The name Burdock is a combination of the words ‘burr’ and ‘dock’ (to cut) because the burrs it produces stick to everything, and you might want to cut it down before they form! I have read that a Swiss man developed velcro by modeling it after the action of the burrs and thistles that would catch and hold fast to his socks, pants, and everything they touched as he walked by. Burdock is also known as Beggar’s Buttons, and little boys know burdock as a great weapon to be launched into little girls hair (not so nice).
I have this theory that the things that we need will present themselves to us, and we just have to be able to see them when they do (that’s the tricky part).
I discovered burdock growing within 10 feet of my front door, and I knew that I should start paying attention to this wonderful medicinal plant. (Elecampane landed within 10 feet of my front door, all on its own, and out of nowhere too, but that’s a story for anther time.)
The root of the burdock plant is most commonly used, however the seeds (inside the burrs) are used medicinally as well. (Never eat the seeds raw with out first removing the little hairs that surround them, as I have read that they will stick in all over your mouth and are painful and difficult to remove).
Burdock is a biennial herb that flowers and dies after its second year. Harvest the root in the summer of its first year as it begins to rot from the center after the winter. Bring a nice shovel with you, because the roots run deep and are tenacious. I like to scrub and wash the roots, let them air dry, then chop them up before dehydrating them for storage. Definitely cut them up, because after they are dried, they are as hard a stone! The first year I harvested the roots, I cut them in strips and even then found them hard to cut up once dried. Pre-cutting them makes them easy to add to a decoction, and it is a good size to use when tincturing as it exposes lots of surface area.
Burdock is a good liver cleanser, and is therefore also good for skin conditions. The liver is a processing and filtering organ, when it gets congested, it can push things out to the skin to help process which can then manifest as skin issues. It is a blood purifier and blood tonic, it increases the flow of urine, and helps fight kidney and bladder infection.