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Arctium lappa Seed / Burdock

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Product Code: FPT-01044

Western Single Herb Tinctures


Traditional Chinese Herbal Actions:

  • Expels Wind-Heat and benefits the Throat

Herb profile link:


A review of the pharmacological effects of Arctium lappa (burdock).

Chan YS, Cheng LN, Wu JH, Chan E, Kwan YW, Lee SM, Leung GP, Yu PH, Chan SW.

State Key Laboratory of Chinese Medicine and Molecular Pharmacology, Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, SAR, People's Republic of China.

Pubmed Abstract

Arctium lappa, commonly known as burdock, is being promoted/recommended as a healthy and nutritive food in Chinese societies. Burdock has been used therapeutically in Europe, North America and Asia for hundreds of years. The roots, seeds and leaves of burdock have been investigated in view of its popular uses in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). In this review, the reported therapeutic effects of the active compounds present in the different botanical parts of burdock are summarized. In the root, the active ingredients have been found to "detoxify" blood in terms of TCM and promote blood circulation to the skin surface, improving the skin quality/texture and curing skin diseases like eczema. Antioxidants and antidiabetic compounds have also been found in the root. In the seeds, some active compounds possess anti-inflammatory effects and potent inhibitory effects on the growth of tumors such as pancreatic carcinoma. In the leaf extract, the active compounds isolated can inhibit the growth of micro-organisms in the oral cavity. The medicinal uses of burdock in treating chronic diseases such as cancers, diabetes and AIDS have been reported. However, it is also essential to be aware of the side effects of burdock including contact dermatitis and other allergic/inflammatory responses that might be evoked by burdock.

PMID: 20981575 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]


J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Apr 21;122(3):457-62. Epub 2009 Feb 20.

In vitro anti-inflammatory effects of arctigenin, a lignan from Arctium lappa L., through inhibition on iNOS pathway.

Zhao F, Wang L, Liu K.

School of Pharmacy, Yantai University, Yantai, Shandong, China.


Pubmed Abstract

ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Arctigenin, a bioactive constituent from dried seeds of Arctium lappa L. (Compositae) which has been widely used as a Traditional Chinese Medicine for dispelling wind and heat included in Chinese Pharmacophere, was found to exhibit anti-inflammatory activities but its molecular mechanism remains unknown yet.

AIM OF THE STUDY: To investigate the anti-inflammatory mechanism of arctigenin.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Cultured macrophage RAW 264.7 cells and THP-1 cells were used for the experiments. Griess assay was used to evaluate the inhibitory effect of arctigenin on the overproduction of nitric oxide (NO). ELISA was used to determine the level of pro-inflammatory cytokines including tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). The inhibitory effect on the enzymatic activity of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) was tested by colorimetric method. Western blot was used to detect the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and COX-2.

RESULTS: Arctigenin suppressed lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated NO production and pro-inflammatory cytokines secretion, including TNF-alpha and IL-6 in a dose-dependent manner. Arctigenin also strongly inhibited the expression of iNOS and iNOS enzymatic activity, whereas the expression of COX-2 and COX-2 enzymatic activity were not affected by arctigenin.

CONCLUSIONS: These results indicated that potent inhibition on NO, TNF-alpha and IL-6, but not COX-2 expression and COX-2 activity, might constitute the anti-inflammatory mechanism of arctigenin. Arctigenin suppressed the overproduction of NO through down-regulation of iNOS expression and iNOS enzymatic activity in LPS-stimulated macrophage.

PMID: 19429312 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]



Herb Overview

Burdock has been used for centuries to treat a host of ailments. It has been traditionally used as a "blood purifier" to clear the bloodstream of toxins, as a diuretic (helping rid the body of excess water by increasing urine output), and as a topical remedy for skin problems such as eczema, acne, and psoriasis. In Traditional Chinese Mmedicine, burdock is often used with other herbs for sore throat and colds. Extracts of burdock root are found in a variety of herbal preparations as well as homeopathic remedies.

In Japan and some parts of Europe, burdock is eaten as vegetable. Burdock contains inulin, a natural dietary fiber, and has also been used traditionally to improve digestion.

Despite the fact that burdock has been used for centuries to treat a variety of conditions, very few scientific studies have examined burdock's effects.



