The Tenacious and Hardy Burdock Root Helps Us Clear ‘Toxic Heat’
It’s a Delicious Way to Support Normal Blood Pressure
In Chinese medicine, burdock root is used as a powder and an ingredient in tea mainly to clear “toxic heat” through the urine. In traditional Native American medicine, burdock is referred to as a detoxifier and a diuretic. While the Chinese-medicine version may be more poetic and more evocative of an image, they both say the same thing: the role of burdock root in medicine is to clear the body of unwanted “stuff,” particularly through urination. Interestingly, this is in contrast to most of the detoxifying herbs and treatments that work mainly through the liver. Burdock, in contrast, seems to focus its action on the kidneys.
Modern medicine does not speak about disease or treatments in such descriptive terms. Rather, modern medicine tends to be all about measures and numbers rather than the experience of the ill person. The question, though, is what “disease” are we referring to when we talk about “toxic heat?” One that immediately comes to mind is high blood pressure. At its extreme, high blood pressure can become so toxic that it can cloud a person’s consciousness. At first the person feels dizzy, which is often followed by a headache that makes clear thinking that much harder, and then in cases of so-called malignant or severe hypertension, the person could lose consciousness altogether. At times, even a stroke can occur, which can be thought of as a kind of mechanism for losing consciousness. Again, it is not unreasonable to describe this as kind of toxic heat that clouds the mind.
Native Americans dried burdock roots and used them as food in the winter. In particular, they used the dried burdock roots in soups and stews and made them into tea. Interestingly, the active ingredients in burdock root are water soluble, so using it in soups, stews and tea makes sense from an absorption and physiological perspective.
In a sense, we are re-creating the Native American use of burdock root. We dry the fresh, organically grown roots so that they can be used in the winter (spring, summer or fall) in soups and stews. The burdock roots will help support normal blood pressure, as well as clearing out all manner of “toxic heat.”
I add 1 to 2 teaspoons of Burdock Root Powder in my morning soup, but there are many other creative uses, such as sprinkling it on buttered popcorn. We are all grateful for this tenacious and hardy plant that clears us of things unneeded so we can see the world more clearly.
Tom Cowan, M.D.
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