It seems that every day there's another herb or supplement worth checking out making headlines. But that's because dietary and skin pros are increasingly turning to natural sources for a slew of skin, hair, and health solutions. Take burdock root, a vegetable native to Asia and Europe that can be ingested as food, taken supplementally, or infused into topical products.
"Burdock root has been used as a holistic treatment for many ailments throughout history," says nutritionist Kristin Gillespie, RD. Known alternatively by its proper name—arctium lappa, which often appears on beauty product packaging—the adaptogenic nightshade has been beloved for centuries across cultures for its purported purifying and cleansing properties. It's still used in tinctures, in supplements, and in topical products for the hair and skin, which makes the benefits of burdock root nothing short of accessible, as they were already plentiful. Could burdock root become my next cod liver oil–like obsession?
The Many Benefits of Burdock Root, Explained
Right off the bat, burdock root’s rich antioxidant content cements its status as health gold. "Antioxidants, which help prevent oxidative damage from free radicals, help prevent and treat a variety of health conditions," says Gillespie. "One study, for example, suggested that the antioxidant content of burdock root tea helped reduce inflammation in patients with osteoarthritis." Gillespie also notes that because antioxidants are touted for their anticarcinogenic properties, it is no surprise that burdock root consumption may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
Then, there's the fact burdock root also acts as an incredible anti-inflammatory, which is why it's commonly used to treat or mitigate a host of conditions in the body. "Some of the most popular include gastrointestinal conditions, skin problems, joint pain, and discomfort from swelling," explains Gillespie. "There's even research to suggest it could prevent recurrence of diverticulitis, a hard-to-treat GI condition."
The Beauty Perks of Burdock Root
Just as it works to cleanse and purify the body on the inside, burdock root can help to cleanse and purify the skin organ itself, resulting in the treatment and reduction of all kinds of skin and hair woes. "Burdock root has been suggested to help with skin conditions such as eczema as a result of improved blood flow to the skin," says Gillespie. Compound that with its rich antioxidant roster—one that includes flavonoids and tannins—and you've got one powerhouse herb that boosts circulation, provides protection from potential free radical damage, and absorbs excess oil. I'm pretty sure, after reporting this story, there's nothing that burdock root can't do. More on the herbal powerhouse below.
1. Burdock root keeps skin from getting too greasy.
That's because it actively absorbs oil, whether as an active in a lightweight lotion or an energizing toner.
2. Burdock root helps to eliminate frizz and seal split ends.
That's because it seals the hair's cuticle. Burdock root is great for locking in a style, from fine strands that have been flat-ironed into veritable silk to coils that require intensive moisture to be twisted and shaped best.
3. Burdock root can temper angry, inflamed skin.
"Burdock root is rich in antioxidants as well as other plant compounds, all of which are highly anti-inflammatory," says Trista Best, RD, a nutritionist who works with Balance One supplements. Because it increases blood flow to the skin, burdock can help clear up skin conditions ranging from eczema to hormonal acne.
4. Burdock root fortifies hair, making it appear thicker.
Thanks to a rich cocktail of vitamin A, iron, potassium, and essential fatty acids, burdock root is the perfect antidote for those with flatter strands or who are in search of a volume boost.
5. Burdock root protects skin from environmental stressors and, ultimately, aging.
"Many individuals have found success for skin health by using burdock root [in a] topical ointment," says Best. "This is especially true concerning wrinkles around the eyes." Instead of DIY-ing your own paste for the ultra-sensitive area around your eyes, choose an eye cream formulated with the herb to play it safe.