Burdock herb root, Arctium lappa
June 10 2016 by Ray Sahelian, M.D. (index of hundreds of herb topics)

Burdock is a weed found in waste places and roadsides. It grows from a fleshy taproot and produces large, heart-shaped, hairy leaves and red-violet flower heads surrounded by numerous hooked bracts that form a bur-like cup. Burdock is an herb with potential medicinal value.

Concerns
Anaphylaxis due to burdock. International Journal of Dermatology. 2003. Division of Dermatology, Yamagata City Hospital Saiseikan, Yamagata, Japan.

Benefits

Brain and nerve cell protection
Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2014. Neuroprotective effects of Arctium lappa L. roots against glutamate-induced oxidative stress by inhibiting phosphorylation of p38, JNK and ERK 1/2 MAPKs in PC12 cells. Many studies have shown that glutamate-induced oxidative stress can lead to neuronal cell death involved in the development of neurodegenerative diseases. In this work, protective effects of ethyl acetate extract (EAE) of burdock roots against glutamate-induced oxidative stress in PC12 cells were evaluated. Also, the effects of EAE on antioxidant system, mitochondrial pathway, and signal transduction pathway were explored. Pretreatment with EAE significantly increased cell viability, activities of GSH-Px and SOD, mitochondrial membrane potential and reduced LDH leakage, ROS formation, and nuclear condensation in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, western blot results revealed that EAE increased the Bcl-2/Bax ratio, and inhibited the up-regulation of caspase-3, release of cytochrome c, phosphorylation of p38, c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK 1/2). Therefore, our results indicate that EAE may be a promising neuroprotective agent for the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases implicated with oxidative stress.

Cancer
Essiac for cancer?
Treatmentupdate 1998.
An analysis of a mixture of herbs in Essiac, an alternative-medicine anti-cancer therapy, has shown it contains a variety of compounds which have antioxidant activity as well as the ability to block cell growth. The Essiac mixture contains burdock root, Indian rhubarb, sheep sorrel, inner bark of slippery elm, watercress, blessed thistle, red clover, and kelp. A review of patients taking Essiac shows that there was no obvious toxicity. Clinical trials are recommended to determine Essiac's efficacy.

J Nat Med. 2015. In vitro and in vivo antimutagenic effects of DIG, a herbal preparation of Berberis vulgaris, Taraxacum officinale and Arctium lappa, against mitomycin C. DIG, a liquid herbal preparation made from a mixture of diluted mother tinctures of Berberis vulgaris, Taraxacum officinale and Arctium lappa, was assessed for its antimutagenic properties against mitomycin C. DIG reduced micronuclei levels in mouse erythrocytes and suppressed >80 % of DNA strand breaks in the liver, kidney, lung, brain and testicles of mice exposed to mitomycin C.

Diabetes, blood sugar
J Agric Food Chem. 2014. Chemical Analysis and Antihyperglycemic Activity of an Original Extract from Burdock Root (Arctium lappa). In the present study, we obtained a dried burdock root extract (DBRE) rich in caffeoylquinic acids derivatives.

Liver protection
Hepatoprotective effects of Arctium lappa on liver injuries induced by chronic ethanol consumption and potentiated by carbon tetrachloride.
J Biomed Sci. 2002.
Arctium lappa Linne ( burdock ) is a perennial herb which is popularly cultivated as a vegetable. In order to evaluate its hepatoprotective effects, a group of rats was fed a liquid ethanol diet (4 g of absolute ethanol/ 80 ml of liquid basal diet) for 28 days and another group received a single intraperitoneal injection of carbon tetrachloride (CCl(4)) in order to potentiate the liver damage on the 21st day (1 day before the beginning of burdock treatment). Control group rats were given a liquid basal diet which did not contain absolute ethanol. When 300 mg/kg burdock was administered orally 3 times per day in both the 1-day and 7-day treatment groups, some biochemical and histopathological parameters were significantly altered, both in the ethanol group and the groups receiving ethanol supplemented with CCl(4). burdock significantly improved various pathological and biochemical parameters which were worsened by ethanol plus CCl4-induced liver damage, such as the ethanol plus CCl(4)-induced decreases in total cytochrome P-450 content and NADPH-cytochrome c reductase activity, increases in serum triglyceride levels and lipid peroxidation (the deleterious peroxidative and toxic malondialdehyde metabolite may be produced in quantity) and elevation of serum transaminase levels. It could even restore the glutathione content and affect the histopathological lesions. These results tended to imply that the hepatotoxicity induced by ethanol and potentiated by CCl4 could be alleviated with 1 and 7 days of burdock treatment. The hepatoprotective mechanism of burdock could be attributed, at least in part, to its antioxidative activity, which decreases the oxidative stress of liver cells, or to other unknown protective mechanism(s).

Hepatoprotective Effect of Arctium lappa Root Extract on Cadmium Toxicity in Adult Wistar Rats. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2014 Aug;

Sexual benefit, impotence, aphrodisiac
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012. Effect of aqueous extract of Arctium lappa (burdock) roots on the sexual behavior of male rats. The results of this study demonstrate that aqueous extract of Arctium lappa roots enhances sexual behavior in male rats. The aphrodisiac effects of the plant extract may be related to the presence of flavonoids, saponins, lignans and alkaloids, acting via a multitude of central and peripheral mechanisms. These results thus support the traditional use of burdock root extract for treating impotence and sterility.

School of Life Sciences, Shandong University, Jinan, PR China.  Arctium lappa root has traditionally been recommended as an aphrodisiac agent. It is used to treat impotence and sterility in China, and Native Americans included the root in herbal preparations for women in labor. However, its use has not been scientifically validated. The present study therefore investigated the effects of aqueous extract of Arctium lappa roots on sexual behavior in normal male rats. Seventy-five albino male rats were randomly divided into five groups of 15 rats each. Rats in group 1 (control) were administered distilled water (vehicle), group 2 received 60 mg/kg body weight sildenafil citrate (Viagra), while those in groups 3, 4, and 5 were given 300, 600, and 1,200 mg/kg body weight, respectively, of aqueous extract of Arctium lappa roots in the same volume. Female albino rats were made receptive by hormonal treatment. Sexual behavior parameters in male rats were monitored on days 3, 7 and 15 by pairing with receptive females (1:3). Male serum testosterone concentrations and potency were also determined. Oral administration of Arctium lappa roots extract at 600 and 1,200 mg/kg body weight significantly increased the frequencies of mount, intromission, and ejaculation frequency. The latencies of mount and intromission were significantly reduced and ejaculation latency was prolonged. Administration of the extract also reduced the post-ejaculatory interval. The standard drug (Viagra) was more effective than the extract. The extract significantly increased the frequencies of all components of penile reflexes as well as serum testosterone levels, compared with the distilled water controls. The results of this study demonstrate that aqueous extract of Arctium lappa roots enhances sexual behavior in male rats. The aphrodisiac effects of the plant extract may be related to the presence of flavonoids, saponins, lignans and alkaloids, acting via a multitude of central and peripheral mechanisms. These results thus support the traditional use burdock root extract for treating impotence and sterility.

Burdock seed compounds
A new butyrolactone sesquilignan, isolappaol C, together with four known lignans, lappaol C, lappaol D, lappaol F, and diarctigenin, have been isolated from the methanolic extract of the seeds from the Arctium lappa plant.