Unless you come from parts of Asia where it’s been extensively used, it’s highly likely that you’re unfamiliar with burdock root. Popularly used as an ingredient in Japanese cuisine, burdock root is usually added to stir-fries,1 consumed raw,2 used as a broth3 or pickled in apple cider vinegar to prolong shelf life.4
However, an easy way to use burdock root and possibly obtain benefits is by steeping the roots in boiling water to make burdock root tea. Learn more about this tea’s uses, how you can make this beverage at home and what you must watch out for when drinking it.
What Is Burdock Root Tea?
Burdock root tea is concocted by steeping roots of the burdock (Arctium lappa) plant. For centuries now, burdock roots, leaves and flowers have been well-respected for their medicinal and nutritional abilities.5 The burdock plant stands between 1 and 2 meters (3.2 to 6.5 feet) when fully grown, and has large leaves that can grow up to 50 centimeters (19.6 inches), with white undersides. Between June and October, the plant bears purple flowers extending away from the plant’s bracts.
Burdock Root Tea’s Health Benefits
High blood pressure8
Apart from targeting these diseases, burdock root tea may deliver these benefits:12
Promote antioxidant capabilities: The root contains antioxidants such as phenolic acids, quercetin and luteolin13 (all of which may be transferred to the tea) that can shield the body against cell-damaging free radicals.
In a 2011 article in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers suggested that burdock root tea’s antioxidant content may aid in slowing down tumor cell growth.14
Promote diuretic effects: One of burdock root tea’s earliest uses was for detoxifying the body. It can also help purify the blood, and is known to induce sweating and urination.
This effect may benefit your liver, kidneys and lymphatic system. Because it’s a diuretic, burdock root tea may cause the body to eliminate excess toxins, salts and water.15
Act as an expectorant and decongestant: If you have coughs, colds or flu-like symptoms, drinking burdock root tea may help alleviate them by targeting phlegm and mucus. Burdock root tea has antibacterial properties as well.16
Alleviate hair issues: You can address concerns like hair loss and dandruff,17 and boost scalp and follicle health, as burdock root tea is known to contain helpful phytosterols in burdock root tea, while the burdock root plant contains hair-helping essential oils.
Help people with liver-related issues: For people with either cirrhosis or hepatitis, burdock root tea may assist in promoting liver cell regrowth.20
This tea may help people with blood-borne diseases or those who have a liver that’s been damaged heavily by alcohol consumption.
Enhance the immune system: Burdock root tea’s vitamin C content may improve your immune system and boost white blood cell production.
Other immune-boosting effects this tea may offer include enhancing collagen production and promoting quicker healing and recovery after illness.21
Promote better heart health: Burdock root tea has potassium that may help maintain normal blood pressure levels and serve as a vasodilator, which may lower your risk for atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes.
This mineral is also important for heart health because it aids in maintaining fluid balance in the body.22
Help lower risk for cancer: Quercetin and luteolin, both found in burdock root tea, possess antimutagenic properties.
These nutrients eliminate free radicals, help prevent cellular mutation and reduce a person’s cancer risk.23
What Nutrients Can You Find in Burdock Root Tea?
Burdock root tea is home to antioxidants such as phenolic acids, luteolin and quercetin.24 It also contains the minerals potassium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, calcium and iron, as well as vitamins B1, B2, B3 and fiber.25 People who are sensitive to caffeine may drink this tea without any issues. As “The Tea Book” highlights, roasted and dried roots like burdock root may work as caffeine-free tea alternatives.26
How to Make Burdock Root Tea
Making your own burdock root tea at home is possible. Try following this recipe:27
Burdock Root Tea Recipe
• 1 burdock root
• 2 liters (a little over 2 quarts) of water
1. Cut burdock root into thirds. Using a scouring pad, scrape off the dirt on its surface under running water. Do not peel the skin since most of its nutrients are in it. Cut the root into thin slices.
2. Spread all the burdock on a bamboo sieve, cover with a nylon food cover and place under clear sun for one to two days until dry, pliable or almost crisp. If you are not comfortable drying your food in the sun or the weather is not cooperating, use a dehydrator.
3. Place dried burdock in a pan with no oil or liquid. Stir constantly over low heat for 10 minutes until golden brown, crispy and fragrant.
4. Let the burdock cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Store immediately in an airtight glass container. Seal it to prevent moisture.
5. Burdock tea can be cooked or brewed. Boil the water. Add 10 grams (0.35 ounces) of burdock tea leaves and simmer for 10 minutes.
