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Is Burdock Root Bad For You?

Also Known As: Arctium, Gobo



Short answer

Burdock root is a nutrient-rich plant with potential health benefits like aiding digestion and reducing inflammation. It contains fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. However, it might have adverse effects such as allergic reactions or interact with certain medications. Quality and dosage are crucial, and taking it from reputable sources is recommended to avoid contaminants. More research is needed to fully understand its effects.



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Long answer

Nutritional Profile of Burdock Root

Burdock root, scientifically known as Arctium lappa, is not merely a plant but a treasure trove of nutrients. To understand whether it's good or bad for you, it's crucial to scrutinize its nutritional makeup. This biennial plant is esteemed in various cultures for its medicinal properties and forms a cornerstone of traditional medicine in many parts of the world.

Let's dive into the specifics. Burdock root is low in calories but high in several vital nutrients. Here is a breakdown of the key components per 100 grams of the raw root:

  • Dietary Fiber: About 1.8 to 3.3 grams, which aids digestion and supports cardiovascular health.
  • Protein: Approximately 1.53 grams, essential for repairing tissue and maintaining muscle mass.
  • Carbohydrates: Around 17.34 grams, providing a steady energy release.
  • Calories: Only about 72 kcal, making it a low-energy-dense food.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: It's rich in Vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese. Lesser amounts of other vitamins and minerals are also present, such as vitamin C, E, and iron.

The root also contains powerful antioxidants, particularly phenolic acids, quercetin, and luteolin, which can neutralize free radicals and may reduce inflammation. A study published in the International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases found the extract of burdock root to have anti-inflammatory effects, which suggests why it's traditionally used to treat joint pain and swelling.

Fatty Acids: Burdock root includes a small amount of healthful fatty acids, including linoleic and oleic acid. These may contribute to its purported benefits for skin health and overall inflammation reduction.

Inulin Content: Interestingly, burdock root is a notable source of inulin, a type of soluble fiber that serves as a prebiotic, promoting gut health by fostering the growth of beneficial bacteria.

It's important to recognize that while the root itself can be a nutritious addition to a balanced diet, the form in which you consume it (fresh, dried, or supplement) can affect its nutritional value. Moreover, portions matter—a higher intake doesn't necessarily mean a higher nutritional benefit and can sometimes lead to unwanted side effects.

Scientific investigations have begun validating many of the traditional uses of burdock, but it's essential to rely on current, peer-reviewed research to understand its full effects. Though burdock root provides vital nutrients, it's the dose that makes the poison—or in this case, the superfood.

In summary, when considering the nutritional profile of burdock root, it appears to be a rich source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which can offer numerous health benefits. While this profile shines a promising light on burdock root, further research is needed to elucidate its full impact on human health. As always, it is paramount to consult healthcare professionals before making it a regular part of your diet, especially for those with specific health conditions or who are taking medications that could interact with these nutrients.

Potential Allergic Reactions to Burdock Root

For those considering adding burdock root to their regimen, understanding the potential for allergic reactions is imperative. As a plant-based supplement, burdock root can act as an allergen for some individuals. The symptoms resulting from an allergic reaction to burdock root may include itching, rash, hives, difficulty breathing, or anaphylaxis, although such extreme reactions are relatively rare. It is crucial for anyone with a history of plant or herbal allergies to approach burdock root with caution, starting with small amounts to monitor for any adverse effects.

One also has to account for the part of the plant being used. The root is the most commonly consumed part; however, different people may react differently to the leaves, stems, or seeds. For this reason, detailed labeling of supplements is essential, yet not always standardized. It is recommended to consult an allergist if there's a suspicion of sensitivity to burdock root or related plants in the Asteraceae family, which includes daisies, chrysanthemums, and ragweed.

Concerns Regarding Contaminants in Burdock Root

Another angle requiring vigilance involves the potential for contaminants. The quality of burdock root can be compromised by the presence of heavy metals, pesticides, or other harmful chemicals, depending on where and how the plant is grown. Organic and wild-crafted sources may reduce the risk of contaminant exposure, but they do not eliminate it entirely. It is crucial for consumers to source their supplements from reputable companies that provide transparent information regarding testing for contaminants. Analyzing a company's Certificate of Analysis (CoA) is a good practice for ensuring the purity of burdock root products.

Additionally, the risk of adulteration with other, potentially harmful, plant species is a reality in the loosely regulated herbal supplement industry. Cases have been reported in which burdock root products were found to be contaminated with Atropa belladonna, a highly toxic plant also known as deadly nightshade. Trustworthy suppliers who engage in rigorous testing and quality controls are necessary to help mitigate these risks.

Furthermore, it is essential to understand that the environment in which the burdock plant grows can substantially affect its safety profile. Plants grown in polluted soils or watered with contaminated sources may accumulate hazardous substances. Hence, understanding the origin of the burdock root supplement is as critical as considering its potential health benefits.

In conclusion, while burdock root is generally considered safe for the majority of the population, it is essential to recognize and address the potential for allergic reactions and contamination. Individuals interested in burdock root should opt for high-quality products from reputable sources, ideally those that have been third-party tested, and should consider consulting with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement, particularly if there is a known history of allergies or sensitivities.

