Arctium lappa

 

Arctium lappa

Synonyms

No documentation

Vernacular Name

Lappa, Gobo, Burdock, Burdock Root, Greater Burdock

Description

Arctium lappa, is a biennial herb from the Asteraceae family.  Growing to a maximum height of 1.5m, the plant is supported by the rigid, erect stem.  The stem is heavily grooved, branched and pubescent.  The downy main stem is usually brown, and gradually turns green as it branches.  The leaves are either ovate or cordate, and are very broad at the base of the plant, getting smaller as they get closer to the top.  The broad leaves are dark green in colour, heavily pubescent on the underside, loosely edged and deeply veined. A. lappa produces burs of barbed bracts along its higher levels from which, between the months of July and September, protrude small, brilliant magenta or violet flowers. This provides an excellent mode of transportation for the flowers and seeds.  The small, androgynous flowers have a shape similar to that of a funnel.  The bracts occur in clusters, and, in the autumn become more brittle, which causes them to easily stick to anything passing by.  The seeds remain in the bract until disturbed, at which point they separate from their stem and ripen.

Origin / Habitat

A. lappa is a biennial plant and may be found growing throughout much of the United States, Europe and Asia.  It is characterized by heart-shaped, wavy leaves, purple flowers and deep roots that are cultivated for medicinal preparations.

Chemical Constituents

Polysaccharides (e.g. inulin), Lignans (e. g. arctigenin, diarctigenin, arctiin)

Flavones (e.g. luteolin), Sesquiterpene lactones (e.g. arctiopicrin), Polyynes (e.g. trideca-1), Phenolic acids and their derivatives (e.g. caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid), Triterpenes (e.g. alpha-amyrin), Phytosterols (e.g. campesterol), Tannins.(2),(3),(4),(5)

Plant Part Used

Dried roots, ripe fruits and leaves. (1)

Traditional Use

A. lappa has been well documented in traditional use with the Iroquois tribe.  When made in to a poultice, it is applied to the head to relieve headaches and also applied to sweat out rheumatism. (6)

A. lappa infusion was used as a diuretic, emetic and for various gastrointestinal complaints.  Other uses include kidney, dermatological and orthopedic aids as well as to alleviate boils and canker sores.(1),(6),(7)

Dosage

1 teaspoon of A. lappa root in 2 cups cool water, up to 2 cups day. (1)

Pharmacology

Pre-clinical

Anti-inflimmatory activity

A. lappa has long been used in the treatment of inflammatory conditions and pain associated with inflammation.  Scientific studies support the anti-inflammatory activity of A. lappa in vivo as carrageenan-induced paw edema is attenuated following subcutaneous administration of A. lappa extract in rats.(8) As a result, several scientific studies have attempted to elucidate the mechanisms by which A. lappa exerts anti-inflammatory activity.  Available information indicates that A. lappa is comprised, in part, of the lignan arctigenin and its analogues (e.g. diarctigenin (dimeric structure of arctigenin) and arctiin (glucoside of arctigenin)); arctigenin and its associated lignans have been shown to be inhibitors of nitric oxide production through inhibited inducible nitric oxide synthase expression and enzymatic activity. (2),(9),(10),(11) Through inhibition of nitric oxide production, the ensuing nitric oxide-induced, pro-inflammatory actions such as increased vascular permeability and vasodilatation are abolished.(9),(12) Furthermore, arctigenin and its associated lignans have been shown to inhibit other mediators of inflammation, such as prostaglandin E2 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha.(11),(13) The inhibition of inflammatory mediators is pertinent as overproduction of these factors is characteristic of inflammatory diseases (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis).(9)

Antiaging activity

The fruits of the A. lappa plant have been cultivated to produce fruit pulp and fruit-based extracts.  Traditional medicinal practices have employed the use of A. lappa in the treatment of various skin conditions.  As a result, a scientific study assessed the in vivo and in vitro effects of a formulation that contained A. lappa fruit extract for its anti-aging properties.  Human participants topically applied the A. lappa fruit extract formulation for 12 weeks and were examined for synthesis of procollagen and hyaluronan.  When compared to areas treated topically with vehicle, the areas treated with the fruit extract formulation showed stimulated procollagen synthesis and increased hyaluronan levels.  A related study examined the effect of topical application of the A. lappa fruit extract formulation on wrinkle volume within the outer corner of the eye (area where wrinkles referred to as “crow’s feet” are typically located) for a 4 weeks period.  When compared to treatment with vehicle, wrinkle volume was reduced in the areas treated with topical application of the fruit extract formulation.(14)

