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The common burdock, that well-known source of annoying burrs matted in dogs' fur, is also a medicinal herb of considerable reputation. Called gobo**in Japan, burdock root is said to be a food that provides deep strengthening to the immune system. In ancient China and India, herbalists used it in the treatment of respiratory infections, abscesses, and joint pain. European physicians of the Middle Ages and later used it to treat cancerous tumors, skin conditions, venereal disease, and bladder and kidney problems.
Burdock was a primary ingredient in the famous (or infamous) Hoxsey cancer treatment. Harry Hoxsey was a former coal miner who parlayed a traditional family remedy for cancer into the largest privately owned cancer treatment center in the world, with branches in 17 states. (It was shut down in the 1950s by the FDA. Harry Hoxsey himself subsequently died of cancer.) Other herbs in his formula included red clover , poke, prickly ash, bloodroot , and barberry. Burdock is also found in the famous herbal cancer remedy Essiac.
Despite this historical enthusiasm, there is no significant evidence that burdock is an effective treatment for cancer or any other illness.
A typical dosage of burdock is 1 to 2 g of powdered dry root 3 times per day.