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Articum lappa

Arctium lappa                          

Common name: Burdock

Family: Asteraceae

Parts used:  Root, seeds & leaves


  • Lignans (arctigenin, arctiin, Lappaol F & matairesinol)
  • Polysaccharides (up to 50% inulin) & Mucilage
  • Tannins
  • Sulphur containing polyacetylenes
  • Volatile oil (terpenoids)
  • Sesquiterpene lactones (arctiopicrin)
  • Nutrients (vitamins & minerals)
  • Flavonoids
  • Hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives

Medicinal actions:


  • Alterative
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-tumorogenic
  • Bitter
  • Diuretic
  • Hepatic & Hepatoprotective
  • Hypoglycemic
  • Hypolipidemic
  • Immuno-stimulant
  • Laxative (mild)







Medicinal use:

  • Used as an alterative to enhance detoxification pathways in the liver and increase cellular metabolism as a whole, and is thus used in conditions such as eczema, acne, psoriasis, and as a tonic towards the digestive system.
  • Considered a glandular alterative, is indicated in chronic glandular enlargements.
  • Has long been used as a food in European and Asian cuisines. The Japanese traditionally used it for constipation, syphilis, mercury poisoning, paralysis, to stimulate blood circulation, and as a diaphoretic.


  • Polysaccharides (mucilage & inulin) are soothing to the digestive tract and an immunostimulant.
  • Sesquiterpene lactone arctiopicrin is a bitter glycoside and antibacterial.
  • Lignans (arctigenin) exhibits anti-inflammatory activities by inhibiting inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) via modulation of several cytokines, and is gastroprotective. Lappaol F exhibits anti-tumor activity in vitro and in vivo and is considered to have strong potential to be developed as an anticancer therapeutic.


  • Decoction: 1 tsp root/cup, simmer 20 minutes, 1 cup TID for several weeks.
  • Tincture: (1:2, 40%), 2-4 ml QD, 25 ml weekly max.
  • Fresh root as food.
  • Note: Best used long-term.


  • Potential adverse reactions include dermatitis from topical use, and allergic sensitivity to Asteraceae family.


  • Use caution in history of bleeding disorder, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, hypoglycemia, pregnancy & lactation, and in diabetes as may precipitate decrease in blood sugar.


  • Increases gut motility, thus may theoretically decrease absorption of medications taken simultaneously.
  • May potentiate aspirin or anticoagulants due to antiplatelet activity (theoretical).
  • Potential additive effects with  anti-diabetic agents and diuretics.
  • May increase levels of CYP3A4 substrates.



  • Find a complete list of references for this monograph as well as images and a review of its evidence based applications in Dr. Marciano’s Herbal Textbook.


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