Chicory is known in the United States as Blue Dandelion and is commonly found growing along the roadside. In fact, the blue-purple sunray flower grows so heartily in America that many classify it as a weed. However, the properties found in its roots and leaves make chicory much more valuable than a common weed.
Drinking Chicory Tea
Chicory roots are cultivated, dried and ground into a substance that has become a popular additive to tea and coffee. In fact, centuries ago chicory was known as the "poor man's coffee," and consumed by those who could not afford the real deal.
Besides being beautiful and functional, chicory is also:
- High in protein
- Easily digested
- Rich in vitamins and nutrients
How to Make the Tea
Chicory tea became a mainstream product back in the 1970s. Today, the popular herbal tea is sold commercially on a large scale and sales are booming. One of the reasons for its popularity is the fact that chicory root tea is so easy to make. Chicory tea is prepared by steeping one-ounce of dried chicory root in a pint of boiling water for 10 minutes.
Health Benefits of Chicory Tea
Chicory tea has long been hailed as a blood purifier as it is rich in Vitamins A, C, B, K and P.
Liver and Gall Bladder
The ancient Greeks and Romans often used chicory tea as a liver stimulant. These days chicory root tea is used to treat intestinal parasites or worms and other ailments involving the liver and gall bladder such as jaundice and gout. It is also found to be beneficial to the spleen and is often prescribed to patients with gallstones.
Chicory root tea thickened with honey is often used as a safe laxative for children as it increases the flow of bile. In addition, studies have shown that chicory tea helps to eliminate phlegm from the gastro-intestinal tract and alleviates symptoms associated with an upset stomach. Meanwhile, chicory flower tea is considered a well-known appetite stimulant.
A cotton ball soaked in chicory tea can be applied directly on skin lacerations to alleviate painful swelling and irritation, and aid in the healing process. The tea has also been shown to aid in the healing of sores and boils. In addition, the sap from the chicory plant can be used to treat sunburn and poison ivy.
Studies show chicory tea aids in the body's ability to absorb calcium, a nutrient that helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth. The small intestine cannot digest two fibers found in the chicory root; rather, bacteria in the large intestine ferment the fibers. The process leads to the increased absorption of calcium and other important minerals.
Female Reproductive System
Women who suffer from severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) often find drinking chicory tea helps alleviate painful symptoms. Studies show chicory assists in maintaining hormone balance and lessens the symptoms of PMS. The tea has also been shown to discourage the growth of yeast infections.
There are no known negative side effects associated with the tea. Some believe that the overuse of chicory can lead to retinal loss and impair vision; however, there is no scientific evidence that backs this claim. The one possible minor side effect that a person may experience is skin irritation. If your hands become red and irritated after handling chicory, consider using gloves and treating the affected area as needed.
Finally, a word of caution to anyone who consumes large doses of chicory tea in a single sitting: chicory acts like a sedative on the central nervous system and could impair reaction time in some individuals. Therefore, you should think twice about having that extra cup of tea if you are planning to operate a vehicle following your beverage break.