Hickory Chicory Dock
Posted by Kate W on Wednesday, July 4th, 2012
I am not shy about proclaiming my love for coffee. I’ve always needed caffeine to thrive, and that’s never been truer than now. I have a baby who’s up twice a night like clockwork, and mom needs a little pick-me-up to get her day started. One of my favorite blends from New Orleans has an unusual flavor. After looking through the ingredient list, I attributed the mysterious taste to the addition of chicory which I discovered is used to enhance the richness of coffee. There is actually a historical basis for this. During the French Civil War, coffee was scarce. Soldiers and civilians alike began trying to stretch out their beans to last as long as possible, and they discovered that chicory added body and flavor. The Nova Scotian Acadian population eventually brought this tradition (along with many others) to Louisiana.
Chicory root is one of those herbs that has been used medicinally since historical times. Both ancient Romans and ancient Egyptians ingested chicory in order to purify their blood; the Egyptians also believed chicory would help in cleansing the liver. They weren’t off-base. Chicory is still used today for preventing jaundice and reducing the size of an enlarged liver. Because of its cleansing properties chicory can help prevent both gallstones and liver stones.
Chicory has many other benefits as well. It contains vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant that is integral in boosting the immune system. It is also excellent for helping with digestive issues. It soothes upset stomachs and can help with constipation issues and increasing low appetites. It can even help reduce cholesterol levels and promote optimal blood sugar levels. Some people have also been known to make a chicory paste and spread it on their skin as a natural way to reduce inflammation and swelling, but be wary if you have known skin sensitivities or allergies; allowing chicory root to come in contact with the skin may result in skin itching and irritation.
I don’t think they’ll start making chicory Frappucinos at Starbucks anytime soon, but for those days when I need that caffeine boost before I can even get in my car, my chicory blend will do the trick nicely. And the next time my husband tries to tell me I drink too much coffee, I can tell him it’s strictly medicinal.
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