Burdock (Arctium lappa)

A native herb to Japan, this large leafy plant is now naturalized in much of North America and Asia. It is commonly found as a roadside weed and has large lobed leaves measuring about one foot or so long. The plant grows a large stalk in mid-summer, and by fall, has large burs that will stick to clothing or to the fur of animals.

This herb is mildly diuretic, hypoglycemic, antifungal, and antibacterial. It was once traditionally used as a remedy for such ailments as kidney stones and gout, but today is used mainly as a cleansing herb.

The antifungal and antibacterial actions of this plant make it particularly useful in treating skin disorders that may be aggravated by an abundance of bacteria, such as acne, eczema, dermatitis, boils, psoriasis, and dandruff.

Burdock is often combined with other herbs such as calendula (Calendula officinalis), echinacea (Echinacea purpurea), lemon, tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) and patchouli (Pogostemon patchouli) in order to treat skin disorders. Lotions, pastes, and washes are the most common preparations.

The antibiotic action of this herb stems mainly from the polyacetylenes contained in the plant's roots. This plant also contains arctiin, arctiopicrin, tannins, and a volatile oil.