How Arctium lappa Cures Autoimmune Disease and Chronic Infection
DISCLAIMER: CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR BEFORE DECIDING ON A TREATMENT PLAN FOR ANY DISEASE OR INJURY.
Burdock (otherwise known as thorny burr, beggar’s buttons, or bardana) is a plant native to Europe and Asia that particularly thrives in more temperate, northern climates. The roots of Arctium lappa are used medicinally in a variety of traditional healing systems, including Traditional Chinese Medicine and traditional Native American medicine. The leaves and roots of the plant can also be used for food.
Arctium lappa has been studied as an antibacterial agent that may be an effective treatment for bacteria-caused “autoimmune” diseases and other pathogenic bacterial infections such as:
- Multiple sclerosis/MS (caused by Acinetobacter baylyi and/or Pseudomonas aeruginosa)
- Rheumatoid arthritis/RA (caused by Proteus mirabilis and/or Proteus vulgaris)
- Ankylosing spondylitis (caused by Klebsiella pneumoniae)
- Lyme disease (Borrelia spp.)
- Escherichia coli (leaves)
- Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and Staphylococcus mutans (leaves)
- Helicobacter pylori
- Yersinia pseudotuberculosis
- Salmonella abony
- Schistosoma haematobium
- Serratia marcescens
Infections or other diseases and disorders caused by these bacteria listed above can also be treated using burdock root extract.
Antibacterial Qualities of Burdock Root
Burdock root has been used medicinally for thousands of years to treat cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases, and is noted for its immunoregulatory and anti-inflammatory effects in the body in addition to its ability to improve metabolism. It is an important part of Essiac Tea and the Hoxsey formula, both highly effective herbal remedies used to treat cancer, HIV/AIDS, and immune disorders, among other serious health problems. These tonics may also be able to treat chronic Lyme disease.
The flavonoids, tannins, and polyphenols in burdock root are generally considered the primary medicinal components of the plant. For example, the tannins in burdock root have been shown to be able to extract proteins from pathogenic bacteria, thereby effectively killing the bacteria; the flavonoids work similarly, though they specifically are able to bind with proteins on the cell walls of bacteria, which would also kill the bacteria.
One of the major advantages of burdock root is that it can attack and kill even drug-resistant bacteria. Many of the bacteria that cause diseases like chronic Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis, and others are resistant to antibiotics and other drugs, and therefore can’t be targeted by conventional medications all that easily (if at all). Burdock root extracts, on the other hand, are significantly more effective since these drug-resistant bacteria are NOT resistant to burdock (and are unlikely to ever become resistant to burdock).
Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis / Proteus mirabilis / Proteus vulgaris
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a condition considered to be an autoimmune disease by conventional medicine, is often caused by an underlying bacterial infection with Proteus mirabilis or Proteus vulgaris. These are Gram-negative bacteria that are associated with urinary tract infections (UTIs) and upper respiratory tract infections. Treatment using natural antibacterial medicines can help relieve symptoms of or even cure rheumatoid arthritis.
Burdock root has been studied as an antibacterial cure for RA. Arctium lappa root methanol, ethyl acetate, and aqueous extracts all can inhibit growth of P. mirabilis in vitro, though the methanol extracts are stronger than the other two. Aqueous extracts may be more accessible to the average patient, though, and may be stronger for inhibiting growth of P. vulgaris.
Treatment of Ankylosing Spondylitis / Klebsiella pneumoniae
Ankylosing spondylitis is another autoimmune disease with its root cause found in bacterial infection. AS is caused by the Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria, a Gram-negative bacteria that may also be implicated in the development of other health issues including meningitis, osteomyelitis, UTIs, upper respiratory tract infections, cholecystitis, pneumonia, and more. In the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis and other diseases caused by K. pneumonia, aqueous, methanolic, and ethyl acetate extracts of Arctium lappa have been found to be most effective.
Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) / Acinetobacter baylyi / Pseudomonas aeruginosa
The autoimmune disease known as multiple sclerosis (MS) is frequently triggered by an infection with Acinetobacter baylyi or Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A. baylyi is another Gram-negative bacteria, as is P. aeruginosa, which is known to cause not only MS but also pneumonia, meningitis, septicemia, endocarditis, malignant external otitis, and more. It can be treated using burdock root extracts.
All of the different kinds of extracts of Arctium lappa can inhibit growth of P. aeruginosa, while methanolic, ethyl acetate, and aqueous extracts have been found to be most effective in targeting A. baylyi. Use of an aqueous extract of burdock root may be able to kill both of these bacteria.
