Every holiday season in Jamaica, a certain type of drink makes an appearance. The main ingredient comes from the sorrel plant. Sorrel is a perennial herb that also goes by the names Narrow-leaved Dock or Spinach Dock. Sorrel tea can be consumed either hot or cold. Sorrel is also used as a dried herb in meals. The taste is a bit sour, and it’s customary to add flavorings to it, such as ginger or cinnamon to sweeten it. In addition to being a great drink for the holidays, the health benefits of sorrel are many. Sorrel is not at all common in America, but it’s popularity is sure to grow, the more people learn about it’s benefits. Sorrel is most prominent in France, Greece, Egypt, Rome, and the Caribbean.
The sorrel plant contains nutraceleuticals, which are said to be helpful to people’s health. Nutraceleuticals can help prevent and treat several diseases including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer. A group of compounds known as flavonoids are present in red sorrel, which are known to be anti-oxidants. The flavonoids are also what makes is a good deterrent against specific types of cancer. The immune system is also enhanced due to the flavonoids. Sorrel contains high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
The anti-oxidant properties in the sorrel plant can help fight the signs of aging. It can help protect against free radical damage that can leave the skin looking aged and wrinkled. Free radicals also have a hand in causing stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, along with many other problems.
When used as a dried herb, the leaves of the sorrel plant can be used to treat itchy skin, fever, scurvy, and ringworm. Sorrel can be cut thinly and sprinkled over soups and salads to help relieve these ailments. Even if you don’t suffer from these issues, sorrel makes a great addition to a meal. Sorrel can be incorporated into meals as a sauce, that can go over fish or chicken dishes.
When taken in the form of a tea, this herb is helpful in treating jaundice and kidney stones. The liquid that comes out of the leaves can be used to help certain rashes. When the leaves are consumed dry and fresh, it acts as a diuretic and can clear out the body’s system. As a result of this “cleansing” the prostate benefits and can work more efficiently. Sorrel has also been used to treat hemorrhages when combined with the seeds and roots of the plant.
As stated earlier, Jamaicans drink sorrel tea during the holiday season. They combine six ounces of dried sorrel with two tablespoons of dried ginger, and an eighth of a teaspoon of ground allspice. When you mix these ingredients into hot water, it makes a warm and inviting tea. If it’s too bitter for your taste, it’s OK to add sugar to make it a little sweeter. For best results, boil the water for about 10 minutes with the ingredients in the water. It’s best to use a tea strainer when you pour it into a cup, to avoid getting leaves and other residue in your drink. You can either drink it hot right away, or put it in the refrigerator for later. If you pour it over ice, it creates a great iced tea beverage.
Sorrel is much more that a holiday beverage. There are quite a few health benefits of sorrel. Because sorrel is a natural laxative, only a small amount should be used at any one time. It could cause the stomach to react badly. However, medical studies have been performed, showing that this herb can help improve a person’s quality of life and help to maintain the health and function of the whole body.
Photo by Eatwell.in