Burdock Root and Blood Sugar Control

When examining the intersection between burdock root and blood sugar control, it's crucial to separate anecdotal evidence from scientific study. Burdock root, a plant native to Asia and Europe, has a long history of use in traditional medicine for a myriad of conditions, including those related to blood sugar regulation. Let's delve into the research to discern how burdock root may influence blood glucose levels.

Gluco-regulatory Properties

Several studies have analyzed the effect of burdock root on blood sugar. One significant finding is that burdock root contains inulin, a type of dietary fiber that has been found to improve glycemic control. Inulin behaves as a prebiotic, fostering beneficial gut bacteria, which can indirectly influence blood sugar levels through improved digestion and glycemic response.

Antioxidant Effects

Burdock root boasts an abundance of antioxidants, such as phenolic acids, quercetin, and luteolin. These compounds can help combat oxidative stress, which is associated with chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes. By potentially reducing oxidative stress, burdock root may aid in blood sugar management. However, it's important to note that while antioxidants are beneficial, their exact role in blood sugar control requires more focused research.

Animal Studies

Research in animal models has shown promising results. A study published in the Journal of Biomedical Science revealed that burdock root extract significantly reduced blood sugar levels in diabetic mice. However, such results have not yet been consistently replicated in human trials, underlining the need for further study.

Human Clinical Trials

The body of research on burdock root and blood sugar control in humans is less robust. Some small-scale studies suggest a potential benefit for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes, but these findings are preliminary. Until larger, more comprehensive human trials are conducted, it's challenging to decisively conclude the efficacy of burdock root for blood sugar control in humans.

Potential Interactions

It's worth considering that burdock root may interact with blood-sugar-lowering medications, potentially enhancing their effects and leading to hypoglycemia. Those on such medications should approach burdock root cautiously and always consult with a healthcare professional before introducing it as a supplement to their regimen.

In summary, the relationship between burdock root and blood sugar control is marked by promising, yet preliminary findings. Inulin within burdock can be beneficial to blood sugar control, antioxidants may reduce oxidative stress, animal studies show potential, but human clinical trials are needed to validate these effects. Caution is advised due to possible drug interactions. All findings should be corroborated by additional, extensive research to provide definitive guidance.


  • Inulin-type fructans: functional food ingredients. Roberfroid MB. J Nutr. 2007.
  • Ameliorative effects of burdock root on oxidative stress and inflammatory response in diabetic mice. X. Li, et al. Journal of Biomedical Science. 2020.
  • Herbs in diabetes management. Yeh GY, et al. Arch Intern Med. 2003.

Burdock Root's Diuretic Effects on Kidney Health

The diuretic properties of burdock root have raised questions about its impact on kidney health. On one hand, as a mild diuretic, burdock root can stimulate renal function, aiding in the elimination of excess water and salts from the body. This process can be beneficial for reducing water retention and potentially supporting the management of hypertension - a plus for overall kidney health. However, we need to peel away layers of misinformation to truly understand the effects.

Firstly, it's essential to recognize the composition of burdock root which includes inulin, a type of soluble fiber, and various antioxidants. These components are thought to contribute to its diuretic effect. While inulin promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, it's the antioxidants that are particularly interesting as they help to combat oxidative stress, a factor that may affect kidney health.

In fact, a study published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine examined the antioxidants in burdock root and found that they contribute to its protective effects on the kidneys. Yes, you read that right — protective, not detrimental.

When looking at diuretics and kidney health, it's also important to consider dosage and chronic use. The key lies in moderation. Overuse of any diuretic, natural or otherwise, can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. When the kidneys are forced to work overtime to flush out water and electrolytes, it may strain them, particularly in individuals with preexisting kidney conditions.

Expert opinions suggest that while burdock root can serve as a natural diuretic, individuals with kidney disease or those taking prescription diuretics should approach its use with caution. The National Kidney Foundation advises that herbal supplements can affect the kidneys in unpredictable ways and recommends consulting with a healthcare provider before using them.

It's also worth noting that burdock root may interact with other medications, specifically those that are also diuretics or antidiabetic drugs. For instance, combining too many diuretics can exacerbate the risk of dehydration, prompting a potentially dangerous drop in blood pressure. A balanced perspective, underscored by clinical guidance, is crucial in these cases.

To offer a structured approach, here's a breakdown of considerations for burdock root's diuretic effects on kidney health:

  • Potential Benefits:
    • Stimulates kidney function and fluid removal
    • Can help manage water retention and hypertension
    • Antioxidants in burdock root provide kidney-protective effects
  • Risks to Consider:
    • Overuse can cause dehydration and electrolyte disturbances
    • May be contraindicated for individuals with kidney disease
    • Potential interactions with prescription medications, specifically diuretics and antidiabetics
  • Recommended Precautions:
    • Use in moderation and not as a replacement for prescribed diuretics
    • Patients with kidney ailments should consult a healthcare provider before use
    • Monitor for signs of dehydration or electrolyte imbalance when using

When diving into the depths of supplement use and kidney health, it's critical to do so with a life jacket of evidence-based research and medical advice. The diuretic effects of burdock root, while potentially beneficial, are best navigated with professional input to ensure that kidney health is not compromised in the pursuit of its therapeutic benefits.

