Ozark Encyclopedia – B – Burdock – Mountain Man Traditional Healing

Burdock – Arctium lappa, A. minus, A. tomentosum

Parts used: root, leaf

Traditional uses: Root used in washes for boils and skin complaints. Leaf infusion used to tone stomach. Leaf poultice used for tumors and swellings and to reduce inflammation. Blood purifier, alterative, diuretic, and diaphoretic.

“Alterative, diuretic and diaphoretic. One of the best blood purifiers. In all skin diseases, it is a certain remedy and has effected a cure in many cases of eczema, either taken alone or combined with other remedies, such as Yellow Dock and Sarsaparilla.” ~Grieve MH

Used in formula for chills – “A gentleman in Cyclone, Missouri, tells me that his family made a ‘chill remedy’ that was in great demand; the exact formula was kept secret, he says, but the main ingredient was crushed burdock seeds.” ~Randolph OMF 107

“Burdock roots…boiled were given for chills.” ~Parler FBA II 1747

Beads worn as protection from witchcraft – “A basket maker at Eureka Springs, Arkansas, told me that children are best protected against witches by wearing a neck-lace of dried burdock roots, cut into small pieces and strung like beads.” ~Randolph OMF 291

 Boiled in compound drank for colds – “There used to be a plant called burdock. They’d dig that up and get the root and soak it in whiskey. Then they’d take that and put other ingredients such as nutmeg and butter and ginger in it. You’d drink that hot and go to bed of a night it’d suck that cold out.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

Medicine for the blood of young folks – “From the weed Burdock (Arctium minus) you make a medicine for the blood of young folks. You boil the weed down and give the youngin’ a dose of 1 tablespoon before meals.” ~Parler FBA II 1357

Burdock, Witch Hazel, and Dogwood as a spring tonic – “Mix burdock roots, witch hazel bark, dogwood bark and take 1 teaspoonful before breakfast in the spring. This is called a spring tonic.” ~Parler FBA II 1369

Root chewed to purify blood – “To purify the blood chew the roots of the burdock plant.” ~Parler FBA II 1516

Root water used for boils – “To cure boils and sores that children have use Burdock roots…that have been soaked in water and drink the water.” ~Parler FBA II 1564

Roots worn against nosebleed – “A necklace of burdock roots…used to be worn to prevent nosebleeding.” ~Parler FBA III 2786

Wild cherry and burdock used for rheumatism – “Wild Cherry bark and Burdock root…boiled and mixed with whiskey is good for rheumatism.” ~Parler FBA III 2974


Carter, Kay & Bonnie Krause Home Remedies of the Illinois Ozarks (HRIO)

Grieve, Margaret A Modern Herbal (MH)

Moerman, Daniel E. Native American Ethnobotany (NAE)

Parler, Mary Celestia Folk Beliefs from Arkansas (FBA)

Randolph, Vance Ozark Magic and Folklore (OMF)

Source: Ozark Encyclopedia – B – Burdock – Mountain Man Traditional Healing

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