These photos are fresh. I have just been down to a local nature
reserve, near where I live, to take them. I have been following
the progress of this glorious patch of Arctium lappa (Burdock) since
the early spring.
The signatures of Burdock are complex (From the Doctrine of
Signatures, an old but presently applied belief system that states
the Creator placed a signature or sign on plants to indicate their
healing value). I believe that signatures go beyond the
physical attributes or specific resemblance to body parts and can
also encompass smell, taste, sound and feel.
If we look at the first picture we see that Burdock is
spreading and widely reaching. It is also strong and assured
looking. This reflects the plant itself, which is wide reaching
and reliable in the systems it affects.
One of the organs most affected by Burdock's far reaching action is
the skin. In the second picture we see the signature of the
skin in the leaves, which are greatly similar in their structure to
human skin...as well as the underlying vessels that serve it,
implying a deeper working in skin disease than a superficial one.
The exceptionally large leaves suggests the equally large
surface space occupied by our own skin in comparison to other
organs of the body. Burdock is particularly specific for skin
conditions that cause itching...to the point of scratching.
This specific action is reflected in the burrs themselves, as seen in
the lower picture. We see this same affiliation in other
herbs of a scratching nature such as Clivers (Galium aperine) or
Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica) both herbs known to be excellent in
the treatment of skin conditions.
Skin conditions usually signify a toxic state of the blood.
Burdock has an effect on three major organs that play a role in
keeping the blood in top form; The Liver, The Kidneys and the Skin.
It improves the action of both the Liver and the Kidneys and
facilitates the removal of toxins from the body through its
diaphoretic and diuretic action.
However, Burdock's action goes deeper than that. As a bitter
herb, it is naturally cooling. Its action in improving Liver
function takes physical heat from the body. There is also an
emotional element to this function. The liver is the centre of
physical heat in the body, but it is also the centre of emotional
heat, in the form of anger. Like its roots, which run deep,
Burdock can affect that deep seated and unreleased anger that sits in
the liver and is directed at ones self. It is also useful
against the unresolved outward anger (anger against others) that
gathers and stores in the gallbladder. If such anger remains
unresolved it hardens and rubs....and causes intermittent expressions
of pain...usually expressed as gall stones in the physical sate.
When I am mixing herbs I try to find one that matches a patient
profile closely. Burdock comes to mind quite often. You
will understand this when you think of how many people you know with
unresolved anger from the past. How many of those have gall
stones? How many have "hot" (itching/irritating)
skin conditions Guided by this understanding of
plant/patient profiles, the most empathetic plant to the overall
patient condition forms the primary role in my prescription
while other herbs are chosen to complement and support the character
of the dominant herb.
The leaves, roots and seeds of Burdock are gathered by
herbalists. Traditionally, roots are taken from first
year plants at the end of the growing season ( Autumn). It
is good if you are gathering the herb from the wild that you
take it from a place where Burdock has grown regularly over the years
as first year plants do not go on to develop the burs that help
with identification. Alternatively, you can grow some yourself
in your garden or vegetable patch. The roots are edible as
a vegetable while the leaves can be made into tea. I
have also used the leaves, in combination with other herbs, in a
Burdock is said to be drying. This would make sense with
respect to its diuretic and diaphoretic action. Perhaps this is
why it is said to work best in the form of an infusion...the extra
liquid intake working to balance its action.
For me Burdock has a strong connection to the water element, the
moon and the feminine. Its roots contain much mucilage...and it
does like damp, albeit well drained, habitats. Its
connection to the water element will mean it has a role to play in
heat and inflammation in the body. We have already
established it as a cooling plant. It takes heat from the body
by improving the liver function and, thus, the digestive process in
general...as well as through its role as diaphoretic in fever or
diuretic in inflammatory conditions of the urinary organs.
For me, many plants with that water-moon -feminine connection are
bound by a common signature....They all tend to have a
white/silveriness to the underside of their leaves. I would
like to explore this idea in another blog. In the meantime,
start to jot down all the plants you find with a whiteness under
their leaf...and see what their connection is to
water-moon-feminine..and what role might the water element
play in imbalances within the human condition?