Treatment of Chronic Lyme Disease / Borrelia spp.
Conventional medicine claims that the lingering or long-term Lyme disease symptoms seen in chronic Lyme disease patients have an “unknown” cause. Once a Lyme disease patient has been given antibiotic treatment, if they continue to have symptoms, doctors will claim to not have any other treatment options available since the infection is supposed to be gone (according to what they know). In reality, in most chronic Lyme disease patients, Borrelia bacteria hides out under biofilm and progressively colonizes different parts of the body. Since chronic Lyme disease patients are facing a chronic bacterial infection, treatment of this infection is absolutely essential for recovery.
Borrelia bacteria are also Gram-negative, like many of the other bacteria that burdock root can kill, which substantiates the idea that burdock root has a positive, therapeutic effect in the treatment of Lyme disease. In addition, burdock root has traditionally been used in Japan as a treatment for syphilis, another spirochete bacteria like Borrelia. There is little to no scientific research on the effects of burdock root on Borrelia bacteria specifically, but given the other compelling antibacterial aspects of burdock treatment, it’s likely that it would be an effective herbal treatment for Lyme disease.
Other Medicinal Applications of Burdock Root
Burdock root can also be used to treat the health problems listed below:
- Kidney stones
- Irregular menstruation
- Menopausal symptoms
- Lymphatic issues (burdock root stimulates lymphatic flow and encourages the cellular detoxification)
- Gallbladder and liver conditions
- Fungal infections
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Chronic glandular enlargements
- Mercury poisoning
Burdock root is nutritionally rich, and naturally contains multiple minerals, including phosphorus, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, potassium, and sodium, in addition to thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin A, and vitamin C. It also contains volatile oils and inulin.
In addition to having antibacterial properties, burdock root also has antifungal, antiviral, and antiparasitic activity. Some of the other pathogens that burdock root may be able to treat in humans include:
- Aspergillus niger (fungus; black mold)
- Candida albicans and Candida tropicalis (fungus)
- Herpes virus (HSV1 and HSV2)
- Schistosoma mansoni (parasite; blood flukes, causes intestinal schistosomiasis)
How to Take Burdock Root to Treat Lyme Disease and Other Bacterial Infections
- Burdock Root Tincture – Take 20-60 drops of 1:1 liquid extract 1-4 times per day with a glass of fresh water.
- Burdock Root Decoction – Combine 1 heaping tablespoon of dried herb or 3 tablespoons of fresh herb with 1 cup of water in a kettle or small saucepan. Cover and simmer on low for 15-25 minutes. Let the decoction steep for 10 minutes after this, then strain and drink immediately. Make and drink this decoction 2-3 times per day.
Contraindications for Burdock Root Use
Women who are pregnant should not take burdock root since Arctium lappa has an effect on oxytocin and may stimulate uterine contractions.
If you are severely allergic to any plants in the Asteraceae/Aster plant family, such as ragweed, sunflower, safflower, chrysanthemum, or others, use extra caution when using burdock root since this plant is in the same family. You may not have any issue with burdock, but it’s important to only take it in the presence of a qualified health practitioner at first just in case you have a serious reaction.
Other contraindications for burdock root use include:
- Bleeding disorders
- Diabetes (use with caution since burdock root may cause a decrease in blood sugar)
- Dehydration/Electrolyte imbalance
Burdock root may decrease the efficacy of other pharmaceutical drugs if taken at the same time, since the herb increases gut motility and therefore might decrease drug absorption. It may also have additive effects with diuretics or anti-diabetic drugs (meaning that it may make these stronger). Burdock root can also increase levels of CYP3A4 substrates.
Zhao, N. et al. (2021). A. Arctium lappa L. Root Extracts Inhibit the Growth of Bacterial Triggers of Selected Autoimmune Inflammatory Diseases and Potentiate the Activity of Conventional Antibiotics. Retrieved July 19, 2022 from: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ian-Cock/publication/355169627_Arctium_Lappa_L_Root_Extracts_Inhibit_The_Growth_Of_Bacterial_Triggers_Of_Selected_Autoimmune_Inflammatory_Diseases_And_Potentiate_The_Activity_Of_Conventional_Antibiotics/links/6163740ee7993f536cbe2809/Arctium-Lappa-L-Root-Extracts-Inhibit-The-Growth-Of-Bacterial-Triggers-Of-Selected-Autoimmune-Inflammatory-Diseases-And-Potentiate-The-Activity-Of-Conventional-Antibiotics.pdf
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