The Time of Roots

Deep winter, or what passes for it these days, is the time of roots. After flowering and setting seed, plants withdraw a lot of their energy into their roots. What is above ground either dies back completely, or becomes a lot less active, until increasing light and warmth trigger new activity. So if the root is the part you’re most interested in, now is the time to collect it.
You can’t dig up wild plants unless they are really common, so use discretion. Roots in general have a nourishing, supportive quality, and they often feature in the ‘tonic’ remedies of traditional Chinese medicine. In the west, the roots of dandelion, yellow dock, burdock and elecampane have been used for centuries to help restore health and counteract winter sluggishness. Quite literally: dandelion stimulates liver function, yellow dock is a gentle laxative, burdock helps clear skin problems, and elecampane is used for bronchitis and chest complaints. Wash them well and chop them up before drying. If you want to make tea from them, you will need to decoct, or boil the roots in water, for a few minutes, to get the best effects; but they can also be ground and put in capsules or added directly to food.


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