Monday, May 23, 2016

Benefits of Burdock Root Tea

Here's a new remedy for hair loss.

(I am like a dog with a bone. I am not letting up on the hair loss remedies or hair loss cures haha though I am happy that my hair is looking much healthier now. I wonder if it's the natural shampoo I'm using or the daily dang gui capsule that I'm taking? Or the fact that I am keeping my scalp cool and oil-free by washing my hair each time I feel my scalp heating up!)

This humble root called burdock has been made into burdock oil to prevent hair loss and encourage hair growth.

I stumbled upon this root when I was reading a post about the famous Five Element Soup.

I've seen burdock in Jusco and Tesco (funnily, never saw it in my Lip Sin wet market though!). It's a long root, about 2 feet, and usually marketed as gobo (in Japanese).

In Chinese, it's called Niu Pang. If you go to a Chinese herbalist or Chinese medical hall, its seeds are sold as Niu Pang Zi (Zi referring to the seeds).

I bought one gobo/burdock root today from Jusco for RM1.29 - yes, it is inexpensive.

But wait till you hear about the benefits of burdock.

Burdock root 

It's used as a detoxifying agent to clear acne and pimples. It helps with sore throats, rashes and skin conditions such as herpes and eczema. It is often made into a tea to purify the blood. 

The Europeans use the oil extract of burdock root for hair and scalp. It treats baldness and makes hair strong.

Cross-section of the burdock root. It can be eaten as a vegetable if you're not making a tea out of it. 

According to this website, burdock is a "member of the thistle family. It was originally grown in Europe and Asia, but is now widespread throughout the United States. It is a short, dull green plant that grows in light, well-drained soil, with wavy, heart-shaped leaves and roots that are brownish-green or black on the outside.Both the root and leaves are used in herbal remedies; however, the roots are the most important part in terms of herbal medicine."

Burdock is good for gastro-intestinal issues as it contains inulin and mucilage. I went digging about to find out more about inulin. It's a mixture of fructose polymers found in plants. It survives the harsh acidic conditions of your stomach juices and goes to the small intestine where it becomes food for the good bacteria in the large intestine (good bacteria are the same bacteria you ingest as probiotics in your yogurt and Yakult). 

I swear by Marigold yogurt because that's the only yogurt that seems to really have live lactobacili. How do I know this? I make my own yogurt and I often am successful when I use Marigold yogurt as a starter. When I use Dutch Lady yogurt as a starter, my yogurt falls flat. So I am a big fan of Marigold yogurt if only for the live active cultures!

(For my DIY yogurt how-to, I even got featured in a Chinese newspaper. The reporter googled and found me and was so curious about making yogurt at home that she interviewed me. Yes, the things I get up to!)

But I think you get only the goodness of inulin if you chomp on burdock? What happens if we make a tea out of it? Will inulin also be present in the tea? 

(For the record, I drank the tea and ate the burdock root. It tastes bland but the fibre is good for my intestines LOL. And I am never one to waste stuff. Must be those years of listening to my dad telling me about the African kids dying of starvation while growing up!).
Burdock is also anti-microbial. It can also reduce inflammation and liver damage. It also contains saponins which is the what makes it a blood cleanser or blood purifier. Saponins are also present in ginseng so you can say that burdock is a poor man's version. It also contains 150 times more beta-carotene than carrots. 
I made this into a tea because I felt that my body was a bit too heaty (I had a super late night last night - visited a friend and chatted till almost 1am!). 
I just scrubbed the root and using a peeler, peeled it all, skin included. You'll end up with strips of burdock. I saved a small portion of the root because I want to try growing burdock! The burdock I bought was labelled China gobo but I think I can grow this root into a plant. 
All you have to do next is dry the strips of burdock under the sun. I couldn't wait for the sun-dried burdock so I took a handful and simmered it in some water for 10 minutes. (Here's a lovely pictorial guide on making burdock tea.)
If you dry it well, you can keep it in a jar and each time you want some burdock tea to cleanse your blood, you can make tea immediately (either steeping the roots in boiling water or simmering it on a low fire). 
If you like a savoury soup made with this root, try this recipe from this site


*Here's some trivia - burdock or rather its burrs are the inspiration behind the famous Velcro invention. 

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