Chicory Herb

Other Names of Chicory: Blue sailors, ragged sailors, succory, wild succory, coffeeweed, cornflower, endive, radicchio, Belgian endive, French endive, red endive, sugarloaf or witloof, blue dandelion, garden endive, hendibeh, barbe de capucin, bunk, wegewarte, ctchorium

Useful Parts of the Plant: Leaves, roots, flowers, chicory sprouts

Chicory is a woody, perennial herb that is found across the American continent and is also popular in the countries of Europe, and Asia. The chicory herb was often used as a substitute for coffee. Roasted and ground chicory is still added to coffee powder, and it is also still preferred as a beverage. This is because the herb is known to have reduced caffeine content. The small, tender leaves of this herb are used in salads as they are known to get bitter as they mature. Chicory is also used as an additive to enhance flavor in many foods.

Nutritional Information and Properties of Chicory Herb

Chicory is believed to cleanse blood and detoxify the liver. Hence, it was consumed in large quantities by the Native Americans. Chicory stimulates the nervous system and improves concentration, albeit it can also be used to combat problems related to sleep. Additionally, the presence of chicorine and choline in chicory account for its bowel cleansing properties. Inulin, tannin, chicoric acid, starch, minerals, and vitamins B, C and K are also found in this herb. The tannin in chicory acts as an astringent and detoxifier. Chicory is also a good source of beta carotene. It also possesses disinfectant and light antibiotic properties. Owing to the health benefits of chicory, it is often preferred over coffee.

Health Benefits

Chicory uses are diverse, ranging from its use in salad or as a coffee substitute to detoxifying the body and serving as an anthelmintic. It is also used to treat digestive distress, gall bladder disorders, intestinal worms, and hemorrhoids. Some of the popular uses and benefits of chicory are as follows.

  • Chicory helps to regulate the body's metabolism. Apart from being used in the treatment of digestive ailments and gall bladder disorders, it can also be used to fight depression and fatigue.
  • Chicory is also known to be helpful in the management of rheumatism.
  • Chicory tea benefits include its use in the treatment of jaundice. It is also useful to correct any related disorders of the liver.
  • Chicory extract is believed to have a detoxifying as well as decongestant effect. This can be prepared by boiling the leaves and roots in water till the essence mixes with the water. You can drink this mixture hot to avail of the chicory benefits.
  • Lactucin, a bitter component found in chicory, is believed to be responsible for its sedative effect. It can also be used to nullify the effects of caffeine. This is perhaps why it widely preferred over coffee.
  • In moderate quantities, chicory also enhances urine output.
  • As mentioned earlier, chicory is a good source of vitamin A, and hence, it is considered to be good for the eyes.
  • With celery and parsley, chicory is believed to be a good tonic for anemia.
  • Chicory leaf is also considered to be effective for skin irritations. The young leaves are blanched and used in salads, while the mature leaves are boiled and used as a decoction.
  • Chicory is also a mild laxative. It helps in increasing the production of bile and is also believed to counter edema.

Other Uses

  • The anti-parasitic properties of chicory account for it being consumed by cattle as fodder.

Precautions/ Side Effects/ Warnings

Chicory can induce contact dermatitis as a side effect. If consumed orally, it can lead to skin rashes and irritation. Chicory side effects also include its interruption in the role of beta blocker drugs for the heart. It is also best avoided during pregnancy as it can stimulate menstruation. Chicory is also considered to react with bacteria or other organisms during its cultivation, thus resulting in toxicities in people who have used it when it is mature. The intake of chicory should never exceed the recommended daily allowance. It is best to consult a doctor before using this herb for any treatment or therapeutic purposes.