Dr. Hauschka

Greater Burdock

Synonyms: Lappa, Fox's Clote, Thorny Burr, Beggar's Buttons, Cockle Buttons, Love Leaves, Philanthropium, Personata, Happy Major, Clot-Bur
Scientific Name: Arctium lappa L.
Family: Asteraceae (Compositae)

Habitat

Greater Burdock is found throughout Europe, Africa, northern Asia and North America. It was introduced to the American continent by chance.

Constituents

Inulin, mucilage, polyacetylenes, essential oil, tannin, bitter substances, sitosterol, antibiotic substances, fungicidal substances, possibly also antineoplastic substances.

Description

To cling like a burr. Anyone who brushes against a burdock plant while out for a walk will soon understand where this not very flattering expression comes from. The tips of the involucral bracts, which seem to make up the greater part of the flowerheads, are adorned with stiff barbs which attach themselves firmly to clothing or to the coats of animals. The biennial herb can reach a height of three meters. Its often reddish tinged, branched and furrowed, pithy stem is correspondingly strong. The leaf stalks are covered with woolly hairs and carry heart- to egg-shaped leaves which are green and downy on the top and grey and felt-like on the underside. The leaves are very large at the bottom of the plant but get smaller towards the top. In July and August the plant is crowned with loose clusters of inflorescences. From the center of the spherical prickly heads which measure about 3 cm the bluish red flowers peer out over the rim of barbs. As with all Compositae the flowerhead is made up of many single florets. You have to look very closely to see that you are looking not at one but at many individual, tubular flowers. What you don't see is the strong fleshy root which reaches to a depth of 60 cm and keeps the burdock firmly anchored in the ground.

Burdock is very often found in areas which are spurned by more demanding plants: by waysides, fences, walls and dykes, on waste ground and on the banks of streams.

Uses

The medicinally used part of the Greater Burdock plant is the strong root which is harvested in the autumn of the first year of its growth. The burdock root oil obtained by extraction is used chiefly for the treatment of the dandruffed scalp. It is also used for disorders of liver and gallbladder function. In homeopathy Greater Burdock is used for acne and eczema, particularly for scaly disorders of the scalp.

The medicinal use of the Greater Burdock root goes back to antiquity. It was already recommended as a herbal remedy by the Greek physician Dioscorides. Burdock root oil has always been regarded as a traditional stimulant of hair growth.

Interesting Facts

Greater Burdock gets its scientific name from the shaggy appearance of the heads produced by the numerous hooked barbs. "Arctium" is derived from the Greek word arctos = bear, lappa means rough. The suffix "dock" in the common name refers to the large leaves which resemble those of dock plants (Rumex).

Greater Burdock can also be eaten. The young shoots make a tasty salad. And the roots can be eaten as a vegetable like salsify. During the war it was roasted and used as coffee substitute.

In Franconia, cows which were taken to the bull had consecrated garlands of Burdock attached to their tails to prevent witches from doing the animals any harm.

Incidentally, you can have fun with children making little dolls out of the flowerheads.

The plant from another perspective

There is something ungainly and dark about the appearance of the Greater Burdock plant. The green of the leaves appears darkened by a trace of black, the large leaves cast shadows around the plant, the barbs of the flowerheads appear like a coat of armor. The delicate, almost concealed purple flowers seem to stand in stark contradiction to this. The ancient healers did not see this as a contradiction, though, but as the ability of the Burdock to overcome the darkness and transform it into new vitality. Greater Burdock was therefore always used where the body had to cope with many toxins. This helps us to understand why burdock root is used in the treatment of rheumatism.

The plant in our products

 Greater Burdock plant is found in WALA Birch Rheumatism Oil* and Rheumatism Bath Oil*, for instance.

In Dr.Hauschka Birch Arnica Energising Body Oil it supplements the effects of arnica and nettles in preventing sore muscles and provides support during fasting and cleansing diets. In Dr.Hauschka Revitalising Hair & Scalp Tonic  it supports the metabolism of the scalp and helps to restore its normal functioning.

Prescribing Information

*Prescribing information for the preparations mentioned (the indications are derived from the anthroposophical understanding of man and nature):

Birken Rheumaöl mit Arnika

Cutaneous liquid
Painful muscle and joint complaints due to trauma, inflammation or rheumatism. Contains peanut oil.

Birken Rheumaöl ohne Arnika

Cutaneous liquid
Painful muscle and joint complaints due to trauma, inflammation or rheumatism. Contains peanut oil.

Rheuma-Badeöl

Bath additive
Painful muscle and joint disorders due to trauma, inflammation or rheumatism. Contains peanut oil.

For information on risks and side-effects please read the pack insert and ask your doctor or pharmacist.

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