Use in traditional medicine
Folk herbalists consider dried burdock to be a diuretic, diaphoretic, and a blood purifying agent. Various parts are used to prevent baldness and to treat rheumatoid arthritis, skin infections, acne, boils, bites, eczema, herpes, impetigo, rashes, ringworm, sore throat, sciatica, poison ivy and poison oak, as a tonic, diuretic and mild laxative, to stimulate bile production and to induce sweating. The seeds of greater burdock are used in traditional Chinese medicine, under the name niupangzi (Chinese:; pinyin: niúpángzi; some dictionaries list the Chinese as just niúbàng.)
Seeds contain arctigenin which may help memory. Arctiin and its aglucone, arctigenin has showen potent in vitro antiviral activities against influenza A virus in mice.Arctiin is transformed into a number of estrogenic metabolites by human intestinal bacteria. Arctigenin is has demonstrated antiinflamatory activity (in vitro)
Burdock is one ingredient in Essiac.The seeds have shown some anticancer activity in vitro.[10
Greater burdock was used during the Middle Ages as a vegetable, but now it is rarely used, with the exception of Japan where it is called gobo (?? or ???), Taiwan (??), Korea where it is called ueong (??), Italy, Brazil and Portugal, where it is known as bardana or "garduna". Plants are cultivated for their slender roots, which can grow about 1 meter long and 2 cm across.
Immature flower stalks may also be harvested in late spring, before flowers appear. The taste resembles that of artichoke, to which the burdock is related.
In the second half of the 20th century, burdock achieved international recognition for its culinary use due to the increasing popularity of the macrobiotic diet, which advocates its consumption. The root contains a fair amount of gobo dietary fiber (GDF, 6g per 100g), calcium, potassium, amino acids, and is low calorie. It contains polyphenols that causes darkened surface and muddy harshness by formation of tannin-iron complexes. Those polyphenols are caffeoylquinic acid derivatives.
The root is very crisp and has a sweet, mild, and pungent flavor with a little muddy harshness that can be reduced by soaking julienned/shredded roots in water for five to ten minutes. The harshness shows excellent harmonization with pork in miso soup (tonjiru) and takikomi gohan (a Japanese-style pilaf).
A popular Japanese dish is kinpira gobo, julienned or shredded burdock root and carrot, braised with soy sauce, sugar, mirin and/or sake, and sesame oil. Another is burdock makizushi (rolled sushi filled with pickled burdock root; the burdock root is often artificially colored orange to resemble a carrot). In Kyoto, gobo can also be found as a snack food similar to potato chips. The root is eaten cooked and the young sprout can be eaten just like asparagus. Gobo is also used in tempura.