The Dirt on Roots
Early spring is a great time to learn about roots. This is time of year when our bodies are transitioning from winter to spring. In winter our diets often include more fats, starches, sweets and alcohol prevalent at our holiday meals. As the days grow longer we begin to get more active, our blood starts to flow and our livers and digestive systems wake up. Roots are a great way to help our bodies deal with the excesses of winter and strengthen our systems to support the cleansing time that spring will bring!
Oregon grape (Mahonia spp.), Dandelion (Taraxacum offinalias), Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus) and Burdock (Arctium lappa) are four healing roots you may have walked by a thousand times without knowing it! They grow abundantly on the west coast and are often seen as weeds. With a little prior knowledge they are easily and best harvested between late October and early March when the energy of the plants is still below the ground. Once dug up use a stiff brush to clean away the soil and cut up to dry or make into further medicine. To make a tea, use about a tea spoon of finely chopped dried root per cup of water and let simmer at least 10 minutes.
These roots all share a bitter quality that activates the liver, thus helping the liver break down fats, toxins and process hormones. They aid in relieving constipation and cleanse the blood thus encouraging healthy skin.
Each root has many of its own specialties as well. Some of these are:
Oregon Grape aids in combating bacterial infections internally, when you start feeling some sickness coming on, or externally for things like staph infections.
Dandelion root is helpful for the liver to process toxins, whether from alcohol or drug use, exposure to pollutants or in reaction to allergies. The root and the leaves are reliable diuretics and help reduce inflammation in the kidneys.
Yellow Dock is often used for constipation that results from dietary imbalances.
Burdock, or Yellow Dock used with Red Clover is an old remedy used to help skin eruptions and as a blood cleanser. Great for helping clear up teen age acne, zits related to PMS, eczema or psoriasis. Burdock is also a gentle adaptogen, helping the body to regulate and deal with stress.
Getting to know some local roots can be great for your health! Take a walk, get your blood moving and smell the first signs of spring on the air. Then go home and drink your bitter tea.