“Burdock” (or simply Dock)
AKA, Gobo, Batchelor Buttons, Sticky Burrs
Getting out in the spring along the trails, meadows, fields and wooded areas of new england, I would always quickly recognize this Pesty Weed as I’m sure most of you would. But to the trained eye, the benefits of this weed is remarkable. It is often overlooked as a tasty vegetable, wild survival food, and a valuable natural medicine. It is highly nutritious. The roots being high in Carbohydrates, Calcium, Magnesium, iron, copper and dietary Iodine. Burdock also contains Vitamins A, B-complex, C, E, Vitamin P for blood building, Zinc, Silicon and Inulin, which I will explain later.
Herbally, Burdock is highly prized as a blood purifier, liver detoxifier and general hepatic herb, especially when used as a warm infusion. It is highly effective in the treatment of gout. It works by removing excess “Uric Acid” from the joints and blood. Excess Uric Acid is the root cause of GOUT. My brother has occasional attacks of gout in his knee and several daily warm infusions will dispel his symptoms in 24 – 48 hours.
Burdock has a remarkable ability to pull waste from the body’s systems, especially through the liver and biliary, (liver and Gall Bladder cleansing). It also pulls waste through digestive tract, (colon cleansing) and especially good at pulling waste through the lymphatic system and skin. It is used to reduce swollen lymph glands. Among Herbal Practitioners, Burdock is used extensively to remedy skin problems, because of its ability to pull waste and toxins away from the body through lymph and glands.
I have used dried chopped Burdock root, blended 1:1 with Sassafras root bark for a very pleasant tea to help soothe the endocrine system and the hormone producing organs, (Pancreas, Adrenals, Thyroid, etc) Very effective in soothing the pituitary gland, (a Master gland) . When trying to lose weight, indulging in a cup of this bold flavorful tea 30 minutes before meals becomes an effective appetite supressant.
Burdock also contains “Inulin”, (similar to Insulin, but not the same). Inulin has a dramatic effect on modulating blood sugar and can be a valuable natural tool in controlling Type 2 Diabetes with diet. Inulin is at its highest concentrations immediately after harvesting the roots. In storing the roots, the inulin modifies itself into other forms of starches. Inulin is also found in high concentration in the roots of the Jerusalem Artichoke, another fine wild edible.
As an edible, the thick center stem of the long wavy leaves are quite tasty in the young and early season plant. They can be eaten raw as a survival food, or can be used as you would celery, chopped in any recipe.
The roots of the mature plant are actually cultivated in Japan (Gobo) as a staple, and is a pleasant starchy root vegetable. When washed, peeled, boiled, and mashed, they become a creamy, (slightly mucilaginous) side dish, rich in Carbohydrates. Fresh roots can be washed, peeled, and sliced lengthwise or julienned and put into an interesting stir fry with other vegetables such as peppers, mushrooms, Ginger spice, toasted sesame seeds, Soy Sauce or Tamari.
Burdock is a very common Herb and can easily be found wild in most of Northern U.S. and Canada. Burdock is best harvested for its roots in the fall. Leaf stems are best eaten in spring or early summer. There is also a smaller cousin of the Dock Family called Yellow Dock, or Curley Dock. Which is a little more difficult to seek out and find but it is even more concentrated in its medicinal values.