One of my favourite herbal drinks at this time of year - rich, earthy roasted Chicory root coffee. The bitter and sweet flavours are brought out by the slow roasting process, making a great full bodied drink to kick start your digestion in the mornings. Autumn is the perfect time to harvest our root herbs, and this common edible weed offers us an abundance of support to help us maintain our well being at this changing time of the year. Like other bitter herbs, Chicory stimulates the cleansing action of our liver, improving our ability to process toxins effectively. High in antioxidants, Chicory has also been shown to reduce inflammation and protect our liver from chemical and free radical damage. These important qualities offer us valuable support in preventing and treating the many chronic health conditions that inflammation and toxicity can underlie. Chicory root is also the highest source of inulin of any food or herb. Sweet tasting inulin is a prebiotic that feeds our good gut bacteria, again boosting our first line of immune defense, and is a type of soluble fibre that supports gut health, lowers high cholesterol levels and improves diabetes. Finally, Chicory has also been shown to have anti bacterial, anti fungal and anti viral effects - all helping our immune system to deal with pathogens. All of this from a common garden weed!
We will be harvesting and preparing roasted root coffee with another wonderful healing weed at our upcoming Autumn Herbal Medicine Making Workshop - the wonderful Dandelion! We have been growing a garden bed full of Dandelions in nice loose soil for easy harvesting for two years. I look forward to sharing this delicious herbal beverage and all it's wonderful healing properties with you at the workshop.
What if you had a plant in your backyard with high levels of antioxidants, combined with powerful anti-microbial properties? What if it could also be a tasty addition to your meals or tea collection? This potent herbal remedy is the well-known culinary herb Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis.
Warming and drying, Rosemary clears up the damp, congestive conditions that can accumulate over winter and in which pathogens thrive. Rosemary has a special ability to decongest the head, and is a quick acting remedy for clearing the sinuses during a cold or sinus infection. Coupled with this, its anti-microbial properties make it a great choice for both preventing and treating colds and flu’s (1).
Rosemary’s stimulating effects greatly enhances mental function and concentration during fatigue. Drinking a cup of Rosemary tea while studying or working is a great way to enhance performance while maintaining a calm, clear state of mind. While doing so, it gives you none of the side effects of stimulating drinks, such as of coffee, and is a great alternative to this where you need to remain focused (3).
Rosemary contains high levels of the powerful anti-oxidants rosmarinic acid and carnosol, which act to protect cells against toxin damage and to regenerate tissues.1 This has seen Rosemary used for many diseases including liver disease, diabetes and cancer (2). I have been drawn to work with Rosemary to support cleansing as we move towards springtime. Rosemary has a strong effect on the liver, making it a great spring detoxification remedy. Its anti-oxidant actions are also useful to protect against potential damage that can occur while the body is detoxifying. With so many amazing properties, this herb is a must have in your garden medicinal cabinet!
A therapeutic way to capture Rosemary’s active constituents is to prepare it as a hot infusion – aka, a cup of tea! Place a 15cm sprig of fresh or one heaped tablespoon of dried Rosemary into a teapot or Agee jar. Cover with 1 cup of boiling water and place a lid on top to prevent the loss of important volatile oils as the tea infuses. Brew for 15mins, strain and enjoy. Drink it on its own, or sweeten with honey.
Please note that Rosemary is contraindicated for those with high blood pressure.
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