Herbal Nerd Society Exclusive Article
Burdock (Arctium lappa, A. minus) is well known as a tasty vegetable that is commonly called gobo root in grocery stores. Once relegated to Asian cuisine aisle in the marketplace, burdock is regaining interest in the West for it’s capacity to act as a fortifying tonic. This herb has a healthy combination of medicinal properties that stands as a foundation for its use in many herbal formulas. It is rich in nutrition which makes it a favorite for adding to health rejuvenating recipes. It is rich in inulin, minerals and antioxidants. For those who prefer to add whole foods to their diets to promote good digestive health, weight management, skin healing. and control chronic diseases like diabetes and osteoarthritis, adding burdock to their recipes makes sense.
Most people do not realize that the inulin in the root makes it a hearty prebiotic. This soluble fiber is broken down quickly in the gut into short chain fatty acids. The fatty acids help pull minerals like calcium and magnesium from food to be absorbed into the blood stream. This, in turn, promotes a healthy immune system response and balances the pH in the lower tract of the digestive system. Inulin receives a lot of attention for restoring the thin layer of epithelial tissue that surrounds our organs including our skin. This tissue is vital in helping transference of nutrition from our diet to the rest of our body.
Burdock’s nutritional value chart shows an impressive amount of B vitamins and minerals. Just one root (raw)has 20% of the RDA of the water soluble vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). B6 is a commonly listed deficiency for pregnant women, patients with gastric issues and those living in high stress conditions. As with most root vegetables, the process of cooking has negligible effect on the vitamin content. The list of minerals is impressive. Trace minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese make a notable showing. The amount of B6 after cooking the raw root only reduces to 17% while making the inulin content, more palatable for those with sensitivities.
As a superfood, burdock is listed as having 6,747 μ mol TE/100g ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) units which places it higher on the antioxidant-rich charts than many of the fruits and vegetables that serve as poster children for ORAC ratings. The glycemic index for burdock is low, barely scraping in at 11. For context, 55 is considered the numeric value for the difference between high and low glycemic foods. Burdock is easy to integrate into meals, snacks and beverages. This, balanced with it’s antioxidant properties, makes burdock a great choice for those on a low carbohydrate, high antioxidant, or high fiber diet.
Counter-Indications for Burdock
There are no known counter-indications or side effects for burdock. Those with inulin sensitivities (or sensitivities to other short chain fatty acid foods) should avoid raw burdock. Those with inulin intolerance (or intolerance to other short chain fatty acid foods) should avoid burdock as a food or powdered supplement but may take it as a tincture or glycerite.