Chicory or bitter chicory (Cichorium intybus) is a plant belonging to the family Asteraceae, very close to the dandelion. It is commonly called : grass coffee and farmers hair. It is grown for both its leaves (culinary use: in salads) and roots (coffee substitute).
Did you know that this plant has many medicinal properties? In this article, we will quote the first 6 benefits attributed to chicory, especially to its roots. We will discuss the following health problems: anemia, angina, anorexia, high cholesterol, skin cancer and constipation.
To discover other benefits of chicory, please click on the blue links at the end of this article.
Because chicory is rich in iron, its roots are often used in combination with two other vegetables to treat iron deficiency anemia due to deficiency of iron stores in the body: celery and parsley.
Also note that the chicory helps to treat Biermer anemia or pernicious anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency.
How? The vitamin B12 or cobalamin is sometimes the result of a lack of production of digestive and pancreatic juices. Thus chicory has the property of stimulating the production of such juices (sucs).
Heart disease commonly known as heartburn or angina is characterized by pain in the chest due to a lack of oxygen supply to the myocardium.
Since chicory promotes better blood circulation, some patients with angina found consuming decoction of chicory roots daily to be helpful.
This type of natural remedy, when combined with food supplements such as garlic, ginger and cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa), seems to give good results.
Important: If you suffer from angina and are taking medication, it is recommended to talk to your doctor before taking a parallel phytotherapeutic remedy.
Boil 50 g of dry roots sectioned in a liter of water for 12 minutes and drink this drink 2 or 3 times a day.
Using the leaves and roots of chicory stimulates the appetite and therefore is often recommended for people who suffer from anorexia and loss of appetite in adults as in children.
This therapeutic benefit provided to the plant come from its choleretic properties (stimulation of the production of bile).
In one liter of water, boil 30 g crushed chicory roots and drink the decoction just before meals.
The American journal « Food and Chemical Toxicology » October 2008 had published the results of a survey about the antiproliferative action of chicory on cancer cells.
Researchers have concentrated on four types of human cell, including breast, prostate, kidney and skin.
They found that chicory showed selective antiproliferative activity on melanoma.
A recent study (Journal of Nutrition, vol. 128, pgs. 1731-a6, by Drs. Meehye & Kim Hyun Shin Kyong), performed on laboratory animals showed that chicory can reduce cholesterol and blood raising HDL (high density lipoprotein in English) or good cholesterol.
Two natural substances play a cholesterol-lowering role : inulin and choline. Inulin is responsible for the cholesterol-lowering action. Inulin is a soluble fiber which helps to trap molecules of LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein in English) in the intestines. On the other hand, triglycerides do not appear to vary.
Choline contained in the chicory roots is by regulating the metabolism of cholesterol.
How? Choline emulsifies fat and cholesterol which prevents them from adhering to artery walls.
As part of Chinese medicine, chicory root is usually associated with ginger or fenugreek to lower blood cholesterol and fight against atherosclerosis.
Chicory is a mild laxative so it is very suitable to prevent constipation (infusion of 20 g of dried roots and crushed for 10 minutes).
Inulin contained in chicory roots is a non-digestible oligosaccharide prebiotic that helps improve intestinal peristalsis.
Drink it from a cup after dinner. Cook also the fresh leaves of the chicory plant in combination with other vegetables, and eat them to fight against chronic constipation.
Formerly, constipated children were given a laxative syrup prepared from chicory roots and rhubarb.
Sesquiterpene lactones contained in the plant are allergenic substances. For some people physical contact with the chicory plant causes contact dermatitis. Furthermore, the chicory may sometimes cause a rash when taken orally. Chicory can also induce asthma attacks.
Chicory interacts with certain drugs and other medicinal plants. Chicory may interact with drugs that are metabolized by the cytochrome P450 enzyme.
Two examples of drugs that are metabolized by this enzyme is metoprolol (beta-blocking) and tramadol (analgesic). The use of chicory decreases the levels of these drugs in the blood, and therefore their effectiveness. Furthermore, chicory greatly increases calcium absorption.
Chicory should not be consumed if you are pregnant or breast-feeding a baby. Chicory is also known to have abortifacient effects. This means that taking chicory during pregnancy can induce a miscarriage.
Author : Alexis ROGER