Chicory (Cichorium intybus) - Uses and Health Benefits

Chicory, Cichorium intybus

Introduction

According to history, chicory was grown in the Egypt as a medicinal plant and it has both therapeutic and indigenous properties. The ancient Egyptians people used large amounts of chicory because they believed that the plant purifies blood as well as liver, while others have used the herb for its power to cure known as "passions of the heart." The juice is used as remedy for uterus cancer and for tumors. In South Africa, the widespread roots, and stems are used to make tea for jaundice and chicory syrup is used in infants as a tonic and purifying medicine. In Turkey, a leaf ointment is used for wound healing. In the Europe the traditional use of chicory roots for the relief of symptoms related to mild digestive disorders such as feeling of abdominal fullness, slow digestion, flatulence and temporary loss of appetite. the aqueous root extracts as a light-sensitive plant remedy for malaria in Afghanistan. The flowers of the chicory plant are used in gallstones, gastroenteritis, sinus problems, cuts, and bruises. It is also used for decorative purpose. Chicory seeds are the main ingredients of Liver Detox Formula, Jigrine and Liv52, so in India it is used for various diseases of the liver. Chicory continues to be a popular known herbal remedy due to its healing effects on several ailments of skin and other body parts. It has a chocolate-like flavor with no caffeine. It is used as substitute for coffee. Chicory root added to coffee counter the effects of caffeine and helps digestion.

Description of the Plant

The Chicory plant is found in the temperate parts of the World and is cultivated in many countries. It is a perennial herb, it is erect woody around 1 m in height with a taproot of up to 75 cm in length which is fleshy in nature, and has a large basal leaves and smaller upper leaves. It can be found in high temperature zone during both vegetative and reproductive growth stage. It has azure blue flowers. Its roots resemble to dandelion plant. Its root stump are dug before the flowering.

The most commonly used part of plant is tap roots. The root is fleshy and tapering, wrinkled, and longitudinally, and from outside it is brown in color. The root has bitter and mucilaginous taste.

Botanical Description

Roots are, tapering, fleshy, stem 1-3 long grooved and angled, branches are rigid and spreading, leaf nerves, beneath, hispid leaves oblong lanceolata, upper cordate amp lexical. The diameter of head is 1-1/2", peduncles thickened in the middle, involucre bracts herbaceous, and ligules bright blue, rarely white or pink.

The dried fruit and seed is yellowish brown in colour, and its length is 1-3 mm and breadth is 1-2 mm, and 1mm in thickness. It is triangle in shape and has characteristic odor.

Scientific Classification

  • Latin name - Cichorium intybus L. var. foliosum Hegi
  • Family - Asteraceae ⁄ Compositae - Aster family
  • Kingdom - Plantae - Plants
  • Subkingdom - Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
  • Division - Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
  • Class - Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
  • Order - Asterales
  • Genus - Cichorium L. - Chicory
  • Species - Cichorium intybus L. - Chicory
  • Cichorium intybus L. var. sativum (Bisch.) Janch.

Habitat

The plant is found in the temperate parts of the World and is found in wild regions of Andhra Pradesh and Punjab regions. It is also cultivated in Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa and Kerala.

The major producing countries of chicory are the United Kingdom, France Belgium, Switzerland, Europe, Netherlands, Germany, and South Africa. In India, Punjab, it occurs in North-west India, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

In India, its seeds are sown in March - April in hills and October-November in plains.

Synonyms

  • Ayurvedic - Kasni, Hinduba, Kasni
  • English - Chicory, Indian Endive
  • Indian local name - Banya Kaasnee
  • Trade name - Chickory
  • Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati - Kashi, Kaasni, Kssni, Hinduba
  • Unani - Kaasani Dashti (Barri)
  • Siddha - Kasinikkeerai
  • Punjabi - Gul, hand, kasni, suchal
  • Tamil - Kasinivirai, Kashni
  • Telugu - Cicori, Kasini, Vittulu
  • Urdu - Kasani

