Healing Properties of Chicory
Chicory is a hardy perennial that was brought to North America from Europe in the 1700s, and is now well-established across the continent. Though chicory has a variety of uses, it is best known for its association with coffee.
At many points through history, coffee has become unavailable or too costly. During these times, people have often turned to roasted chicory as a substitute. Folks also used to make coffee from roasted acorns, dandelion roots, yams and a variety of local grains.
And this was also valued in bartering for other goods and during the war of northern aggression it was often used to bribe Yankee Troops who were camping in the south and no coffee was available to them because their supply wagons couldn’t get through, or it was reserved for the officers. When World War II disrupted shipping, most U.S. “coffee” was produced from chicory. Since it is Caffeine-free, it is regaining popularity.
The root of the chicory plant is long and thick, like the tap-root of the dandelion. When dried, roasted and ground, it makes an excellent substitute for coffee. There is no caffeine in chicory, and it produces a more ‘roasted’ flavor than coffee does. Many coffee producers offer blends with up to 30% chicory, which cuts down on the caffeine content of your cup. But many folk enjoy a cup of ‘coffee’ made entirely from ground, roasted chicory.
Another perk about chicory is that it’s more soluble in water than coffee, which means you use a lot less of it when brewing. Very economical for someone on a tight budget.
Chicory also offers extra health benefits that you wouldn’t normally get from your cup of coffee. It is reported to help cleanse the blood and improve the health of your liver. Drinking chicory regularly in order to stop drinking coffee, or mixed with carob root for a mocha substitute, would be lots easier on one’s health than drinking real coffee. Many individuals suffering from acid reflux & stomach acid could be well practically overnight if they could give up coffee. In that context chicory can be a secondary cause of improved health.
The young leaves can be used in salads, and the root can also be boiled and eaten like a vegetable (it’s related to endive and radicchio). It’s also grown for cattle food in Europe. The flowers are blue-purple, and will open and close at precisely the same time every day.
When roasted, it yields 45 to 65 per cent of soluble extractive matter. Roasted Coffee yields only 21 to 25 per cent of soluble extract, this difference affording a means of approximately determining the amount of Chicory in a mixture.
Chicory is a hardy perennial and will grow in almost any soil. For use as a salad, the plant may be easily cultivated in the kitchen garden. Sow the seed in May or June, in holes about 1 inch deep, about 12 inches apart, and thin out the young plants to 6 or 8 inches apart in the rows; water in very dry weather.
Healing Power and Curative Properties
Chicory is a tonic herb when taken in moderate quantities. It increases the secretion and discharge of urine. It is also a stimulant and a mild laxative. This herb helps the functions of the liver and gall bladder.
Chicory contains food dements which are constantly needed by the optic system. It is one of the richest sources of vitamin A which is very useful for the eyes. The addition of juices of carrot, celery and parsley to chicory juice makes it a highly nourishing food for the optic nerve and the muscular system. It can bring amazing results in correcting eye defects. Half a liter to one liter daily of this combination has frequently corrected eye troubles within a few months, to the extent that normal vision was regained, making the use of glasses unnecessary.
The herb is a natural laxative. It is, therefore, beneficial in the treatment of chronic constipation.
The herb, in combination with celery and parsley, is very helpful in anemia. It is an effective blood tonic.
Liver and Gall Bladder Dysfunctions
Chicory flowers, seeds and roots are medicinally used in the treatment of liver disorders. About 30 to 60 ml of decoction of he flowers, seeds or roots can be used three times daily, with beneficial results, in the treatment of torpidity or sluggishness of the liver, biliary stasis or, stoppage of bile, jaundice and enlargement of the spleen. Endive or chicory juice, in almost any combination, promotes the secretion of bile and is, therefore, very good for both liver and gall bladder dysfunctions.
The combined juices of chicory, carrot and celery are most helpful in asthma and hay fever, provided milk and foods containing concentrated starches and sugars such as white rice, white flours, macaroni, sweets, pastries and cakes are eliminated from the diet. Powder of the dry root in doses of half a teaspoon, mixed with honey if taken thrice daily, is a good expectorant in chronic bronchitis.
A decoction of chicory seeds is useful in treating obstructed menstruation.
The young leaves, preferably blanched, are eaten in salads. They may be mixed with other greens to minimize their strong flavor. The mature green leaves are sometimes used as a cooked vegetable.
The fresh root is bitter, with a milky juice which is somewhat aperient and slightly sedative.
Chicory Syrup is an excellent laxative even for children, as it acts without irritation.
An infusion of the herb is useful for skin eruptions connected with gout.
The old herbalists considered that the leaves when bruised made a good poultice for swellings, inflammations and inflamed eyes.
From the flowers an infused tea was made to combat inflammation of the eyes.
The seeds abundantly contain a demulcent oil, while the petals furnish a glucoside which is colorless unless treated with alkalies, when it becomes of a golden yellow. The leaves have been used to create a blue dye.
Whole natural chicory root is a proven pre-biotic which promotes healthy digestion. When added to dog food, it serves as the “food” that the beneficial bacteria which are present in your dog’s intestinal tract need to flourish and help keep your dog healthy. Research indicates that the benefits of feeding a dog food containing chicory root may include increased nutrient absorption, aid digestion, and support of the immune system. Chicory root, a natural fiber source from the plant which has been used in human foods as a salad ingredient and is known to also aid digestion in humans, is a safe and palatable ingredient for dogs. This particular pre-biotic fiber source is harvested, washed, sliced, then added to the food. There are no added ingredients to the chicory or extensive processing – unlike other synthetic pre-biotic’s.
How to make Chicory Syrup
Place the full ounce of dried herb into the quart jar and fill it to the top with boiling water. Cap tightly. After 4-10 hours, decant your infusion, saving the liquid and squeezing the herb to get the last of the goodness out of it.
Measure the amount of liquid you have (usually about 3½ cups). Pour this into the saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat until the infusion is just barely simmering. Continue to simmer until the liquid is reduced by half (pour it out of the pan and into the measuring cup now and then to check). This step can take several hours; the decoction is not spoiled if it is reduced to less than half, but it is ruined if it boils hard or if it burns. Keep a close eye on it.
When you have reduced the infusion to less then two cups, add the sugar or honey and bring to a rolling boil. Pour, boiling hot, into your jar. (Sterilize the jar by boiling it in plain water for a few minutes just before filling it.) If desired, add some vodka to preserve the syrup.
Allow the bottle of syrup to come to room temperature. Label it. Store it in the refrigerator or keep it in a cool place.