Sky-blue chicory flowers are full of summer along the roads and in wastelands, they can be seen in meadows and forest edges, along the edge of the fields and at the boundary. Four species of this perennial herb are common in Russia, and in all there are up to twelve of them. Its root contains many healing substances that have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, and nervous systems. The plant is a panacea for the elderly, as it lowers sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.
Common chicory has been cultivated in Russia since the 18th century. It is cultivated in many European countries, devoting hectares of fields for the plant. They are used as raw materials for diet products, the production of sweets and cakes, the production of coffee, tea and coffee drinks to give products a special aroma, taste and color. What medicinal properties does this wonderful root have, how to prepare healing broths from it, how does chicory affect pressure and other indicators of the body?
Old headache potion
The healing qualities of chicory are written in ancient medical treatises. Thanks to the bitter substances contained in it, the plant has long been used as a means to normalize digestion. The ancient Roman healer and surgeon Galen treated them for the liver, Pliny in his Natural History described the plant as a panacea for a diseased intestine. And both mentioned how the decoction of the root relieves headaches, not knowing that this was a consequence of the normalization of blood pressure. Until recently, the plant was not associated with its effect on blood pressure, and no substances capable of causing such a reaction were found in the chemical composition. But acting as a diuretic and a sedative for the nervous system, increasing the amplitude and slowing down the rhythm of the heart, chicory and pressure leads to normal values. In addition, its composition contains vasodilating and strengthening substance vessel walls.
Chicory with high blood pressure
People often have a question regarding blood pressure: does chicory raise or lower it? In the encyclopedias and reference books of medicinal plants there is no data for that. However, its diuretic, that is, diuretic property is everywhere noted. Already a vole, doctors will prescribe hypertensive diuretics as a means of lowering blood pressure. When excess fluid and salts are eliminated through the kidneys, blood pressure in the vessels decreases. Today it is one of the most effective methods.
Excess fluid increases not only blood pressure, but also the load on the heart. Diuretics are also prescribed for heart failure, which is dangerous for hypertensive heart attack. Chicory as a diuretic acts gently and gradually, with no side effects. In addition, chicory produces drinks that replace coffee, which is contraindicated in hypertensive patients. It does not have the tonic properties of caffeine, but it brings much more benefits.
Chicory at low blood pressure
But how do the preparations of this plant affect people with low blood pressure? Chicory and its various dosage forms do not have such a strong and pronounced effect as, for example, the fruits of hawthorn, cranberries or viburnum, which contain chemical elements that contribute to a fairly rapid decrease in pressure. As a diuretic, chicory root does not have a negative effect on people with low blood pressure.
In this case, the recommendation of a remedy for high blood pressure does not mean its contraindications for low blood pressure. Moreover, in the encyclopedic reference books of medicinal plants edited by such specialists as Academician A. M. Grodzinsky, N. I. Maznev, or Professor and Academician G. A. Nepokaitsitsky, as well as in “Travnik” by Academician B. Bolotov, like no contraindications are given. Therefore, chicory can be drunk both at high pressure and at low.
Chicory in heart failure
Inflorescences of the plant contain coumarin glycoside chicoryin ("Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants" by A. M. Grodzinsky), which belongs to the group of cardiac glycosides of plant origin. These compounds act in heart failure, normalizing heart sounds and rhythm. This leads to an increase in myocardial activity and a uniform contraction of the heart muscle, which ensures more efficient and economical work of the heart.
Dietary fiber inulin has also been found in the leaves and root of the plant. This polysaccharide in the raw root contains up to 23%, in the dried root - up to 68%. Inulin not only promotes better digestion, it also increases the tone of the walls of blood vessels, slows down the rhythm, increasing the amplitude of heart contractions. This property of chicory at high pressure and especially low, has a beneficial effect on the state of the organism as a whole. How does this affect well-being? Headaches, dizziness, throbbing in the temples, darkening before the eyes gradually pass. In addition, the infusion of inflorescences has a calming effect on the central nervous system, which contributes to a quiet sleep, and this is especially important for hypertensive patients.
Chicory for the elderly
Can chicory be harmful to health after 50 years? Yes, if you use it without measure. But for people of advanced years, all dosage forms of this plant will be much more effective than for a young organism. The use of chicory lowers the amount of sugar in the urine. The hypoglycemic effect of the plant is affected, which reduces the level of glucose in the blood, therefore it is recommended for mild forms of diabetes.
Other properties speak of the benefits of this plant for the elderly. In the "Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants" N. I. Mazneva says that chicory accept:
- with inflammation of the gastric mucosa;
- with diseases of the colon and small intestine, gall bladder, liver and kidneys;
- with urolithiasis and gallstone diseases;
- from edema of cardiac origin;
- as a general strengthening agent.
Academician A.M. Grodzinsky recommends a decoction of chicory herb for cholecystitis, since it stimulates the separation of bile, and the root is useful for gastritis, colitis, enteritis. Physiological changes occur with age, due to which the secretion of saliva and cells of the digestive glands decreases, the secretion of bile and hydrochloric acid is disrupted, the secretory function and motility of the stomach decrease, and the intestinal microflora changes. As a result, the absorption of fats, proteins, carbohydrates is disturbed. Given these and other features of old age, the chemical composition of chicory will be especially useful for stimulating and improving the digestive system of people after 50 years. Moreover, chicory and pressure normalizes and activates metabolic processes, and favors the work of the heart.
