Benefits of Burdock Root for Your Liver

Benefits of Burdock Root for Your Liver

November 18, 2019

Your liver has an important job, so it makes sense to do everything you can to support it. 

Fortunately, nature provides some fantastic tools like burdock root to protect the liver naturally. 

How Burdock Benefits the Liver

Your liver is an important organ, primarily functioning as the “purification plant” that protects you from all manner of toxins – from mild poisons to toxic medications.

Although the liver is quite efficient in its work, there’s only so much it can do before getting burdened and unable to fulfil its role as intended. 

It reaches this limit whenever the amount of toxins or harmful chemicals exceed the amount that your liver can process.

In such cases, studies have shown that there are certain herbs that can augment liver function and increase its threshold for handling toxins. One such herb is burdock.

While human studies of burdock for liver are limited, several animal studies have yielded significant results, explaining both why and how burdock benefits the liver.

One study found out that burdock protects the liver from damage by environmental toxins. In the study, rats with liver injury consumed either 900mg/kg once daily or 300mg/kg thrice daily of burdock. 

The results showed that the rats had decreased levels of liver enzymes, particularly Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST) and Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT).

These enzymes, AST and ALT, are markers of liver damage. 

When their levels are high in blood, it means your liver is getting damaged. So the fact that they had significantly decreased liver enzymes supported the protective role of burdock on the liver.

Medical reviews have also noted that burdock decreases the amount of lipids deposited into the liver by alcohol consumption or a high-fat diet.

Studies have also shown that burdock increases the amount of glutathione in the liver. 

Glutathione is an antioxidant that helps protect the liver from harmful chemicals such as those produced when prescription medicines are broken down in the body.

What to Do with Burdock Root

One interesting thing about burdock is that most (if not all) of its parts have medicinal value

Its leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds and roots can all be used therapeutically. For the sake of brevity, we’ll focus primarily on burdock root.

There are different ways to take burdock. You can make burdock tea, prepare burdock tincture, or use burdock capsules.

Burdock tea is widely considered the best for the liver. However, you can use tinctures for other benefits of burdock such as applying topically for skin conditions or on your scalp for boosting hair growth.

Teas are popular because they’re easy to make and have high bioavailability compared to most formulations.

Let’s discuss a few things you can do with burdock root.

How to Make Burdock Root Tea

Making burdock tea is simple. You can do it one of two ways - either purchase burdock root tea bags or prepare the tea from loose dried roots. 

Burdock tea bags are available in many grocery stores. You can also find them in online shops or at health markets.

If you want to prepare burdock root tea from dried roots, place about 1 teaspoonful of dried burdock root into a cup of tea. Add about 7 ounces of hot water and let the mixture steep for 5 to 20 minutes.

The longer you let it steep, the stronger it gets. 

Once you are certain of the strength you need for your tea, strain the loose soaked roots and enjoy your drink.

Some people prefer iced burdock tea. To prepare this, add about 1 to 2 teaspoonfuls of dried burdock root to cold water in a cup. Refrigerate the mixture for as long as you want, though 10-20 is sufficient.

How Often to Drink Burdock Tea

The typical daily dosage of burdock root is around 6 grams of powdered burdock root, usually taken in doses of 2 grams 3X daily.

When using burdock tincture, a dosage of 2 to 3 milliliters taken 3 times daily is recommended. However, it is always best to use burdock as directed by your practitioner.

Other Benefits of Burdock Root

There are several benefits of burdock root other than its ability to protect the liver. Most of these benefits have been proven by animal-based studies.

Because of this, some sources will tell you that its benefits are considered hypotheses since they’ve only been verified in animals. 

Here are some areas of health and wellness that show promising results with burdock root:

Burdock Root Benefits for Hair

According to the American Botanical Council, burdock root contains several constituents that are crucial for hair growth. 

Burdock root is rich in mucilage, inulin, essential fatty acids, tannins - all of which help to nourish both hair and skin.

Burdock root is also characteristically rich in vitamin A and essential fatty acids.

Studies have shown that vitamin A can work alongside essential fatty acids to prevent scalp conditions such as dandruff, infections, itchy scalp and inflammation, which are common inhibitors of normal hair growth.

A popular practice is adding burdock root tincture to water and then applying it to the scalp. You can also apply it directly and then rinse your hair afterwards.

Burdock Root Benefits for Acne

There are many positive reviews suggesting that burdock has long been a favorite for managing skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. 

Acne is a chronic inflammatory condition of the skin presenting with spots and pimples that occur mostly on the face.

Although there are several causes of acne, bacterial infections and inflammation of the oil glands of the skin are among the major causes.

Studies have shown that burdock root extracts have potent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that not only help in preventing acne and other skin conditions, but also in the treatment of these conditions once they occur.

The most studied constituent of burdock is arctigenin. 

Both invitro and animal-based studies have shown that this bioactive compound is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that is effective in treating acne.

Burdock Root Tea for Weight Loss

Burdock root has been shown to promote healthy weight loss. However, it also increases the level of insulin. 

This is quite a paradox because insulin is an anabolic hormone, meaning it encourages uptake of glucose by cells and storage of excess glucose to glycogen, which may lead to weight gain.

However, studies have shown that burdock root is able to control weight by causing significant reduction in lipid profiles in the body.

For instance, burdock root reduces the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol while increasing the levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which is the good cholesterol.

It’s also been found that burdock root increases levels of leptin - a satiety hormone that reduces appetite while modulating energy expenditure and metabolism of carbohydrates, thus preventing further weight gain.

Other Herbs That Can Protect the Liver

Besides burdock, there are other herbs that can be used to protect the liver from damage and/or improve its function. Some of these herbs include:

Milk thistle

Milk thistle is the most popular herb for managing liver issues thanks to its flavonoid constituent called silymarin. 

According to the World Journal of Hepatology, silymarin is a potent antioxidant that protects the liver from reactive molecules while also optimizing its detoxification abilities.

This flavonoid binds to the surface of liver cells and blocks the entry of free radicals into the cell. 

It also scavenges for toxins that have already entered. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of silymarin is that it increases the production of glutathione in the liver - the body’s “master antioxidant.”

Artichoke leaf

This herb is considered an important natural remedy for liver health. Its beneficial constituent is cynarin, a compound proven by studies to increase the production and secretion of bile.

Bile is one of the channels through which the liver achieves efficient detoxification. And just like milk thistle, artichoke leaf also contains silymarin.

Turmeric root

Turmeric is well known for its polyphenols that are both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

This herb has been studied mostly as a remedy for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease because it helps in preventing fat deposition in the liver.

The effects of turmeric in preventing liver damage are enhanced when it is taken simultaneously with green tea.

Its antioxidants prevent liver damage by free radicals and may also prevent inflammatory conditions in the liver from progressing to cancer.