Antidiabetic activity

Research regarding the role of A. lappa in the treatment of diabetes is conflicting.  In one study, treatment with A. lappa was assessed in the streptozocin-induced diabetic mouse model.  A. lappa was administered for twenty-eight days and measurements of plasma glucose, plasma insulin, glucose tolerance, etc. indicated no alteration attributable to A. lappa administration.  Administration of streptozocin to induce diabetes in selected mice showed that A. lappa exacerbated the streptozocin-induced diabetic condition.(15) In a more recent study, the administration of total lignan from A. lappa fruit was assessed for hypoglycemic activity.  Blood glucose levels were taken on the first day of the experiment and after 10 days of treatment with total lignan from A. lappa fruit in both normal and alloxan-induced diabetic mice and rats.  Glibenclamide was administered as a positive control in the same manner as the total lignan was administered (oral gavage).  The blood glucose level of alloxan-induced diabetic mice and rats confirmed induction of diabetes.  Administration of the positive control and the low, middle and high doses of total lignan reduced blood glucose in the diabetic rats in a dose-dependent manner; the same effect was observed in mice, although the lower dose of total lignan did not reach statistical significance but displayed the same dose-dependent pattern with moderate and high doses reaching significance.  This study provides support for the use of lignan constituents of A. lappa in the treatment of diabetes but additional research is needed in this area.(16)

Clinical

No documetation

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

No documentation

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

A few case studies have documented toxicity following use of A. lappa teas where patients presented with symptoms consistent with atropine-like poisoning (e.g. dry mouth, mydriasis, tachycardia, and mental confusion).(17),(18) Burdock should be used with caution in diabetic and hypoglycemic patients as conflicting studies have shown it to both increase and decrease blood glucose levels when assessed in laboratory experiments.(15),(16)

Patients possessing allergies to members of the Asteraceae family (e.g. sunflower, safflower, ragweed, chamomile and mugwort) should not use Burdock due to cross-reactivity between members within this family.

Due to the insufficiency of scientific studies specific to the pediatric population, A. lappa should not be used in pediatric patients.

Pregnancy

Patients planning to become pregnant, who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use A. lappa supplements.

Age limitation

No documentation

Adverse reaction

No documentation

Read More

  1) Western Herb

References

  1. Cichoke AJ. Secrets of Native American Herbal Remedies. New York, NY: Avery Publishing;2001.32.
  2. Ferracane R. Metabolic profile of the bioactive compounds of burdock (Arctium lappa) seeds, roots and leaves. J Pharm Biomed Anal.  20Jan2010;51(2):399-404.
  3. Li D. Prebiotic effectiveness of inulin extracted from edible burdock. Anaerobe. Feb2008;14(1):29-34.
  4. Han BH. A butyrolactone lignan dimmer from Arctium lappa. Phytochemistry.1994;37:1161-1163.
  5. Liu S. Isolation and identification of arctiin and arctigenin in leaves of burdock (Arctium lappa L.) by polyamide column chromatography in combination with HPLC-ESI/MS. Phytochem Anal. Mar-Apr2005;16(2):86-89.
  6. Moerman DE.  Native American Ethnobotany. Portland OR: Timber Press; 2009.85.
  7. Hutchens AR. Indian Herbalogy of North America. Boston MA: Shambhala Publications.63.
  8. Lin CC. Anti-inflammatory and radical scavenge effects of Arctium lappa. Am J Chin Med. 1996;24(2):127-137.
  9. Zhao F. In vitro anti-inflammatory effects of arctigenin, a lignan from Arctium lappa L., through inhibition on iNOS pathway. J Ethnopharmacol. 21Apr2009;122(3):457-462.
  10. Park SY. Lignans from Arctium lappa and their inhibition of LPS-induced nitric oxide production. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). Jan2007;55(1):150-152.
  11. Kim BH. Diarctigenin, a lignan constituent from Arctium lappa, down-regulated zymosan-induced transcription of inflammatory genes through suppression of DNA binding ability of nuclear factor-kappaB in macrophages.J Pharmacol Exp Ther. Nov2008;327(2):393-401.
  12. Rang, H.P., Dale, M.M., Ritter, J.M., and Gardner, P.  2001.  Pharmacology (4th edition): Local hormones, inflammation and allergy. New York: Churchill Livingstone.
  13. Cho MK. Arctigenin, a phenylpropanoid dibenzylbutyrolactone lignan, inhibits MAP kinases and AP-1 activation via potent MKK inhibition: the role in TNF-alpha inhibition. Int Immunopharmacol. Oct2004;4(10-11):1419-1429.
  14. Knott A. Natural Arctium lappa fruit extract improves the clinical signs of aging skin. J Cosmet Dermatol. Dec2008;7(4):281-289.
  15. Swanston-Flatt SK. Glycaemic effects of traditional European plant treatments for diabetes. Studies in normal and streptozotocin diabetic mice. Diabetes Res. Feb1989;10(2):69-73.
  16. Xu Z. The antidiabetic activity of total lignan from Fructus Arctii against alloxan-induced diabetes in mice and rats. Phytother Res. Jan2008;22(1):97-101.
  17. Fletcher GF. Burdock root tea poisoning. JAMA. Oct1978;240(15):1586.
  18. Rhoads PM. Anticholinergic poisonings associated with commercial burdock root tea. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1984-1985;22(6):581-584.