This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Bardana, Pharm. Lond. & Edinb. Lappa major, arcium dioscoridis C. B. Personata five lappa major aut bardana J. B. Arctium Lappa Linn. Burdock: a biennial plant, common by road sides, sufficiently known by its scaly heads or burs; the leaves are very large, shaped somewhat like a heart, of a deep green colour above and whitish underneath: the seeds flatted, nearly oval, somewhat crooked, slightly striated, of a dark brown or blackish colour: the root large, straight, brownish on the outside and white within, composed of a thick cortical part, and a spongy medullary sub-stance, with more or less of a woody septum between them.
The roots of burdock have very little smell, and a weak taste, chiefly sweetish, mixed as it were with a flight bitterishness and roughness. Boiled in water, they impart a brownish colour, and a soft vapid kind of taste: extracts made from them, both by water and by rectified spirit, are weakly sweetish, bitterish, subastrin-gent, and subsaline. These roots are recommended as mild diuretics, diaphoretics, and sweeteners, in scorbutic, rheumatic, gouty, and venereal disorders; and are supposed to be of similar virtue to china and sarsaparilla; to which, in their sensible qualities, they have a considerable resemblance. They are used chiefly, and to the best advantage, in the form of decoction: two ounces of the dried root are boiled in three pints of water, till one pint is wafted, and a pint or more of the drained liquor taken warm every day.
The expressed juice of the leaves has been sometimes given, to the quantity of a quarter of a pint or more, in the same intentions. The leaves are bitter and more saline than the roots, and have nothing of their sweetishness: the juice, depurated, and infpiffated to the confluence of an extract, discovers a moderately strong penetrating, saline bitterness.
The seeds also are bitterish and slightly aromatic; and have been given, in doses of a dram, as a diuretic, and as an aperient in disorders of the bread. They are said be purgative. A good deal of care is requisite, to clear them thoroughly from the prickly matter with which they are covered, and which, if swallowed, Decoctum bardanae Nosocom. Ed swallowed, immediately discovers how much it offends the parts it passes through, by the uneasy sensations it produces in the throat (a).