Scientific name: Arctium lappa

Common names: Grass Burdock, Clotbur, Bardana, Burr Seed, Hardock, Hareburr, Hurr-Burr, Turkey Burr Seed, Beggars Buttons, Lappa, Cocklebur

Ayurvedic names: Graviola, Arctium Lappa, Bardana, Burr- Seed, Beggar’s Button, Thorny Burr,Happy major, Clotburr, 

Chinese names: Niubangzi, Ngau pong, Niupang

Bangladesh names: 

Arabic names:    الأرقطيون (al arqatioon)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Compositae

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Root, seed, leaf


Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Height: 9 Feet

Actions: Alterative, laxative, tonic, vulnerary; Seed:  Alterative, diuretic, tonic Root: diuretic, depilatory, alterative

Known Constituents: Flavanoid glycosides, alkaloids, inulin

Constituents Explained:


Traditional Use: 

Thought of as a liver tonic and a blood cleanser.  It seems to help the body clear waste products. Any herb that is known as a blood cleanser can be thought of as a liver herb, as it is often the liver that filters the blood.

Burdock is another herb like Garlic that is used in studies to assess if it has anticancer benefits.  It may be beneficial to the skin, especially when the skin is dry and scaly. It has been used as a compress to speed up the healing of wounds.

This herb is a slight bitter that helps stimulate digestive activity.

It is used internally and externally to clear up skin problems. 

It can have a slight increase on the flow of urine.

Clinical Studies:

The effectiveness of cancer chemotherapy is often limited by the toxicity to other tissues in the body. Therefore, the identification of non-toxic chemotherapeutics from herbal medicines remains to be an attractive goal to advance cancer treatments.

A study evaluated the cytotoxicity profiles of 364 herbal plant extracts, using various cancer and normal cell lines. The screening found occurrence of A549 (human lung adenocarcinoma) specific cytotoxicity in nine species of herbal plants, especially in the extract of Arctium lappa L. 

Moreover, purification of the selective cytotoxicity in the extract of Arctium lappa L. resulted in the identification of arctigenin as tumor specific agent that showed cytotoxicity to lung cancer, liver cancer and stomach cancer cells, while no cytotoxicity to several normal cell lines.

Arctigenin specifically inhibited the proliferation of cancer cells, which might consequently lead to the induction of apoptosis. 

In conclusion, the study found that arctigenin was one of cancer specific phytochemicals, and in part responsible for the tumor selective cytotoxicity of the herbal medicine.


Susanti S, Iwasaki H, Itokazu Y, Nago M, Taira N, Saitoh S, Oku H. “Tumor Specific Cytotoxicity Of A Arctigenin Isolated From Herbal Plant Arctium Lappa L.” 2012 February

Source material:


Herb Name: Burdock

Other names: Thorny Burr. Beggar’s Buttons. Lappa. Fox’s Clote. Cockle Buttons. Love Leaves. Philanthropium. Personata. Happy Major. Clot-Bur. 

Latin name: Arctium lappa

Family: N.O. Compositae

Common part used: Root, herb and seeds (fruits)

This plant is a thistle, and is native to Europe, though several species have managed to spread to other regions where they generally flourish as weeds.

These plants have dark colored green leaves that are usually about seventy centimeters long, large and oval. Leaves situated lower down are generally heart shaped. The undersides of these leaves are covered with down, and the stalks are usually hollow. These plants flower in the months between July and October.

A distinctive feature of these plants is their prickly heads, more commonly known as burrs, which are supremely adapted to cling to fur and clothing. These are actually the plants method of dispersing seeds. Burrs can be harmful to an animal if eaten, however, most animals have evolved instincts that prevent them falling into this error.

Burdock is a traditional supplement to ‘purify’ the blood, and has also been traditionally used as a diuretic. It can also be used as a local application for such ailments of the skin as acne, psoriasis and eczema. The Chinese used Burdock for centuries as a cure for a sore throat, while the roots often feature as ingredients of homeopathic medicine. The leaves are even used in the treatment of burns – some specialists suggest that Burdock leaves ease pain and enhance healing, as well as making the changes of dressing so agonizing to burn patients easier. The leaves also seem to have antiseptic qualities.

Burdock is also used as a food, originally in Europe as well as in Asia, but these days more commonly in Asia, especially in Japan. The root contains a lot of dietary fibre, as well as calcium, amino acids, and potassium.

As a food, Burdock is definitely good for health. However, despite it’s place in traditional medicine, few scientific studies have truly looked into the benefits of Burdock.