Burdock tincture and I have a special relationship. It’s one of the first tinctures I tried where I actually saw the difference within hours of taking it. The results were dramatic, and I’d never before seen herbal medicine have such a dramatic impact so quickly.
I was pretty sick, with a vicious sore throat. The lymph nodes in my neck were swollen so badly that it was becoming ever so slightly difficult to breathe. I wasn’t quite at the point of heading to the doctor, but I did need relief.
Burdock is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and I decided to give it a try before trying ibuprofen to bring down the inflammation. Within an hour of taking it, my lymph nodes were dramatically smaller, and my sore throat improved greatly.
The relief lasted about 2-3 hours before I needed to take another dose. Over the course of the next two days, this pattern stayed consistent. I’d take burdock tincture, my lymph nodes would shrink, and then a few hours later I’d take it again as I began to feel them swelling. Burdock tincture got me through a tough spot, and I’m happy that I had it on hand.
Benefits of Burdock Tincture
Folk herbalists recommend burdock for strength and tenacity. There’s an old belief that you should look for a herbal remedy that has the qualities you want to cultivate in yourself. Burdock roots are vigorous, determined and nearly unstoppable. As soon as you try to dig one yourself, you’ll understand.
More practically speaking, burdock root is a potent anti-inflammatory (source) and I’ve had the chance to experience its effects firsthand. Though it’s generally anti-inflammatory, burdock directly impacts the lymphatic system, helping to strengthen and cleanse it.
Historically, herbalists used burdock for skin issues, and the root is consumed to help treat skin issues, from rashes and psoriasis, to acne and boils. Modern science is actually starting to back this up, and studies are showing that burdock can help reduce the signs of aging. Part of this may be due to the nutritional profile of the root, as well as the overall health-promoting benefits of systemic anti-inflammatory action.
Medieval herbalists prescribed burdock as a cancer treatment, and again modern science is backing this up. There’s some evidence that burdock extracts can help prevent cancer from metastasizing (source, source).
Burdock is also a diuretic, and along with other spring tonic herbs like dandelion, it that helps cleanse the liver and kidneys.
How to Make Burdock Tincture
Burdock tincture is made using the roots, which store most of the medicinal constituents. The best time to harvest the roots is in the early spring or late fall. When harvesting in the early spring, look for second-year roots. That is, roots that are in their second spring. Those roots will be large and will have all the benefit of the first years growing season.
When harvesting in the fall, you’ll want first-year roots. First-year roots will have grown all summer and stored their medicine and nutrition up to prepare for the winter. Second-year roots have just seeded in the fall, and they’ve used all their nutrition to form seeds.
Burdock tends to grow in weedy places, and it seems to almost always find its way around gigantic immovable rocks. There’s a local farm that grows it commercially for the Chinese market, and they have a special mechanical harvester to dig out the tough roots. For the home harvester, a sturdy shovel and a good bit of determination are essential.
If you can’t quite get burdock root out of the ground, you can buy it online here.
Once you’ve dug the root, or as much of it as you have the patience to extract, take it inside for a good washing. Chop the root into chunks and fill a mason jar about 2/3 the way up. Cover the burdock root with vodka, filling the jar to within an inch of the top.
Allow the burdock tincture to infuse in a cool dark place, shaking the jar whenever you think of it. It should infuse for at least a month, but ideally 3-4 months. Once the tincture is ready, strain it through a fine mesh strainer and store in amber dropper bottles.
Once I started making burdock tincture, my husband gave it a try and though the flavor would make a lovely vinegar. Since he was enthusiastic, I went ahead and made a burdock root infused vinegar.
To my palate, it’s horrible. I can’t stand it, but he loves it. Anytime his stomach isn’t quite right or he’s not feeling well, he takes a bit from that bottle and pours it into a shot glass. He drinks it straight and thinks its the best medicine. I guess it all depends on what your body needs.
My body wants tincture, his body craves raw burdock vinegar.