Plant Description

Burdock is native to Europe and Northern Asia and is now widespread throughout the United States as well, where it grows as a weed. In Japan and parts of Europe, it is cultivated as a vegetable. A member of the daisy family, burdock is a stout, common weed with burrs that stick to clothing or animal fur. The plant grows to a height of approximately 3 - 4 feet. It has purple flowers that bloom between the months of June and October. Burdock has alternate (meaning that the leaves grow on both sides of the stem at alternating levels), wavy, heart-shaped leaves that are green on the top and whitish on the bottom. The deep roots, which are used medicinally, are brownish-green, or nearly black on the outside.



What's It Made Of?

Burdock consists primarily of carbohydrates, volatile oils, plant sterols, tannins, and fatty oils. Researchers aren't sure which active ingredients in burdock root are responsible for its healing properties, but the herb may have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial effects.



Available Forms

Burdock products consist of fresh or dried roots. Burdock supplements can be purchased as dried root powder, decoctions (liquid made by boiling down the herb in water), tinctures (a solution of the herb in alcohol, or water and alcohol), or fluid extracts.



How to Take It


There are no known scientific reports on the pediatric use of burdock, so burdock should only be given to children under the supervision of your doctor.


  • Capsules: 1 - 2 g three times per day
  • Dried root: steep 2 - 6 grams in 150 mL (2/3 of a cup) in boiling water for 10 - 15 minutes and then strain and drink three times a day; may soak a cloth in the liquid and, once cooled, wrap the cloth around affected skin area or wound (known as a poultice). Do not use on open wounds.
  • Tincture (1:5): 2 - 8 mL three times per day; the tincture may also be applied to a cloth and wrapped around affected skin area or wound
  • Fluid extract (1:1): 2 - 8 mL three times a day
  • Tea: 2 - 6 grams steeped in 500 mL water (about 2 cups), three times per day

Topical preparations of burdock are also used for skin problems (such as eczema) and wounds.




The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.

Pregnant or nursing women should avoid burdock as it may cause damage to the fetus.

If you are sensitive to daises, chrysanthemums, or ragweed, you may also experience an allergic reaction to burdock.

People who are dehydrated should not take burdock because the herb's diuretic effects may make dehydration worse.

It is best to avoid taking large amounts of burdock as a supplement because there are so few studies on the herb's safety. However, burdock eaten as a food is considered safe.

Because the roots of burdock closely resemble those of belladonna or deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), there is a risk that burdock preparations may be contaminated with these potentially dangerous herbs. Be sure to buy products from established companies with good reputations. Do not gather burdock in the wild.



Possible Interactions

There are no known scientific reports of interactions between burdock and conventional medications. However, you should talk to your doctor before taking burdock if you take any of the following:

Diuretics (water pills) -- Burdock could make the effect of these drugs stronger, causing you to become dehydrated.

Medications for diabetes -- Burdock might lower blood sugar, resulting in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).



Supporting Research

Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al, ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, Mass: Integrative Medicine Communications; 1998:318.

Bissett NG, ed. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Boca Raton: CRC Press; 1994:99-101.

Bradley P, ed. British Herbal Compendium. Dorset, England:British Herbal Medicine Association. 1996:47-49.

De Smet PAGM, Keller K, Hänsel R, et al, eds. Adverse Effects of Herbal Drugs. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag; 1997:231–237.

Grases F, Melero G, Costa-Bauza A, et al. Urolithiasis and phytotherapy. Int Urol Nephrol. 1994;26:507–511.

Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C. PDR for Herbal Medicines. 2nd ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company; 2000.

Hutchens A. Indian Herbalogy of North America. Boston, Mass: Shambhala Publications; 1991:62–65.

Lin CC, Lu JM, Yang JJ, et al. Anti-inflammatory and radical scavenge effects of Arctium lappa. Am J Chin Med. 1996;24:127–137.

Lin SC, Lin CH, Lin CC, et al. Hepatoprotective effects of Arctium lappa Linne on liver injuries induced by chronic ethanol consumption and potentiated by carbon tetrachloride. J Biomed Sci. 2002 Sep-Oct;9(5):401-9.

Newall C, Anderson L, Phillipson J. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-care Professionals. London, England: Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:52–53.

Swanston-Flatt SK, Day C, Flatt PR, et al. Glycaemic effects of traditional European plant treatments for diabetes. Studies in normal and streptozotocin diabetic mice. Diabetes Res. 1989;413:69–73.

Tyler V. The Honest Herbal: A Sensible Guide to the Use of Herbs and Related Remedies. 4th ed. New York, NY: Haworth Herbal Press; 1999:71-72.

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