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The Seer's Path
Burdock is an herb, which most of us consider a bane to our existence. When in seed, we pull the burrs off our clothing, out of our hair or, (mostly what I do) cut it off a long-haired dog. If not kept in check, burdock can takeover an area quickly.
One way to get rid of it is to eat it. When young, the shoots are edible, either cooked like asparagus, or raw. Burdock root is frequently used in many Japanese recipes. When used as a food source, this plant is very nutritious because as it contains protein, vitamin B6 and many trace minerals. It is also cleanses the digestive system and the liver. Young thin roots (about as thick as your little finger) are scrubbed, peeled and cooked. The taste has a very fresh, “green” flavor, which may not suit everyone’s taste, but I do find it rather pleasant. Burdock is also pickled for use when not in season.
Burdock is naturalized throughout North America and attains heights of 2 to 8 ft tall. It is an impressive plant when at full height. Burdock is usually grows in waste land, vacant lots and in my case, my yard. The stems are thick and stout with wide spreading branches which have alternating elongated heart shaped leaves. It flowers in July and August with a purple blossom which turns into those troublesome burrs when they dry.
The parts of the burdock used medicinally are the roots, seed, leaf and stem. The root of one or two year old plants is dug in autumn or early spring. It is very thick with many smaller side roots, brown in color with a creamy white, slimy pith. I suggest cutting the root when fresh. Cutting it when it is dry may require power tools. When dry, store in a jar for future use.
It is used as a diaphoretic, diuretic, and an alterative. Burdock has been used since herbalists have been in existence and is still used all over the world as the ultimate blood purifier. The root and seeds are very soothing to the kidneys and relieves the lymph system. It slowly and steadily cleanses skin by relieving boils, acne, canker sores, eczema, etc. I have added the leaves to healing salves with good results for treating everything from diaper rash, cuts and scrapes to burns. Burdock may also be made into a tincture and taken orally; 10-20 drops is the recommended dosage. Since this herb has many beneficial uses, I keep it in my medicinal herb cabinet year round. I recommend that burdock not be used during pregnancy, since it may stimulate the uterus.
If you do not have any growing near you or you simply do not want to dig out the roots, a daunting task if I do say so myself, it can be found in Asian markets already prepared for use as a food. Look for the names Gobo or goboshi. It can also be found in health food stores where the seeds are used in cereal grains.
There are magical uses for burdock as well. According to Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of magical herbs:
The root may be made into beads and strung on a red thread to wear around the neck as a protective amulet.
Burdock may be a troublesome plant in the garden, but one I think you may learn to appreciate for all of its many uses.
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