burdock root oil with a nettle root oil and massaging these two oils into the scalp every day has a greater effect than Bur oil alone.Burdock leaves are used by some burn care workers for pain management and to speed healing time in natural burn treatment.Burn care workers hold that it eases dressing changes and appears to impede bacterial growth on the wound site and that it also provides a great moisture barrier.