Meet Burdock - the burly bear medicine

We are in transition. Now is the season of change from winter to spring that we have been waiting for. Nature is not linear. She does not transition in an even and smooth trajectory from one season to the next. She pulses, spirals, and stumbles along the way, but she keeps moving and continuously arrives. During this time we are called to support ourselves in compassionate and nourishing ways as we too are transitioning from the darkness of winter into the time of rebirth and renewal. 

  Call on burdock, Arctium lappa, the burly bear medicine to cleanse your way into spring. The name Arctium is derived from the Greek arctos, "bear" and lappa is from the the Greek "to seize". Llap is also from the Celtic work for "hand". Burr is from the Latin burra which means "wool" and dock labels its large leaves.
  The most common traditional uses of this herb are as a "blood purifier" used to clear the bloodstream of toxins, as a diuretic to promote the production of urine, and as a remedy for many skin conditions and complaints. Native American, Western, and Chinese herbalists have used the roots and seeds of this plant for centuries! 
   Burdock is a slow moving but deep and thoroughly acting herbal remedy that offers us internal metabolic seasonal transition support. It is energetically cooling and wildly strengthening as an alterative - helping our kidneys, liver, and digestive organs to function optimally. Burdock increases the secretion of bile to support digestions of oily foods, increases the liver's processing of lipids and supports the distribution of those lipids to the skin, hair, tissues, adrenals, and hormonal system. It is said to calm worry, jealousy, resentment, and aggression.  
   My favorite way to enjoy the benefits of burdock root is to prepare a decoction. Bring 1 ounce (by weight) of the dried root and a quart of water to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15-30 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered for another 30ish minutes. Strain and enjoy or put it in the fridge for later! If that's too much work, you can pick up burdock root tincture at most health food stores and dose 3-60 drops 3x/day. 
   The fresh plant can also be enjoyed. It is a biennial plant, meaning it takes two years to complete its life cycle but various plant parts are used at different stages of its life. Burdock root should be dug from a first year plant in late summer and fall or from a second year plant in early spring. The stalks can be harvested and eaten (after a good deal of preparation) from a second year plant. Be sure you are wildcrafting well away from roadsides and areas that have been sprayed as burdock roots can easily accumulate toxins. Often fresh burdock root can be found at health food stores and international markets to throw in soups, stir fries, or grated and steamed in a salad. 
 

Happy Burdock adventures! Let me know what you discover!