For those who aren’t aware, Chicory can actually be used as a coffee substitute because of its decadent creamy flavor that can be used for margarine, dressings and even ice cream. Aside from its delightful flavor, the chicory herb can actually be delightful for your health as well.
Botanical Name and Family of Chicory
Chicory is known botanically as Cichorium intybus. It belongs to the Asteraceae or Daisy family and has been referred to as common chicory, blue daisy, blue sailors, blueweed, coffeeweed and blue dandelion.
What Is Chicory?
Chicory is a woody herb with blue flowers that give it the common name of blue daisy. Different varieties of chicory are cultivated for specific uses in salads, as a coffee additive or substitute as a livestock crop.
It has been very popular in France ever since the 19th century where it is commonly roasted and ground. It has made its way to America during the Civil War when Loisianauas decided to add chicory root to their coffee because the Union naval blockades cut off shipments to the port during that time.
It was also popular during the Great Depression and even used in prisons during that time to help stretch out the coffee supply.
In addition to being used as a coffee, the chicory roots and the aerial parts are used for their medicinal properties to help treat joint pain, gout, jaundice, liver enlargement and rheumatism.
Active Ingredients Found in Chicory
Chicory contains the following active ingredients
- Chicoric acid
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
- Essential oils
Chicory also contains two major bitter principles in the form of sesquiterpene lactones called Lactucin and Lactucopicrin.
Health Benefits of Chicory
Chicory has been used in traditional medicine for digestive problems such as stomach upset, loss of appetite, constipation and worm infestation. It has also been used to deal with gallbladder and liver disorders.
Aside from the mentioned benefits, chicory is also used for the following:
- Colon cancer
- Gas and bloating
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Liver health
A paste made from chicory leaves may be applied to the skin for inflammation. Studies have found that chicory may have an anti-inflammatory and protective action against hepatotoxicity.
How to Use Chicory
Chicory leaves are used like celery; the roots may be consumed after boiling. The powder obtained from ground chicory seeds may be mixed with coffee, ice cream and protein shakes to add a bit of a more rich flavor.
Side Effects of Chicory
Even though chicory is safe for general use when consumed in the quantities normally found in food, it can also cause side effects if it is consumed improperly. Consuming chicory in large amounts is not recommended during pregnancy because it may cause a miscarriage. Chicory is known to stimulate bile synthesis and must not be used by people suffering from gallstones.
Persons with allergies to daisies, chrysanthemums, marigolds and other plants of the Compositae/Asteraceae family may experience an allergic reaction to chicory and, therefore, must avoid it. It is important to speak to your doctor to make sure any herbal remedy you choose to take will be beneficial for you.
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Street RA, Sidana J, Prinsloo G. Cichorium intybus: Traditional Uses, Phytochemistry, Pharmacology, and Toxicology. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 2013: 579319.doi: 10.1155/2013/579319. PMCID: PMC3860133
Jamshidzadeh A, Khoshnood MJ, Dehghani Z. Niknahad H. Hepatoprotective Activity of Cichorium intybus L. Leaves Extract Against Carbon Tetrachloride Induced Toxicity. Iranian Jour of Pharm Res. 2006; 6(5): 41-46