Contradictions and Interactions with Medications

Burdock root, derived from the Arctium lappa plant, is often marketed as a detoxifying agent and has a history of use in traditional medicine for various ailments. However, even natural remedies like burdock root can carry risks of adverse interactions when combined with certain medications. It's crucial to understand these potential contraindications to prevent undesired effects and ensure safety.

Diuretics and Blood Pressure Medications:

As burdock root has diuretic properties, it can amplify the effects of diuretic drugs (water pills), potentially leading to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. The diuretic effect may also interfere with blood pressure medications, altering their efficacy and potentially causing blood pressure to dip too low. If you are on antihypertensive or diuretic medication, consult your healthcare provider before adding burdock root to your regimen.

Blood-Thinning Medications:

Burdock root may slow blood clotting due to its potential blood-thinning effects. Combining it with anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs like warfarin (Coumadin) or clopidogrel (Plavix) could increase the risk of bruising and bleeding. Individuals on such medications need to be cautious and should ideally seek medical advice before using burdock root.

Diabetes Medications:

The root contains inulin, a type of fiber that can affect blood sugar levels. As a result, burdock root may enhance the blood sugar-lowering effects of diabetes medications, which could lead to hypoglycemia (abnormally low blood sugar levels). Monitoring of blood sugar levels is recommended, and dosages of diabetes medications might need adjustment under healthcare supervision.

Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) Substrates:

Some preliminary evidence suggests that burdock root may interact with the metabolism of drugs that are substrates of the cytochrome P450 3A4 enzyme system. This interaction could either increase or decrease the concentrations of these drugs in the blood. A list of common CYP3A4 substrates includes certain cholesterol medications, steroids, and some antidepressants. People using these medications should be wary of potential interactions.

In summary, while burdock root is generally safe for many people, its simultaneous use with particular medications can lead to significant consequences. Health care professionals should assess the risk of interactions on a case-by-case basis, and individuals should not self-medicate with burdock root without professional guidance.

  • Diuretics (e.g., furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide)
  • Blood thinners (e.g., warfarin, clopidogrel)
  • Diabetic medications (e.g., insulin, metformin)
  • CYP3A4 substrates (e.g., simvastatin, prednisone, sertraline)

It is essential to note that while research on burdock root is ongoing, the full scope of its interactions with medications is not completely understood due to limited clinical studies. The above information is based on current knowledge and may evolve with future research. Always cross-verify with the latest scientific literature or databases that specialize in herb-drug interactions to stay informed.

Frequently asked questions

Burdock root contains fatty acids such as linoleic and oleic acid, as well as antioxidants, which are thought to promote skin health and may aid in reducing inflammation. However, while burdock root has a traditional reputation for improving skin conditions like acne and eczema, rigorous scientific evidence to fully support these claims is limited. It's wise to consult with a dermatologist or a healthcare provider before using it specifically for skin health.

Burdock root is a notable source of inulin, a type of soluble fiber that acts as a prebiotic, meaning it feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut. This can help promote a healthy gut microbiome. While other fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, also support gut health, burdock root's inulin content makes it unique. However, the best approach to gut health is a diverse diet rich in various fiber sources.

The safety of burdock root during pregnancy has not been thoroughly established. Due to the lack of substantial research on its effects in pregnant women, it is generally recommended to err on the side of caution and avoid consuming burdock root or its supplements during pregnancy. Pregnant women should always consult with a healthcare professional before taking any new herbs or supplements.

An anti-inflammatory diet typically involves a variety of foods rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. Burdock root contains compounds like phenolic acids, quercetin, and luteolin, which may contribute to its anti-inflammatory properties. However, no specific guidelines exist on the exact amount to include for optimal benefits. It's important to enjoy burdock root as part of a balanced diet and always consider personal tolerance and dietary needs. Always start with small amounts and consult with a healthcare provider, especially if you have existing health conditions.

Ask a question about Burdock Root and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • itching
  • rash
  • hives
  • difficulty breathing
  • anaphylaxis
  • dehydration
  • electrolyte imbalances
  • hypoglycemia

Ingredients to be aware of

  • atropa belladonna contamination
  • heavy metals
  • pesticides
  • other harmful chemicals


  • aids digestion
  • supports cardiovascular health
  • essential for tissue repair and muscle maintenance
  • steady energy release
  • low-energy density food
  • rich in vitamins b6, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese
  • antioxidant properties
  • anti-inflammatory effects
  • promotes gut health
  • may aid in blood sugar management
  • stimulates kidney function
  • may help manage water retention and hypertension

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Frontier Organic Burdock Root

  • Organic & Kosher
  • Supports root beer recipes
  • Cut & sifted
  • Sustainably grown
  • Bulk 1-Pound bag
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Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Joey Conners
Published on: 03-19-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Joey Conners
Published on: 03-19-2024

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