A review of the pharmacological effects of Arctium lappa (burdock)

Yuk Shing Chan, Long Ni Cheng, Jian Hong Wu, Enoch Chan, Yiu Wa Kwan, Simon Ming Yuen Lee, George Pak Heng Leung, Peter Hoi Fu Yu, Shun Wan Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

237 Citations (Scopus)


Arctium lappa, commonly known as burdock, is being promoted/recommended as a healthy and nutritive food in Chinese societies. Burdock has been used therapeutically in Europe, North America and Asia for hundreds of years. The roots, seeds and leaves of burdock have been investigated in view of its popular uses in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). In this review, the reported therapeutic effects of the active compounds present in the different botanical parts of burdock are summarized. In the root, the active ingredients have been found to "detoxify" blood in terms of TCM and promote blood circulation to the skin surface, improving the skin quality/texture and curing skin diseases like eczema. Antioxidants and antidiabetic compounds have also been found in the root. In the seeds, some active compounds possess anti-inflammatory effects and potent inhibitory effects on the growth of tumors such as pancreatic carcinoma. In the leaf extract, the active compounds isolated can inhibit the growth of micro-organisms in the oral cavity. The medicinal uses of burdock in treating chronic diseases such as cancers, diabetes and AIDS have been reported. However, it is also essential to be aware of the side effects of burdock including contact dermatitis and other allergic/inflammatory responses that might be evoked by burdock.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-254
Number of pages10
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2011


  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Arctium lappa (burdock)
  • Pharmacology
  • Traditional Chinese medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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