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Rich with inulin and prebiotic starches, burdock root is used to help support healthy elimination, kidneys, and beautiful, glowing skin.*

Common Name Bardana, beggar's buttons, edible burdock, greater burdock, gobō, lappa, happy major, hareburr, thorny burr, ueong
Family Name Asteraceae
Parts Used Root, leaves, and seeds
Herbal Actions Alterative, antioxidant, bitter, diuretic, hepatic, minor laxative
Health Benefits Detox, Digestion, Skin Health

Burdock’s prickly burrs are the inspiration behind Velcro.

Benefits, uses, active constituents, how it works

While this clingy herb is commonly known for its ability to latch on, herbalists love burdock for its unique ability to help the body let go. Its roots are commonly used in teas, tinctures, capsules, and broths to support healthy digestion, kidneys, and glowing skin.* It’s known as an alterative in herbalism, meaning it helps healthy elimination in the body and supports nutrient assimilation.*

Rich in a dietary fiber called inulin, the root is often used in formulas as a prebiotic, which helps feed the gut’s good bacteria. By consuming burdock root regularly, you’re supporting your body’s lymphatic system, digestive tract, and overall health.*

Folklore & Historical Use of Burdock

Burdock is an international and generational favorite amongst cooks and herbalists. It’s known as gobō in Japanese, and you’ve likely tasted the roots in rolls at your local sushi restaurant or perhaps in a homecooked meal called Gobō Kimpira, where the roots are shredded and braised alongside carrots. In Europe, the root was used as a cooked vegetable or infused into beer.

Throughout Asia, where this plant is native, burdock is traditionally used to support the immune system.* Hildegard von Bingen, a popular prophet and herbalist from Germany in the 12th century, commonly used burdock to treat more serious conditions. More recently, the plant has naturalized itself in the United States and is used by some indigenous tribes, including the Menominee and Micmac, to support healthy skin.*

Botany, Species, Habitat

When fully grown, burdock is easy to spot. Its big elephant ear-like leaves are vibrantly green, and its prickly burrs make it hard to miss. Because this plant often shows up uninvited and loves nitrogen-rich soils, many farmers who manage pastures or cattle find this medicinal to be quite pesky. The seedy burrs have microscopic slivers that can cause pain and inflammation when they enter animals' eyes.

While this herb might have a complicated reputation on the farm, it’s easy to find or grow in most places in the U.S. It’s a biennial plant, which means it generally takes about two years to reach its lifecycle and can reach up to 10 feet tall. It’s often found naturalized in disturbed soils, like roadsides and ditches. Burdock is said to be native to Eurasia.

When To Use Burdock


Regularly to support healthy bowel movements.

Skin Health

Daily to promote radiant skin.


Throughout the day to keep kidneys flowing.

The Business of Sustainable Plants

Our business is rooted in plants, and for us, it’s a business imperative that we care for the ecosystems where these plants live and thrive. We believe that everything is interconnected, which means supporting ecosystems and the farmers and collectors who harvest and gather our herbs. Finding opportunities to reduce or eliminate emissions at the source, we support organic and regenerative farming practices as well as voluntary certifications like Organic and FairWild. These ensure the absence of pesticides, herbicides, as well as the ongoing sustainability of wild collection, and the health and livelihoods of the collectors who forage. Josef Brinckmann, Traditional Medicinals’ Research Fellow, Medicinal Plants and Botanical Supply, asserts, “Everyone has a role to play in preserving biological diversity. One way of doing that is by equitably supporting the local people to serve as stewards of the land.”

It Starts with Organic

We choose to source organic because we believe in the positive impacts it has on environmental sustainability, biodiversity, and overall ecosystem health. Organic helps us increase transparency while prioritizing consumer well-being and farmer success, which is key to producing the high-quality herbs we source. In 2021, we procured 2.73 million pounds of certified organic herbs, over 99.7% of our total botanical herbs purchased. Volumes were down slightly from FY20 due to timing of inventories received.

The impact from organic farming creates a vital ecosystem through improved soil health, water quality, pollinator habitats, and biodiversity. Organic farms also have increased carbon sequestration potential through long-term carbon storage in the soil, helping to mitigate climate change.

One of the benefits of organic that we most value is farmer health. We care deeply about the people who produce our herbs, ensuring that they are not exposed to synthetic chemicals found in conventional agriculture.

Fair Trade

We believe that everyone deserves a fair wage for hard work. That’s one of the reasons why we’re committed to fair trade. Traditional Medicinals® is a registered Fair Trade “brand holder”, “licensee” and “manufacturer,” and our products are certified by Fair Trade USA, an independent third-party certifier. We were an early adopter of Fair Trade, having launched our first fair trade tea product in 1998, just one year after Fairtrade International (FLO) was established. We continue to work closely with our network of producers to help them to implement fair trade standards and get certified.

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Additional Information

Legal Disclaimer:

The information and other content in this article are designed to provide a general overview of the botany, cultural history, and traditional uses of this herb. It is not intended and should not be construed as health advice. Every person is unique and you should consult with your health care provider before using any herbal product or supplement.