Plant of the Month - Burdock

Plant of the Month - Burdock

 With spring slowly moving into our lands, the first shoots and rosettes of precious green are piercing through the leaf litter, offering support to embrace this beautiful transitional season. Burdock is one of my favorite plants to work with in early spring. Arctium lappa stores deep nourishment and purification in its long, sweet and bitter roots. Digging burdock is a great spring workout, as the roots can be up to 2 feet long, and the effort is totally worth it.


Burdock’s Life and Harvest 

Burdock is a bi-annual plant with a two year life cycle. In the first year, the plant will only grow large leaves and die back in the fall. In the following spring it will grow new leaves from the same rootstock and later in the summer develop seeds protected by the famous burr (the original inspiration for velcro) that clings to animal hair and clothes. Then the plant will die back for good.

As a general guideline, we harvest roots in early spring and late fall, when most of the plant’s energy and medicine is stored in the ground. Harvesting roots of bi-annual plants involves a finer art of timing. Harvest burdock only in the fall of the first year or in the spring of the second year. At the end of the second year all the energy of the plant has been spent on developing seeds and the plant has already started to die, with little medicine left to offer in its roots.


Healing Roots for Liver and Blood

 One of burdock's most renowned attributes is its ability to purify the blood and detoxify the body. Burdock stimulates the lymphatic system and supports the liver in eliminating toxins by increasing its metabolism. The diuretic properties aid in flushing out waste products, making it a valuable ally during any cleanse and detox regimen. We add burdock to our Detox Tea and Detox Formula, both wonderful allies to wake our bodies from winter slumber.


Soothe Thy Skin

 For centuries, burdock has been revered for its skin-nourishing properties. Burdock’s liver support allows for waste products to leave the body, rather than being pushed out to the periphery, AKA the skin. Whether brewed into a tea, infused into oils, or applied topically as a poultice, the root has been used to alleviate various skin conditions, including acne, eczema, psoriasis and dry skin. Its anti-inflammatory qualities help soothe irritation, promote healing, and restore skin health, earning it a spot light in natural skincare formulations. At Raven Crest, we add burdock to our Skin Deep tincture blend to help ease inflammation and support healthy, glowing skin.


Belly Bliss

In the realm of digestive health, burdock shines as a gentle yet effective tonic. Rich in prebiotic fibers, it nourishes beneficial gut bacteria, supports digestion, and helps alleviate common gastrointestinal complaints such as bloating, indigestion, and constipation. Additionally, burdock root's bitter constituents stimulate digestive juices and promoting overall digestive wellness. The oils in burdock increase bile production, improving digestion of fats and supporting health of liver and gallbladder. Our Better Bitters formula include burdock amongst other bitter roots and seeds to prep the digestive system for optimal absorption of nutrients.


Burdock in the Kitchen

Burdock is a delicious addition to brothy foods. A tablespoon of the dried root gives a very distinct earthy taste to bone or vegetable broth. Thinly sliced fresh burdock root works well in hardy soups and stews. Japanese cuisine uses fermented burdock root strips in sushi and fresh slices in ramen soup. The fresh root tastes great in roasted root vegetables, and a side dish of cooked and mashed burdock root is real treat. Burdock combines well in tea with red clover, dandelion root, fennel, peppermint and mugwort as a post meal tummy tamer tea.



Whether brewed into teas, infused into oils or tinctures, or savored as a culinary delight, burdock offers its potent medicine in many forms. Inside its prickly exterior lies a wellspring of healing waiting to be discovered by those willing to dig deep for the beautiful roots.