Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that affects more than 23 million Americans or almost 8 percent of the population, according to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. It develops when your body stops producing insulin or when it is unable to react normally to insulin that is still being made. Insulin moves glucose from the blood into cells where it is needed. In diabetics, blood glucose or sugar levels are too high, and cells are unable to get the glucose they need. Burdock is an herbal remedy that may help keep your blood sugar level in a healthy range if you are diabetic. Consult your doctor to discuss whether burdock is a good choice for you.
Causes and Symptoms
Type 1 diabetes is caused by an abnormal immune response that destroys the cells that produce insulin, while type 2 diabetes develops when the body's cells become resistant to insulin. Symptoms of both forms of diabetes include increased thirst, constant hunger, fatigue, poor or blurred vision and slowness to heal from cuts or sores. Diabetes also causes frequent urination and recurring bladder or vaginal infections due to the presence of sugar in the urine.
Burdock, or Arctium lappa, is a wild plant found in temperate regions worldwide. It has deep, thick roots that have been used in traditional herbal medicine for thousands of years. Practitioners recommend burdock for cleaning the blood of toxic compounds and as a diuretic to flush the kidneys. It is also used as a digestive aid and as a prebiotic to support the growth of healthy intestinal bacteria. Burdock is also recommended to lower blood sugar levels. It contains several biologically active compounds that may be responsible for its medicinal properties.
Two of the active components in burdock, called arctin and arctigenin, may affect your body's carbohydrate metabolism. These natural chemicals tend to lower your blood sugar level after a carbohydrate-rich meal, inducing hypoglycemia and keeping your blood sugar from rising quickly. In a clinical study published in a Chinese journal in 2004, diabetic subjects consumed either a burdock extract or a placebo. Those who took burdock experienced a lower blood glucose level after a meal than those who took the placebo. In addition, burdock also tended to lower blood cholesterol and improve kidney function in the study subjects. These are promising results, although larger clinical trials of burdock are still needed.
Recommendations and Precautions
Burdock is available as a loose, dried powder or as a supplement in capsules. The usual supplement dose is 1 to 2 g, three times daily. A tea may also be prepared from dried root by steeping it in boiling water for 10 minutes; the tea may be consumed several times daily. Although burdock is considered safe, without serious side effects, you may experience a rash if you are allergic to daisies, chrysanthemums or ragweed. Do not take burdock if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you take diuretics or diabetes medications. Discuss its use in detail with your doctor before adding it to your regimen.
- National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse: Diabetes Overview
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Burdock
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Burdock
- Herbs 2000: Burdock
- "Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi"; Clincial Observations on Treatment of Diabetic Nephropathy With Compound Fructus Arctii Mixture; H. Wang and Y. Chen; 2004