Jun 10

The following is written by a burn care worker concerning the use of burdock leaves in dressing of burns. The burn care worker is a Certified Master Herbalist and a practicing midwife with over 175 births. She uses the method recommended by John Keim, an Amish burn caretaker, to treat burns.

Burdock Leaves – An Innovative Burn Treatment

–by a Burn Care Worker

Burdock Plant

Burdock Plant

Who ever heard of treating burns with burdock? Mainstream medicine is certainly not promoting this treatment. But mainstream medicine is having a lot of trouble with treating burns. Deep burns often heal poorly. They struggle with infection especially in a hospital situation where we all know that germs abound.

Burn patients have lots of pain and anyone whose loved one has gone through treatment for serious burns knows that wound dressing changes usually necessitate morphine or stronger medicine for the patient to be able to stand the treatment.

Burdock Flower

Burdock Flower

Burn care for 2nd and 3rd degree burns often costs the family lots of money and time in the hospital. Using burdock and B&W nearly always results in a greatly shortened healing time, no skin grafts and much less scarring.

Enter, the lowly burdock. This plant is actually a weed that most farmers despise and do all they can to get rid of, but it comes in handy for pain management and speeds healing time greatly. It eases dressing changes and seems to impede bacterial growth on the wound site and it also provides a great moisture barrier.

Burdock Leaf

Burdock Leaf

This, which by the way, is what burn units are looking for when they think of great burn care. And, it costs nothing if you harvest it yourself.

How in the world did anyone begin to use burdock in this way? John Keim, an Amish alternative practitioner, was in dire need for a remedy to treat the burns on his own son and he had gone to the woods to meditate and seek Divine guidance.

In due time, his attention was drawn to some nice, big plantain leaves right before him which he believed would serve as an ideal non-stick barrier between the salve he had applied to his son’s body and the gauze body wrap.

It worked, but later, it was discovered that burdock leaves are more effective, although plantain leaves are still used under certain circumstances.

As Keim used the plantain, grape and other leaves in his burn dressing, he kept experimenting. Burdock came to be the leaf of choice for the reasons I mentioned above. Another reason is the size and the availability of the burdock. Burdocks leaves get HUGE. A large leaf can cover a small child’s back in one application.

For a full account of how through seeking Divine guidance this treatment was discovered see this article on John Keim.

Study your plant. Learn where it grows. These plants grow at field and roadside edges and even cover fields at times, to their owners dismay. Harvest the leaves when they are larger than a man’s hand. I like them when they are a good bit larger than that.

Wait until the dew is dry in the morning and the sun is shining. Cut the leaves, making sure to use only good quality, clean ones. Bring them home and cut off the rib on the back. I have learned by trial and error to take a large scissors and cut the main rib off as close to the leaf as possible.

If you cut through the leaf, when it dries it splits wide open. You will learn by experimenting. Lay out the leaves to dry, in a warm, dark place. I lay mine all over a double bed in a room where no one sleeps at the moment. Lay them as flat as possible. It takes 4-7 days for the leaves to dry.

When the leaves are fully dry, (make sure they are or they will mold) place them carefully in a plastic tub with a tight lid, about shoe box size. You can use a cardboard shoe box if you wish. Store these until you need them and then rehydrate them using the following method.

Bring water to boil in a large kettle. When the water is boiling turn off the heat. Carefully lower the leaf into the water and let it hydrate. When it turns a nice green, dip it out gently and lay it flat on a sheet of paper towel or Chux pad. I like the green pads that folks use to protect the bed from getting wet.

Fold that pad in half and lay your hydrated leaves on this, side by side. I am speaking of how you would do if you had a large area to cover. Now, spread your B&W salve thickly over the burned area and place a wet leaf over the salve.

This leaf will help to keep in the moisture and fight bacteria and relieve pain. We like to put a sterile ABD pad over the leaf and then wrap the area with rolled gauze. The end result is a neat looking, padded bandage which really protects the burn.

For those of you, still in doubt, there are now, some hospitals in the USA that are allowing us to go into their hospital and dress burns for our people, if the patient needs extra care like IV’s to hydrate them. When you have a severe burn over a large area, you usually need some help to keep you patient from collapsing in shock.

Burns are a severe trauma to the body. But it is really interesting to note that these hospitals, though they do not use the treatment themselves, allow us to treat the patient and are impressed with what is happening.

We found that they were especially impressed with the fact that we could change the dressings without morphine or pain management. This is very important. Pain medication, though sometimes necessary, really slows the body’s ability to make new skin cells. That is why burdock and B&W salve are such a blessing. They make it possible to dress burns without much, or any pain medication.

The doctors and nurses were very interested with the salve and reported that their recent burn seminars on the West Coast had discussed the beneficial use of honey for burns. B&W has honey as one of its main ingredients.

When you study the burdock plant you will discover that it is a mild blood purifier and helps the liver rebuild and is useful in burns. No one says why it is useful in burns. I suspect that this same component that rebuilds cells in the liver, also stimulates cell growth in the wound area. This action would indeed reduce pain.

Whenever you feed and nourish the body you help to silence the pain signals. Pain is a signal that the body is in trouble. If the building blocks that the body needs are in place, the pain signals go away. We find this true whenever we have other wounds or broken bones. When we feed the body what it needs to rebuild the bones, the pain is gone! I have lots of interesting personal stories about this. So, I expect that the same thing occurs in the burn site.

Another interesting note, is that two of our hospitals have allowed caregivers to teach families how to dress other wounds with B&W and burdock. They have treated deep leg wounds and other deep cuts and brush burns with the same method and the same success.

When you go out today, look for burdock to bring home and dry. Do not put it off. Last spring I treated a 3rd degree hand burn without the burdock since it was March and there were none around. I was going to dry some for the next time I needed them, but I neglected to.

This March I had another burn, much deeper and larger to treat, and we had a hard time finding the burdock that we needed. Now I have taken the challenge and I am drying lots of burdock. Someday, someone may need it.

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5 Responses to “Burdock Leaves”

  1. 1. Carolina Ahlstedt Says:

    Dear burns care worker,

    I have read the article about the treatment of burns using burdock leaves with great interest, and have a few questions: The first of which is quite simply “What is B&W?” I am Swedish, and have never heard of this salve. I assume that it is a proprietary brand that can be found here and there on the North American Continent But Not Here. …or am I wrong? could you explain what it is, where one gets hold of it, or even better, what are the active ingredients, how it is composed, etc, so maybe I can either find an equivalent here in Sweden or make it myself. We have enormous amounts of splendid burdock and plantain here, and the idea of using them for wound treatment is both interesting and appealing, if I may use that word in conjunction with wounds.

    How long will these dried leaves keep?

    I have seen an extract of burdock root for sale on herbal remedies websites; is this any use? please can you let me know as much information on this plant and its uses as possible, or can you even direct me to sources of information?

    I look forward to learning much more about this

    yours sincerely,
    Carolina Ahlstedt

  2. 2. Kazzandra Says:

    You probably already have the information or found it somehow, but for others who are curious:

  3. 3. alice montjoy Says:

    What is wb salve?

  4. 4. germanbini Says:

    @ Alice and others re: B&W oinment. Stands for “Burns and Wounds” Ointment. Ingredients: Honey, lanolin, olive oil, wheat germ oil, aloe vera gel, marshmallow, wormwood, comfrey root, white oak bark, lobelia, vegetable glycerine, beeswax and myrrh.

  5. 5. Anna Says:

    As a child growing up in England, we used burdock leaves to rub over nettle stings. I always thought it interesting that the antidote was often found close by the offending plant.

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