Burdock root is a vegetable rich in antioxidants that people often use as a natural remedy for some skin conditions. It’s available as a tea, root, powder, or extract and can be incorporated into recipes.

Researchers have discovered numerous potential uses and health benefits for burdock root. These benefits may be extensive enough to warrant using burdock root as a complementary treatment for certain conditions.

Burdock root is a vegetable native to Northern Asia and Europe, though it now grows in the United States. The burdock plant’s deep roots are very long and vary in color from beige to brown and nearly black on the outside.

Burdock root has been used for centuries in holistic medicine to treat a variety of different conditions. Traditionally, it’s been most commonly used to treat infections and wounds (1).

Burdock root has been shown to contain multiple types of powerful antioxidants, including quercetin, luteolin, and phenolic acids (2).

Antioxidants protect cells in the body from damage due to free radicals. They can help treat and prevent a number of different health conditions (3).

Antioxidants can also help to reduce inflammation. One study found that burdock root reduced inflammatory markers in the blood of patients with osteoarthritis (4).

Burdock contains compounds, including fructooligosaccharides and chlorogenic acid, which have been found to improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels.

However, this is based entirely on test tube and animal studies using burdock extracts. Human research is needed (5).

Burdock root, as it turns out, may also inhibit certain types of cancer.

Research has also found that burdock had “potent inhibitory effects” on cancer growth caused by cancers like pancreatic carcinoma. Another study found burdock root significantly tumor growth in mice with melanoma (6, 7).

Research in humans is needed, and burdock root is not currently recommended for the prevention or treatment of cancer.

Another possible use of burdock root is as an aphrodisiac. In a nonhuman study, it was found that the extract of burdock root had an aphrodisiac effect. The extract enhanced sexual function and increased the amount of sexual behavior in the male rats (8).

Research is needed on humans, but anecdotal evidence supports this claim.

Burdock root has traditionally been used to treat a variety of skin conditions. It has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that could protect against skin infections and promote skin healing (9).

In one study, people with acne who took oral burdock root supplements had fewer pimples and improved quality of life after 6 months. However, the study was small, and there was no control group (10).

There’s limited or no research available on the pediatric uses of burdock root, and its safety hasn’t been studied in children. Because of this, you should never give your child burdock root unless under the supervision of your healthcare provider.

Some potential risks of burdock include the following:

  • If you’re taking burdock supplements, take only in moderation. More research is needed to determine the safety of the supplement.
  • Burdock is considered to be safe to eat, but you should only buy it from reputable sellers and should never collect it in the wild. The burdock roots resemble that of belladonna nightshade plants, which are highly toxic. They often grow together.
  • Burdock root is a natural diuretic, so you shouldn’t take it if you’re dehydrated. You also shouldn’t take it if you’re also taking other diuretics or water pills, as it can increase dehydration.
  • If you’re allergic to chrysanthemums or daisies, you may be at an increased risk of having an allergic reaction to burdock root and should avoid it.
  • Pregnant women or women trying to become pregnant shouldn’t take burdock root or supplements.

Burdock root is available in tea form or supplements. Consult and follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and those on the supplement’s label. Supplements are not monitored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and could have quality, purity, or dosage issues.

There are a number of different forms of burdock root available. These include:

  • fresh burdock root
  • burdock tea
  • dried root powder
  • burdock oil or burdock extract

Incorporating burdock root into your diet can be as simple as learning a few new recipes.

To cook burdock root, you’ll first need to peel it. You can then fry, boil, or sauté it. Recipes you can try include:

Burdock root is a versatile plant that can be cooked as food, powdered as a supplement or tea, or processed as an extract or essential oil. Limited research in test tubes and animals suggests that burdock may have health benefits.

Consult a healthcare provider or dietitian to decide whether burdock is a good choice for you. If you’re purchasing extracts, oil, or dried powder, always buy from a reliable source.