6. If you want to make a single cup of burdock root tea, pour 185- to 212-degree Fahrenheit water onto five to eight pieces of burdock tea leaves in a cup and brew for four to five minutes. Raw honey, chrysanthemum, red dates, wolf berries or mint leaves may be added to taste.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
A single-serving of this recipe makes 100 or more grams (about 3 1/2 ounces) of tea.
You can look for burdock root in Oriental markets, natural food stores and Japanese and Taiwanese grocery stores. Pick roots that are medium-sized, firm, unbroken and have taut skin. Do not purchase burdock roots that are overly dry or sunken, since these may not have a pleasant flavor.
When cleaned properly and kept in a cool, well-ventilated place, the root can stay fresh for many months. You can also preserve burdock roots by wrapping them in a paper towel, enclosing them inside a plastic bag and placing them inside your refrigerator’s vegetable compartment, where they can be kept for months.
Should the burdock root turn limp and/or dry, soak it in water until it’s firm again.28 For processed burdock root parts and slices, ensure that they are stored in the refrigerator and used as soon as possible.29 If you aren’t able to purchase fresh burdock root, there are burdock root tea bags available online. Just make sure you’re purchasing from a highly reputable source that provides high-quality tea.
Burdock Root Tea’s Side Effects
Burdock root tea may trigger allergic reactions, including dermatitis, among people who are sensitive to daises, chrysanthemums or ragweed. Should these adverse effects develop, stop drinking burdock root tea immediately.30 Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should avoid this tea because there aren’t enough studies that confirm its safety for these groups.31
Drinking burdock root can lead to other side effects like hallucinations, dry mouth, blurred vision and urinary retention, as seen in the case of a 26-year-old woman who purchased burdock root tea from a health shop. As always, ensure that you’re purchasing high-quality tea from a reliable supplier.32,33
In the wild, burdock root can be confused with dangerous, poisonous plants like belladonna or deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna) because of the similarities in their physical appearance.34 Hence, do not pick burdock in the wild. Should negative reactions develop, stop drinking the tea and discard other root strips. Furthermore, avoid burdock root tea when taking the following medicines because it can interfere with the way they work:35
• Diuretics (water pills): Dehydrated people should stay away from burdock since the roots can increase the pills’ diuretic effects and exacerbate dehydration.
• Diabetes medications: Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels, may occur if you drink this tea with these medicines.
• Blood-thinning medicines: Burdock root can worsen bleeding in people diagnosed with bleeding disorders who take these medications. It can slow down blood clotting too.36
Before taking burdock root tea, talk to your physician and verify if this herbal tea is good for you. By doing so, you can get an idea of the dosage that may be needed to address your condition and be guided on what you can do to avoid side effects.
Caution Is Needed if You Want to Try Burdock Root Tea
For many years now, burdock root has been widely valued in Asia for its potential effects toward the brain, heart and immune system. Drinking burdock root tea may allow you to reap the nutrients found in the plant and help boost your well-being.
However, before drinking burdock root tea, remember that there are contraindications linked to this beverage, especially among women who are pregnant and/or breastfeeding and people taking certain medicines. If you're interested in trying burdock root tea, consult a doctor first, so you are aware of the ideal amount that would be both suitable for your condition and won't put you at risk for adverse health effects.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Burdock Root Tea
Q: What are the health benefits of burdock root tea?
A: Burdock root tea may promote the following benefits:
Deliver antioxidant, expectorant, decongestant, anti-inflammatory and diuretic effects
Assist with relieving fevers, headaches, flu, gout and constipation, to name a few
Help address hair issues
Boost health in people with liver conditions
Improve the immune system
Help improve heart health
Detoxify the blood
Q: Where can you buy burdock root tea?
A: Fresh burdock root can be purchased from Oriental markets, natural food stores, and Japanese and Taiwanese grocery stores. While burdock root tea bags can be purchased online, do thorough research first. Only buy burdock root tea bags from a trustworthy source that sells high-quality tea made from real burdock root.
Q: Can drinking burdock root tea lead to side effects?
A: Yes. Some side effects that burdock root tea may trigger include:
• Allergic reactions (including dermatitis, swelling, inflammation or skin rash) in people who are sensitive to daisies, chrysanthemums or ragweed
• Toxicity symptoms such as blurred vision, hallucinations, dry mouth and urinary retention
• Negative interactions with diuretic, diabetes and blood-thinning medicines