Common Name: Burdock, Beggar’s Buttons, Gypsy Rhubarb, Wu Shih – the name derives from bur for the rough, prickly seedcase and dock referring to any tall, coarse weed.
Scientific Name: Arctium minus – Genus Arctium is from arktos, meaning bear, as a reference to the shagginess of the burrs, minus is Latin for minor, or smaller Burdock.
Potpourri: Burdock disperses its seeds with burs that stick to animal fur. George de Mestral, the Swiss inventor of Velcro, was inspired by Burdock burs stuck to his dog, noting the tiny curved hooks.
Burdock is used worldwide as an herbal medicine. The root is ground up with other herbs as a tea or as a capsule and has been found to be an effective diuretic and laxative, thereby improving the function of elimination organs such as the liver.
Historically, burdock seeds were crushed to make a tincture used to treat a variety of ailments, including gout, ulcers, arthritis, rheumatism, and skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis.