Burdock is commonly referred to as Arctium which comprises a genus of the biennial variety of plants.
Burdock belongs to the botanical family of Asteraceae, members of which find various uses for a many purposes all over the world.
It belongs to the botanical order of Asterales.
The plant grows widely all over the world and flowers between the months of July till October. The flowers of this plant are known to provide nectar for bees that produce honey.
The leaves are large are heart shaped.
The burdock plant consists of prickly heads which are known to easily latch onto clothing and fur and are known to have such strong clinging powers that it was recorded that birds that were caught or entangled into the same eventually found themselves trapped and died as they were not able to free themselves from the same.
The property of the burdock to cling was thus responsible for inventing the mechanism of the hook and loop fastener and also provided as an excellent mechanism for the dispersing of seeds.
Uses of Burdock
Food and Drink
The burdock plant comprises of a tap root, the same is widely consumed and eaten as a root type of a vegetable.
This is extremely popular in the East Asian cuisine especially in China, Korea and Honk Kong.
The Chinese refer to this root preparation as niubang.
The Japanese consume the burdock root in a preparation knows as gobo.
The Koreans make use of the burdock root to prepare u-eong which is also referred to as tong e-eong or the whole burdock as it sold and consumed.
The roots can grow extremely long and penetrate deep into the soil and can measure as long a meter
It is extremely crisp and crunchy in its texture and its flavor comprises a mixture of pungent and sweet.
The stalks of the flowers are also used as food and have a taste similar to that of artichokes. The stalk is peeled and is either consumed raw or it is put into boiling water so as to soften it and then consumed.
The Japanese also consume the leaves of the plant, thus we see the whole plant is consumed for food purposes, leaving no part to waste whatsoever.
The advances in biochemistry enabled us to understand the nutrient and chemical value of the contents found in burdock. It was thus discovered that the root contains extremely generous quantities of potassium, amino acids and calcium which are extremely essential to the body.
The root also contains a compound called poly phenol oxidase which is responsible for imparting the characteristic brownish color
In Britain, burdock is one of the main ingredients of a soft drink that was widely consumed during the medieval ages. It was employed as a bittering agent in the manufacturing of beer.
Burdock also has the property to increase lactation in females and was thus used as a galactagogue.
Since ancient times, burdock has been used for a variety of purposes and was believed to be a diuretic, a blood purifying agent and a diaphoretic.
Chinese traditional medicine has made use of the seeds since centuries owing to their medical benefits.
The extract of the burdock root, especially the burdock oil or bur oil as it is also referred to has also been used for ailments related to the scalp especially in Europe for centuries.
Recent studies have shown that bur oil is extremely rich in essential fatty acids and phytosterols.
Magical and mystical uses
In the region of Anatolia that lies in modern day Turkey, the burdock plant was believed to help ward off evil spirits and provide protection to the surroundings.
The women also weaved the same into kilims which were a type of a carpet or a rug that could be placed at home or the work place to ward off any evil spirits.
The roots are naturally diuretic and thus should be avoided in case of dehydration. It efficacy in thus controlling blood pressure by helping in diuresis is still being studied.
The plant also contains a high amount of lactone and can cause allergies in those who are allergic to the same and thus should be avoided.
Owing to its actions on the uterus, pregnant women or those women wanting to become pregnant should not consume this plant as it may lead to an abortion or menstrual bleeding.
Burdock and fabric, an invention form a coincidence!
Around the year 1948, a Swiss inventor named George de Mestral became extremely curious after he walked his dog through a garden that had burdock and realized the seeds of the same had gotten stuck to his clothing as well as the dogs fur. He decided to observe the seeds under a microscope and thus discovered the discovered the hook and loop fastener mechanism used by the plant to disperse its seeds.
This hook and loop mechanism was eventually used to develop the fabric we now know as velcro which is used extensively in a variety of household items all over the world.
Thus we see that burdock to Mestral was what the apple was to Newton!
This thus explains in depth the uses of burdock and how the same is now used extensively all over the world owing to its various properties.