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Burdock is an all-purpose herb that has been used continually for numerous purposes over the last few thousand years in Asia and Europe, and more recently in North America. It is a food plant called gobo in Japanese and is a much-consumed vegetable in Japan. The root may be eaten fresh or cooked and the young leaves can be cooked like any other vegetable. The stalks have a taste somewhat like asparagus and can be eaten raw in a salad, boiled, or candied with sugar.
In traditional Chinese medicine, burdock fruit has been used continually for thousands of years. It is known to balance internal heat, is specifically helpful for supporting skin health, and is associated with lung and stomach meridians. It is considered energetically cold and has a slippery consistency that soothes mucus membranes. The root is also commonly cooked in order to change its energetic properties and specifically to make it easier to digest. In European folk medicine, an infusion or decoction of the seeds was employed as a diuretic. It was helpful in enhancing health through supporting digestion and as a topical poultice.