The effect of chicory on the immune system and intestinal microflora
The root of the plant has another valuable property. Inulin, which is so rich in chicory, acts as a prebiotic, that is, it stimulates the vital activity and growth of microflora (lacto- and bifidobacteria) in the large intestine. These lactic acid microorganisms are necessary:
- for the normal functioning of the digestive system and the absorption of nutrients;
- they take part in the synthesis of vitamins PP, group B, K;
- suppress putrefactive and potentially dangerous bacteria;
- contribute to the functioning of the immune system.
The stomach and upper intestines do not process and do not absorb inulin, therefore, getting into the large intestine, it undergoes fermentation by microflora and becomes a favorable environment for its life and growth. This is the most important factor for people who are elderly or weakened by a long illness, after taking a course of antibiotics. In these cases, the content of lactic acid bacteria decreases and microorganisms of the putrefactive group develop that secrete endotoxins. As a result, not only digestion suffers, but immunity also decreases, which over time leads to serious disorders and diseases.
Natural chopped chicory
Now on sale you can find many options for chicory products for making drinks. This is a crushed and fried root, often in combination with barley and (or) oat root. Such a product will be useful for the digestive system, the work of the heart, it is recommended as a choleretic and diuretic, and therefore lowering pressure. Sometimes in such dry mixtures ground coffee beans are present. These drinks are aromatic and tasteful.
Soluble and Condensed Chicory
Another form of release is a soluble product, which is a powder or granules of a dried aqueous extract obtained from fried plant roots. Freeze dried chicory - a finely crushed solid mass obtained from a frozen and dehydrated root extract. Condensed chicory is a thick, dark brown color, a fragrant mass of partially dehydrated root extract, easily soluble in hot water. Nowhere could we find reliable data on the dangers and contraindications of soluble chicory. He retains healing properties in many ways, although their effect is much weaker. In addition, such drinks are less pleasant than decoctions of fried crushed roots.
Preparation and use of root decoctions
Chicory, minced and roasted, was brewed and drank instead of natural coffee when it was not possible to buy it. This happened during the years of war, crisis or global deficit, both in our country and in Western countries. And to lower blood pressure, kvass was made from chicory at home. Chicory and now remains a fairly popular drink that does not require a special norm, but which should not be abused, as well as tea and coffee. However, in the "herbalists" indicated dosages for the preparation and use of drugs, which are given here.
A decoction of dry or fried chicory root at high pressure, mild forms of diabetes mellitus, to normalize digestion, as a choleretic and diuretic according to N. I. Maznev:
Brew a tablespoon of crushed raw materials with one glass of boiling water, warm over low heat for 20 minutes, strain. Drink one tbsp. l 5-6 times a day or without dosage, like tea.
A recipe for the same purpose by A. M. Grodzinsky:
One tablespoon of the roots pour 0.5 liters of boiling water and simmer for 10 minutes over low heat, take half a cup four times a day before meals.
Decoctions of leaves and inflorescences
As a choleretic, a decoction of chicory herb is recommended, which is also useful in renal diseases. Infusion of inflorescences increases the amplitude and slows down the rhythms of the heart, has a calming effect on the nervous system. N. I. Maznev offers the following recipe:
Pour 40 g of grass or inflorescences with one liter of boiling water, insist in heat for three hours, strain. Drink 0.5 cup three times a day.
If you use the whole plant instead of inflorescences, the broth perfectly removes excess bile with jaundice, it is used for cirrhosis of the liver, to cleanse the spleen, clogged stomach, pain in the gastrointestinal tract.
Harvesting raw materials
Chicory can be prepared independently. The tops of stems about 30 cm long are cut off during flowering. The raw materials are dried by spreading a thin layer outdoors in the shade or in a well-ventilated room, or in a dryer at a temperature not exceeding 40 degrees.
The roots are dug in the fall, cleaned from the ground, washed with cold water, stems are removed. The roots are cut lengthwise and crosswise, dried in the open air or in a dryer at a temperature not exceeding 50 degrees. Raw materials are well stored in dry, cool, ventilated areas.
In addition to healing broths and coffee substitute, chicory kvass is made at home. Almost all common options come down to the same ingredients: water, soluble chicory, fresh or dry yeast, sugar, citric acid, or lemon juice. However, a truly tasty, healthy and invigorating drink is prepared on the basis of kvass from rye bread. The only recipe worth adding to your favorite recipe is soluble chicory. It is added on the basis of calculation: two tablespoons of powder or one condensed chicory per five liters of warm boiled water. All other elements and the cooking sequence correspond to your favorite recipe for bread kvass.
What can be cooked from chicory? In food, the plant is used as an ordinary root crop, and its young leaves are a piquant and very successful addition to oil, cheeses, sauces, salads, meat, omelettes, side dishes. For this purpose, various varieties of lettuce or leaf plants are cultivated in a number of countries. There is a variety with red leaves, young shoots of asparagus chicory really resemble this plant, and there are also varieties of sugar, bitter, green. But in some regions of the Mediterranean they prefer wild chicory precisely because there is more bitterness in it than in salad. If the leaves of the plant are kept in a weak salt solution for about 20 minutes, this will significantly reduce the bitter taste.
The root can be added raw to ready-made dishes, it is also fried, after which it becomes sweetish, stewed with other vegetables and meat. It remains only not only to enjoy wonderful taste sensations, but also to receive great benefits from food.