Is Burdock Safe During Pregnancy? Tea, Root, and More

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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With its earthy and rich aroma and flavor, the burdock plant is related to the dandelion and is in demand for its potential health benefits. However, is it safe to eat (or drink) during pregnancy?

Unfortunately, burdock stimulates the uterus and can potentially cause premature delivery, though unlikely. Therefore, burdock in all forms — food, tea, and supplemental — should be avoided during pregnancy.

There are many intricacies of consuming burdock during pregnancy, from food amounts to supplements to tea. Let’s discuss the main ideas!

Is Burdock Root Safe When Pregnant? 

The burdock plant, or Arctium lappais, is a popular and aromatic herb native to Asia and Europe for culinary and medicinal purposes.

From the root, leaves, and seeds, researchers have studied burdock’s effect on cancer, skin conditions, high blood sugar, and more.  However, evidence to support many of the health claims is lacking (source: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center). 

fresh burdock roots

A main component of burdock is a compound called inulin. Inulin is a dietary fiber type with proposed prebiotic properties in the gastrointestinal tract (source: Anaerobe).

A prebiotic is a type of dietary fiber that essentially feeds the bacteria in the gut microbiome or gut microbiota. The gut microbiota is the community of healthy bacteria living in the gastrointestinal tract. 

In addition, fresh burdock root is a natural diuretic, meaning it promotes a loss of water through urination. However, this increased urination can lead to dehydration.

Burdock is typically consumed in food, tea, and supplement amounts. As with many dietary supplements in the United States, they are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not approved for safety or effectiveness before they hit the shelves and are available to the general public.

It is recommended that pregnant women consult with their physician prior to consuming any dietary supplement. 

Unfortunately, research has shown that burdock in any amount has an increased risk of stimulating the uterus and can increase the risk of premature delivery (source: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center). Therefore, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid burdock plant products entirely. 

It is increasingly important to avoid burdock root, seeds, and leaves if you have an allergy to the Asteraceaea or Compositae plant family, which includes ragweed, marigolds, daisies, and chrysanthemum plants (source: The Asthma and Allergy Center). 

Is Burdock Root Tea Safe During Pregnancy? 

While burdock root may be present in lesser amounts in tea than in supplemental or even some food forms, it is still not recommended for pregnant women to drink it.

Unfortunately, some burdock herbal teas can be contaminated with alkaloids (for example, atropine), which can negatively affect the body’s nervous system (source: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center). 

Additionally, burdock root is commonly found in Essiac tea, along with sheep sorrel, slippery elm, and rhubarb. Essiac tea is widely used as an anti-cancer therapy (source: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center). However, the scientific evidence does not support Essiac tea for the treatment or prevention of cancer. 

Any form of burdock tea or beverage, including Essiac tea, should be avoided during your pregnancy. 

burdock tea, leaves and root on a table

Are Burdock Leaves Safe When Pregnant? 

Burdock leaves, like tea, supplements, and roots, should be avoided during pregnancy due to the increased risk of premature delivery — though unlikely. 

This includes the consumption of the well-known drink made from dandelion and burdock, IF it indeed contains real burdock (most of them contain burdock flavoring instead, which is safe if not made from the real root). This beverage should also be avoided during pregnancy due to the risk of uterine stimulation. 

Check out this article for more information on dandelion consumption, whether food, tea, or supplemental amounts. 

I hope you found this article helpful in discerning the safety of burdock consumption during pregnancy.