burdock root

My New Friend: Burdock Root


Let me introduce you my new friend: burdock root.

It’s amazing to me that I live in an area where plants, roots, berries, and mushrooms grow wild and I am fairly unfamiliar with so many of them.  I have decided that it’s time to change this. A good reminder: grocery shopping in the forest is free! One of my first budding friendships is with an earthy and lovely little fellow called burdock root.

Originating in Asia and Europe the burdock plant has naturalized in North America, now growing widespread throughout. Likely you’ve driven by, walked beside, or hopped over this so-called weed many times in your life. This member of the thistle family has elephant-ear shaped mature leaves that grow to be about 2 feet long by 1 foot wide along the bottom of the plant. The upper leaves are smaller and more egg-like in shape. It grows low to the ground, enjoying well-drained soil which it often finds in ditches and creeksides, and produces long stalks ending in prickly purple flowers. The plant may grow as high as 3 to 4 feet after its second year. The roots are the most beneficial and medicinal part of the plant, and can be found for sale in health food stores or Asian markets. It has a slightly sweet and earthy flavor.

Now, why the heck would you want to eat it? Burdock root is serious business when it comes to thriving health! The list is long:

  • It is a powerhouse anti-oxidant and is high in inulin (dietary fiber) acting as a prebiotic (good for your guts), a blood-sugar stabilizer, and regulating cholesterol levels in the blood.

  • It is jam packed with vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, niacin, vitamins E and C, iron, manganese, and magnesium. It contains a potent dose of the electrolyte potassium, which helps maintain blood pressure, heart rate, and cellular and bodily fluids.

  • Burdock is known as a blood purifier and for its contribution in treating skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, and is supportive for both the liver and gall bladder.

How to use it:

Now that I got all that informational business off my chest, here’s the good stuff you’re really after. I know, I know, thank you for waiting!

  • Make tea: burdock root makes a beautiful liver cleansing tea. Combine 2 peeled and chopped roots (4” long each) with 2 stalks of chopped lemongrass and 3 inches of chopped ginger, and cover with 12 cups of water. Bring to a boil then simmer it for at least 20 minutes (1 hour is preferable). Strain and sweeten with raw honey.

  • Shred into salad: add a few tablespoons into a coleslaw with carrots, cabbage, beets, cilantro, and fennel, or any other combo that suits your taste buds.

  • Simmer into vegetable stock: or throw a handful into your soup with your veggies. I love the earthy flavor in my miso soup.

  • Grate a little into your rice: rice salad, leftover fried rice, or just dice some up and pop it into the pot while it’s cooking.

  • Give a compliment: burdock compliments garlic, onion, ginger, turmeric, mushrooms, carrots, and parsnips.

  • Store it: wrap burdock root in a damp paper towel and store it in the fridge, where it should keep for several months.

Let me know if you come across some delectable burdock recipes, I’d love to know what you’re doing!