Ayurvedic Properties

  • Rasa (taste on tongue) - Tikta (Bitter)
  • Guna (Pharmacological Action) - Laghu (Light), Ruksha (Dry)
  • Virya - sheet (Cooling)
  • Vipaka (transformed state after digestion) - Katu (Pungent)

Actions

  • It Pacifies Pitta and Kapha doshas
  • Gives relief in pain, burning sensation and swelling in digestion.
  • Has Sedative action
  • Deepana दीपन (promote appetite but do not aid in digesting undigested food)
  • Good for heart and heart disorder
  • Diuretic

Composition

Chicory herb contains inulin in the root, coumarins (chicoriin, esculetin, esculin, umbelliferone and scopoletin), sesquiterpene, lactones (including lactucin and lactucopicrin), and series of glucofructosans. Leaves of the plant contains sulphates and phosphates of sodium, magnesium and potassium as well as potassium nitrate. It also contains a bitter glycoside named cichorine.

Raw Chicory root contains only citric and tartaric acids whereas the roasted contains acetic, lactic, pyruvic, pyromucic, palmitic and tartaric acids.

Analysis of the seeds shows oil 4.7%, Fatty acid composition, Saturated 21.7%, Unsaturated 78.3%.

Medicinal Properties of Chicory

  • Abortifacient - causes abortion.
  • Antimicrobial - active against disease causing microbes.
  • Anthelmintic - expel parasitic worms (helminthes) and other internal parasites from the body which cause various infection.
  • Analgesic - it  relieves pain and act as analgesic
  • Antiulcer - help in healing ulcers.
  • Antimalarial - effective against malaria.
  • Ant diabetic - control blood sugar levels in body.
  • Cholagogue - promotes the discharge of bile from the liver, purging it in downward direction
  • Anti-inflammatory action - it reduces inflammation in body.
  • Hepatoprotective - it prevent damage to the liver and improve its function
  • Diuretic property - promoting urine excretion and act as agent that increases the amount of urine excreted. Thus can be used in kidney function.
  • Demulcent - relieving inflammation or irritation of skin
  • Emmenagogue - it stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus in women.
  • Gastro protective - protects gastric mucosa and prevent gastritis.
  • Hypoglycemic - helps in blood-sugar lowering.
  • Hypocholesterolemic - Lowers the cholesterol level and maintains healthy heart.
  • Hypolipidemic - lipid-lowering
  • Laxative action - tending to stimulate or facilitate evacuation of the bowels. Hence effective in constipation.
  • Sedative - promoting calm or inducing sleep. Has a sedative action on body
  • Tonic - Restore or improve health or well-being.

Health Benefits of Chicory

Chicory herb has been used as a liver tonic and it tone up the liver. It produce moderate temperament in liver and improve functioning of liver. It is effective against hepatitis, jaundice, congestion of liver, enlargement of liver and other spleen and liver disorders.

  • It stimulate and protects liver from congestion and cirrhosis.
  • It increase flow of bile and bile production.
  • It cleanses and remove toxins from kidney-bladder
  • The roots of Kasni reduce inflammation, remove any kind of obstruction like thick or sticky secretion or any other form.
  • It stimulates urine production and kidney functions.
  • It contains up to 40% insulin, suitable in diabetes as it has a negligible impact on blood sugar.
  • The juice of leaves gives relief in fever, and helps in detoxification of blood.
  • It has arteriosclerosis, anti-arthritis, antispasmodic, digestive and depurative properties.
  • It is cooling in action and reduces heat and high temperature of body.
  • It act as mild laxative and gives relief in constipation.

Dosage of Chicory

  • Leaf juice extract - 12-24 ml
  • Root powder - 3-6 gram
  • Powder of seeds - 3-6 gram

Side Effects

  • It is safe for human use.
  • Ingestion of more than 100 g may cause slight bradycardia i.e. abnormal heart rate.
  • People who are hypersensitive to Chicory should not take this.
  • Pregnant women and children should use it with consultation with doctor.
  • It has emmenagogue action and used to promote periods therefore it should not be used during pregnancy.
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