Burdock Oil: Benefits, Uses, Properties, and Side Effects
Extracted from an exotic weed that has spread to four sides of the globe, Burdock oil benefits are abundant. From maintaining a beautiful skin, promoting hair growth, or treating some severe disease like diabetes and cancer, burdock can do wonders.
In fact, people across the world have praised the benefits of burdock oil and its roots for centuries. Be it medicine or culinary, it has a wide range of application. The plant with almost 3000 years of global reputation has been a part of nearly all the systems of medicine.
Let us learn more about its therapeutic properties, benefits, chemical composition, and much more.
What Is Burdock Oil?
Burdock oil, also known as burdock root oil is extracted from a biennial plant called Arctium lappa. The plant is native to Eurasia. However, the plant has vigorously spread across the globe. It belongs to the family Asteraceae – a family of flowering plants (1).
Heart-shaped large leaves, sturdy stem, purple flowers, and spherical seeds with burrs characterize this plant. The burrs stick to the animal furs and are carried long distances. These burrs are mostly allergic to humans, horses, and dogs.
Wild burdock is commonly found in roadsides, forests, wastelands, and farm areas. The burdock plants have been used for its therapeutic properties for thousands of years.
From detoxifying the blood and lymphatic system to promoting hair growth, burdock is an excellent immune regulator. It supports the overall well-being of a human. The roots and leaves of the plant are edible. Burdock essential oil is extracted from the plant roots through steam distillation.
Scientific Name Of Burdock Oil
Arctium lappa L.
History Of Burdock Oil
An all-purpose old world weed, Burdock is therapeutically used since time immemorial. Native to Eurasia, the plant became naturalized across the world.
Many indigenous tribes of America have used this plant as medicine and dietary ingredient. Burdock root was used as a blood cleanser as well as to treat rheumatism. The root was also dried and stored to consume during winter days. In earlier days, its were also known as poor man’s potatoes.
In Japan, Burdock is one of the much-consumed food. It is called "gobo" in Japan, and the Japanese use it as a diuretic and blood purifier.
Though its roots are the most commonly consumed part of the plant, the leaves can also be taken either cooked or uncooked. The Japanese included the burdock plant in their soups, salads, and pickles. (2)
Ancient healers of India, Europe, and China prescribed Burdock as a tonic and detoxifier. As a tonic, burdock boosts the immune system. In addition, it was prescribed for other ailments such as constipation, hair loss, kidney stones, gout, arthritis, urinary problems, respiratory disorders, cold, cough, and much more.
Due to an extensive research on the plant, the modern usage of burdock has increased. From detoxification to lymph circulation to treating skin ailments, burdock root extracts and oils are used for various purposes.
While it can be consumed as an herbal tea, its extracts are made into tinctures and capsules as well.
Colour, Consistency, and Smell of Burdock Oil
- The color of burdock oil is light yellow-brown.
- The consistency of burdock oil is thin to medium.
- The smell of burdock oil is sweet, earthy, and herbaceous
Properties Of Burdock Essential Oil
The therapeutic properties of burdock oil include (3):
- Antidepressant - Alleviates depression
- Anti-infectious - Prevents infections
- Antimicrobial - Inhibits the growth of microorganisms
- Anti-inflammatory - Alleviates inflammation
- Antioxidant - Inhibits the process of oxidation
- Anti-rheumatic - Relieves symptoms associated with rheumatic conditions
- Antiseptic - Destroys microbes and prevents their development
- Tonic - Invigorates, refreshes, restores the bodily functions
- Vasodilatory - Promotes the dilation of blood vessels
- Immunostimulant - Stimulates the action of the immune system
- Circulatory - Promotes the flow of blood and lymph
- Diuretic - Promotes the removal of excess water from the body
- Diaphoretic - Promotes perspiration
- Mild Laxative - Assists in bowel elimination
- Depurative - Cleanser, detoxifier
Chemical Compounds In Burdock Oil
The leaves and roots are the primary sources of burdock essential oil. Burdock plant has numerous chemical constituents. These include glycosides, flavonoids, tannins, volatile oil, sesquiterpene, polyacetylenes (which combats bacterial infections), resin, mucilage, inulin, alkaloids, essential oils, phytosterols, and caffeic acid derivatives (4, 5, 6).
Benefits Of Burdock Oil
Though there are abundant uses and benefits of burdock oil, the important ones include:
1. Promotes hair health
With changes in lifestyle, food, and climatic conditions, a condition like "alopecia" has become more common among youngsters. However, burdock can come to rescue. It is an excellent anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agent. It contains Vitamin A and essential fatty acids.
Topical application of burdock oil prevents the death of hair follicles and helps in improving the blood flow around the scalp.
Research claims that using burdock oil on the scalp facilitates oxygen and supplies necessary nutrients to reach the hair follicles. This, in turn, also helps in reducing stress.
Besides promoting hair growth, burdock fights dandruff and other scalp infections too. It reduces itching and redness in the scalp and nourishes the scalp. Regular use of burdock oil heals the scalp and enriches hair (7).
2. Treats respiratory conditions
Burdock oil was used in traditional medical systems to treat various respiratory ailments. The oil is a sudorific and promotes perspiration. It is an anti-inflammatory and an excellent relaxant.
When diffused using a diffuser or vaporizer, it soothes any congestion in the respiratory tract and significantly reduces sinus pressure. It also aids in reducing inflammation, soreness in the throat, eases cold and cough. It also helps you have a sound sleep despite breathing troubles (8).
3. Maintains a beautiful skin
Burdock oil is a rich source of Vitamin A, E, and C. Besides being a great source of these vitamins, it is an excellent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial. Since it possesses a high-fat content, it serves as an excellent moisturizer.
