FRESH HERB: BURDOCK (Arctium lappa)
PLANT CYCLE: Biennial
SOIL REQUIREMENTS: Prefers loam but will tolerate most soil conditions
LIGHT REQUIREMENTS: Full sun, partial shade, or shade
PARTS USED: Roots
OF HISTORICAL NOTE: Burdock root, also known as gobo, is considered a vegetable in Asian cultures. Burdock arrived on the North American colonists. Burdock’s infamous burrs inspired the creation of Velcro.
MEDICINAL USES: Burdock has incredible blood-cleansing capabilities and offers excellent support to the liver, urinary, tract, and skin. By enhancing kidney function and cleansing the liver, it helps felines clear their systems of waste and toxins, It is especially helpful in easing the symptoms of arthritis and improving skin conditions.
The easiest method of giving burdock to your cat is to grind the root into a powder and sprinkle it on your cat’s food. You can also give your cat burdock tea or tincture.
GROWING YOUR OWN: Because of its sticky burrs , not many gardeners enjoy having burdock around. But burdock root is harvested after its first year of growth, and in that first year, burdock produces only a rosette of leaves – no big plant, no flowers, no seeds, and no sticky burrs.
To grow this biennial after spring Burdock grows in just about any location; the plant prefers loam but tolerates most soil conditions. Burdock seeds germinate quickly, and seedlings should be thinned to about 18 inches apart.
HARVESTING AND STORING: Harvest burdock’s deep taproot in the full of the year or the spring of the second year.
CAUTIONS: In rare cases, burdock leaves cause contact dermatitis. Some felines experience diarrhea with extended use of burdock; if this happens, simply stop giving the herb to your cat.
BURDOCK DAILY DETOX TEA SUPPLEMENT
(Adapted from 10 Herbs for Happy Healthy Dogs, by Kathleen Brown (Storey Books, 2000)
This daily supplement will help clear your cat’s system of toxins. Burdock, nettle, and red clover are great tonic herbs, supporting and strengthening the body’s systems. Calendula aids in liver function and gives the immune system a boost.
1 teaspoon dried burdock root
2 cups water
1 teaspoon dried calandula blossoms
1 teaspoon dried nettle leaves
1 teaspoon dried red clover blossoms
TO MAKE A TEA: Add the burdock root to the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the remaining herbs, and steep, covered, 10 minutes. Strain and allow the tea to cool.
TO MAKE CAPSULES: You can also make capsules with this formula, following these instructions:
CAPSULES: These supplements are a handy way for your cat to benefit from herbs without too much effort on a daily basis. Capsules are handy if your cat snubs her food with any foreign additives but tolerates taking pills. Most herb shops and natural foods stores sell herbal capsules.
You can also custom-blend capsules to fit your cat’s needs. Buy some small, empty pull-apart capsules at your local health food store.Use a clean coffee grinder or pestle and mortar to reduce the herbs to a fine powder. Fill each capsule halfway, and close. Since you will not want to do this on a daily basis, be sure to store extras in a well-sealed, dark-coloured glass jar, preferably in the refrigerator or freezer.
The quickest method of administering a capsule is to insert the pill into a ball of moist cat food and serve it up as a treat. Be sure to follow this up with another soft treat to make sure that your cat swallowed the pill.
If your cat keeps spitting out the pill, here’s another option: Hold the cat’s head with one hand, applying light upward pressure on the upper jaw with your thumb and fingers. Use your other hand to open the cat’s mouth and pop the pill on it’s tongue as far back as possible. Then hold the cats jaws closed and massage its throat to induce swallowing . Try blowing a quick puff of air into its face. When the cat blimks, he swallows – it’s an automatic reflex (similar to the way we close our eyes when we sneeze).
TO USE: Administer burdock orally, following the dosage guidelines page 10/11: (Storey Book 10 Herbs for Happy Healthy Cats)
In our case Daisy May is a 10-20lbs body weight (approx 12lbs. So General Rules for Administering Herbs to Cats Approved from Dr. Kidd’s Guide to Herbal Cat Care by Randy Kidd, D.V.M. (Storey Books, 2000).
Sprinkles (put on the cat’s food once daily): A bigger pinch.
Teas (poured over food or into the cat’s water): 1/4 cup one or two times daily.
Capsules/Tablets (administered orally): 1/4 to 1 capsules or tablet one to three daily.
Tinctures (in the cat’s water or food or given directly by mouth): 3 to 5 drops one to three times daily.
BURDOCK ROOT: This common Japanese vegetable is found in sushi bars, health food stores, Japanese markets, and many herbal formulas. Reports of its toxicity stem from a single instance in which a batch of burdock was contaminated with belladonna root, which contains three toxic alkaloids, including atropine. Some medical authorities continue to list burdock as toxic. Burdock is a category 1 herb.