In this third and final post in a 3-part series on Burdock Blood Bitters I include a photo of a beautiful labeled Burdock bottle from the collection of friend and bitters collector extraordinaire, Ferdinand Meyer at Peachridge Glass.
Ferdinand also kindly included a photo of one of the many BBB trade cards in his collection...it his understanding that Foster & Milburn were pretty prolific in putting out BBB trade cards and that there are likely dozens of different varieties!
And, finally: some more information on BBB...I mean, "what's in that stuff anyway," right?!
First, it's interesting to note that - unlike most other patent medicines - Burdock Blood Bitters does not carry the name of the proprietor as part of the brand...as it turns out "Burdock" is not the name of a person...it's the name of a plant: Burdock, or Arctium lappa.
If you've ever been through a walk in the woods or prairie, you probably had to remove some of these bothersome thistle-balls from your clothing!
Like many plants, Burdock has been used for its medicinal properties (as it turns out, all of the Burdock plant is also edible!); typical is this excerpt from an 1844 edition of the British book, Medicines: Their Uses and Mode of Administration:
Arctium Lappa, Semina, Radix, D. Common Burdock; The seeds and root of Arctium lappa.—This is an indigenous plant, growing commonly in waste places and by roadsides. It belongs to the natural family Compositae, and to the Linnaean class and order Syngenesia Aequalis...A decoction of the root is a popular diet drink in chronic cutaneous diseases and in rheumatism. It produces gentle diaphoresis, and also increases the flow of urine.
Even modern titles, such as Gregory L. Tilford's Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West (1997), states of Burdock:
The medicinal history f burdock may well predate its food use. In Chinese medicine, burdock root has been regarded as an effective "blood purifier" for thousands of years. Today, it is popular and respected among herbal practitioners of all cultures as a safe but powerful liver tonic. Empirical accounts and modern scientific research have confirmed burdock's usefulness in the treatment of water retention, rheumatoid conditions, skin disorders attributable to liver dysfunction, high blood pressure, and as a nutritive.
In classic works such as Samuel Hopkins Adams' Great American Fraud and other exposes of nostrums and quackery, Burdock Blood Bitters received little attention apart from its hefty alcohol percentage of 25%.