Topical application of burdock oil on the skin treats inflammation and protects the skin from pollutants & UV rays (9).
Due to its rich moisturizing and nourishing properties, it is an excellent remedy for dry skin conditions. It prevents water loss from the skin and cures various skin infections.
Vitamin E and anti-oxidant compounds present in it prevent early signs of aging. Due to its cleansing properties, burdock oil can also treat conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis. When applied topically on a regular basis, it gives a healthy and glowing skin (10, 11).
4. Treats diabetes
When it comes to preventing and managing diabetes, burdock is a wonder herb. Diabetes is a condition that can be cured through a healthy diet and lifestyle. Burdock has been used in traditional medicine systems to treat diabetes. This is because it has hypoglycemic and anti-oxidative properties (12).
Burdock oil is rich in inulin - a polysaccharide and a prebiotic fiber. The inulin improves the gut condition and balances gut microflora. Besides this, it promotes the overall intestinal health. Also, inulin balances the insulin secretion and minimizes the chances of diabetes (13).
5. Supports in curing cure
For the immune system to function properly, "oxidation" plays a key role. The process helps the body to kill old cells and produce new ones. However, when there is an excess oxidation process, it produces free radicals. These free radicals damage the DNA and inhibits the body’s mechanism to kill the old cells, causing inflammation in the body.
Since burdock is well-known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it can do a great deed in preventing the formation of free radicals. In fact, scientists have already studied the antioxidant activity of burdock and its scavenging effect on free-radicals (14).
Burdock oil is a rich source of steroids, tannins, flavonoids, and other compounds that are responsible for its antioxidant properties. The oil is also known for its high Vitamin E content, which is highly essential in preventing skin cancer.
6. Regulates blood pressure
Burdock plant has been used to treat hypertension since ancient times. Scientific studies have proven that Burdock possesses reactive oxygen species and scavenging property, which together prevent inflammation in the blood vessels.
Also, it is an excellent vasorelaxant, which helps relax the blood vessels. Its antioxidant property prevents plague deposits in the blood vessels. Tannins and sesquiterpenes found in the oil are attributed to this activity (15).
7. Improves kidney function
Burdock essential oil is a diuretic. It helps remove excess water from the body by increasing the frequency and quantity of urine. This activity also eliminates the waste metabolites and toxins from the body.
Now talking about kidneys in specific, "stone formation" is one of the most common issues individuals face. Kidney stones are formed when the urine contains substances like calcium, oxalate, and uric acid. These substances form crystals or calculus inside the kidney.
Since burdock is diuretic, it increases urination and removes the stones and other toxins from the kidneys. It also prevents other kidney disorders and minimizes the likelihood of a mineral residue crystallization.
8. Treats arthritis
Arthritis occurs when your immune system goes awry and attacks your tissues. Arthritis is a common term, and there are about 100 different types of arthritis. In general, it causes swelling, inflammation, and pain in the joints.
Burdock is an immunostimulant, tonic, and anti-inflammatory. Topical application of Burdock oil on the painful joints reduces inflammation and soothes the pain. Also being a tonic, burdock strengthens the immune system (16).
9. Treats Crohn’s disease symptoms
Crohn's disease is a health condition, which causes inflammation in the digestive tract. Though the real cause of Crohn's disease is not known, scientists claim that inflammation may occur due to bacterial infections or heredity.
The condition may lead to intense abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition. It may also be lethal in some cases. However, one of the best burdock oil benefits is the ability to decrease inflammation and other symptoms associated with it (17).
10. Improves liver function
The liver is the largest internal organ in the body. 60% of liver cells is made up of cells called Hepatic cells. The portal vein (a blood vessel) carries nutrient-rich blood directly from the small intestine to the Liver.
The liver detoxifies your body and converts the food into forms required by the body cells. The liver is more susceptible to toxicity since it is in contact with chemicals all day. Traditionally, burdock oil has been used to treat liver damages. Studies have proved that Burdock extracts even prevent damage in the liver tissues (18).
What Blends With Burdock Oil?
Burdock essential oil blends the best with:
- Rosemary oil
- Lavender oil
- Basil oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Chamomile Roman oil
- Chamomile German oil
- Geranium oil
- Frankincense oil
- Jasmine oil
- Sandalwood oil
- Cedarwood oil
How To Use Burdock Oil?
It is important to note that the herbal extract of Burdock root and the essential oil is in use for centuries. Typically, it was used to treat various ailments and the oil is therapeutically rich. However, evidence shows that the essential oil may cause allergies and can be toxic when consumed in larger amounts.
- Topical Application: Burdock essential oil is a concentrated solution. Always make sure you apply the oil in diluted form. It can be diluted with olive oil, coconut oil, or almond oil depending upon where you are going to use. Prefer taking a patch test before you apply the oil in the affected area to check for any allergies. The oil may be a dermal irritant in some cases. It would be best if you use the oil after consulting a professional.
- Aromatherapy: Burdock oil is an excellent relaxant and a mild sedative. Diffuse the oil using a vaporizer or a diffuser. Blend the oil with a carrier oil like olive oil, or just diffuse a few drops to enjoy its aroma.
- Ingestion: There are a few anecdotes that burdock essential oil is good when consumed. However, intake is rare and not recommended. Consume the oil only when it is prescribed by a qualified professional. For home practitioners, it is highly not advised to use it orally.
Side Effects Of Burdock oil
- Pregnant and nursing women should not use burdock oil.
- Studies show that people can acquire dermatitis upon topical application or oral intake of burdock oil. It is always better to do a patch test before using it on the skin (19).
- Burdock oil, when consumed may fluctuate the blood sugar levels. It is better to consult a physician before you take it orally.
- It is necessary to be cautious about the usage as there is a lack of proper evidence.