According to the Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China (2020), burdock was first described in Mingyibielu, an ancient medical book, and belongs to the family Asteraceae. The dried, ripe fruit tastes bitter and is cold in nature to the lungs and stomach. It is also used for wind-heat evacuation, lung through rash, detoxification and pharynx effect. According to the Chinese pharmacopoeia, the arctiin derived from Arctium lappa must have a concentration of at least 5.0% in dried products. Furthermore, the moisture content must be no more than 9.0%, and the total ash content must not exceed 7.0%. Diseases such as cold, phlegm-producing coughs, measles, rubella and sore throats can be treated using clinical methods. Recent research states that several chemical components are present abundantly in A. lappa, with lignans, volatile oils, fatty acids, terpenoids and phenolic acids being the primary components. Therefore, burdock has several anti-tumour, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. A. lappa has been used as a medicine since ancient times. The taipingshenghuifang in burdock powder known as Niubangzi (Fructus arctii) is used to treat heat and poison attacks, as well as hot, rough faeces. Furthermore, Niubangzi is acrid in flavour and neutral in nature and serves as an adjunct medicine to Yin Qiao San (Lonicera and Forsythia Powder), as stated in the wenbingtiaoli. It moistens the lungs, resolves heat, dissipates binds, extinguishes wind and relieves sore throat. There are currently many Chinese patent medicines made of burdock using modern pharmaceutical technology, such as Yanshu capsule, Yanshu oral liquid, QingreQudu pill, vitamin C Yinqiao granules, Yinqiao granules, Yinqiao tablets, sand plum Xiaoke capsule, Yulan hypoglycaemia-lowering capsule, red grass anti-snoring granules, Yimingmu tablets and many more.
Herbs to 2 m tall, biennial. Stem purplish, erect, stout, apically branched, sparsely cobwebby; branches ascending. Leaves abaxially grayish white or pale green and thinly felted, adaxially green, sparsely strigose, and yellow gland-dotted. Basal leaves with petiole ca. 32 cm; leaf blade broadly heart-shaped, ca. 30 × 21 cm, margin entire and repand to mucronulate denticulate. Cauline leaves similar to basal leaves or ovate; uppermost cauline leaves ovate to shallowly cordate, smaller. Capitula few to many, ± corymbose. Involucre ovoid, 1.5-2 cm in diam., glabrous except for minute glandular hairs. Phyllaries all with a hooked apex; outer phyllaries triangular to lanceolate-subulate, ca. 15 × 1 mm; middle and inner phyllaries lanceolate to linear-subulate, ca. 15 × 1.5-3 mm. Corolla purplish red, ca. 1.4 cm, tube ca. 8 mm. Achene pale brown variegated with dark brown or concolorous, narrowly sometimes obliquely obovoid, 5-7 mm, multistriate. Pappus bristles to 3.5 mm. Fl. and fr. Jun-Sep. 2n = 18, 34, 36.
Near villages, roadsides, near rivers, wet and waste places, forest margins, thickets, valleys, slopes; 700-3500 m. Throughout China except for Hainan, Taiwan, and Xizang [Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Japan, Nepal, Pakistan; SW Asia, Europe].