What Is Niu Bang Zi (Fructus Arctii or Burdock Seeds)

Niu Bang Zi is also called Fructus Arctii or Burdock Seeds and is the fruit of Arctium lappa, which is a biennial herb belonging to the family Asteraceae. It has a medicinal history of more than 1,800 years.

The origin of Arctium lappa is Europe and Asia, and it has now been introduced around the world. It has high nutritional value and is an economic crop.

Arctium lappa has the highest protein and calcium content of all rhizome plants. It contains carotene in an amount 150 times that of carrots. It contains many kinds of vitamins and minerals required by the human body such as inulin, cellulose, protein, calcium, phosphorus, and iron.

After its fruit is ripe in the autumn of each year, people pick their fruits, dry them, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines. The better Niu Bang Zi is flat, fat, and long oval with taupe. After it is stir-fried, its color will be deeper and shiny. It can be used as a tea for drinking.

According to <Mingyi Bie Lu> (Appendant Records of Famous Physicians), the medicinal property of Niu Bang Zi is relatively cold and it tastes bitter, pungent, and numb. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the lung and stomach meridians.

In Chinese medicine, Niu Bang Zi is mainly used to treat wind-heat, headache, sore throat, mumps, and skin ulcers.

In 920 AD, Japan introduced burdock from China and improved it into food. The edible Niu Bang (Burdock) is the root of Arctium lappa, and Niu Bang Gen (Burdock Root) is also called gobō.

Niu Bang Gen and Niu Bang Zi can be made into medicines and cosmetics. There are some differences in their efficacy.

There are about 50 kinds of traditional Chinese medicine formula containing Niu Bang Zi, such as Yin Qiao San and Xiao Feng San.

Health benefits of Niu Bang Zi

  • Treating rhinitis, sinusitis, insomnia, and intractable headaches.
  • Treating damage and lesions of the retina and reducing the intraocular pressure.
  • Treating high blood pressure, high blood fat, and boosting immunity.
  • Reducing the activity of renal cortex envelope PKC enzyme and treating kidney disease and diabetes.
  • Treating fever, cough, and sore throat caused by wind-heat and eliminating phlegm.
  • Treating measles, rubella, urticaria, macula, and skin ulcer and relieving itching.
  • Promoting intestinal peristalsis, treating habitual constipation, and having a diuretic effect.
  • Eliminating oxygen free radicals, preventing the formation of age spots, and delaying aging.
  • Removing toxins from the blood and promoting blood circulation.
  • Its decoction can inhibit Staphylococcus aureus and a variety of pathogenic fungi and reduce HIV activity.
  • The lignan compounds contained in Niu Bang Zi have anti-tumor effects and can treat breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, liver cancer, and leukemia.

Niu Bang Zi is used with other Chinese herbs

  • Niu Bang Zi with Bai Zhi (Angelica Dahurica) can treat peripheral facial paralysis.
  • Niu Bang Zi with Zhu Ma Gen (Radix Boehmeriae) and Gan Cao (Licorice Root) can treat sleep apnea syndrome.
  • Niu Bang Zi with Da Huang (Rhubarb Root) and Shui Zhi (Leech) can treat hyperlipidemia.
  • Niu Bang Zi with Jie Geng (Radix Platycodi), Sang Ye (Mulberry Leaf), Chuan Bei Mu (Fritillaria cirrhosa), and Gan Cao (Licorice Root) can treat the cough and phlegm caused by wind-heat and lung heat.
  • Niu Bang Zi with Jie Geng (Radix Platycodi), Gang Mei Gen (Ilex asprella root), and Pang Da Hai (Boat-fruited Scaphium Seed) can treat tonsil swelling, acute laryngitis, sore throat, hoarseness, dry mouth, and itchy throat.

Side effects of Niu Bang Zi

Taking it for a long time may cause diarrhea.

A small number of people may have chest tightness, shortness of breath, throat obstruction, headache, vomiting, skin papule, itching, and other allergic reactions after using it.

Precautions of Niu Bang Zi

  • The dosage of Niu Bang Zi should be controlled at 5-10g.
  • It can be used as a decoction or ground into powder for oral administration. Stir-frying it can reduce the coldness of the medicine.
  • People with wind-cold should not take it.
  • Pregnant women and menstrual women should not take it.
  • People with weak spleen and stomach or diarrhea should not take it.