Chicory or Cichorium intybus, is a woody, perennialherbaceous plant of the family Asteraceae. Chicory has bright blue flowers, rarely white or pink. Chicory grows well in many different conditions and is commonly found on the roadsides in Europe, where it originated. The leaves, buds, and roots all have certain beneficial qualities, and the leaves are used in a similar way as spinach in many countries. The root is often ground into a powder and used as a coffee substitute as it has a similar taste of coffee. These granules may be used as a substitute of coffee when caffeine is to be avoided.
Chicory extract has been used for hundreds of years as a herbal remedy for many diseases. It has been used to improve stomach upset, digestive problems and heartburn. Moreover, it was beneficial in reducing arthritis pain, detoxifying the liver and gallbladder, preventing bacterial infections, boosting the immune system, and decreasing the risks of heart diseases. It is also a natural sedative, can fight against kidney stones and may promote weight loss.
Possible Health Benefits
1. May Promote Healthy Growth
A research study (2013) entitled “Effects of chicory root powder on growth performance and histomorphometry of jejunum in broiler chicks” published in Veterinary Research Forum concluded “In conclusion, chicory root powder can improve growth performance in broilers by enhancing food digestion and absorption through modification of jejunum histomorphometry”.
2. May Prevent Diabetes Mellitus
A recent clinical study (2015) entitled “Effects of the extract from roasted chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) root containing inulin-type fructans on blood glucose, lipid metabolism, and fecal properties” published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine concluded “These results suggest that chicory root extract could delay or prevent the early onset of diabetes mellitus and improve bowel movements”.
3. May Possess Antioxidant Activity
A recent research study (2015) entitled “Chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) Root Extract Regulates the Oxidative Status and Antioxidant Gene Transcripts in CCl4-Induced Hepatotoxicity” published in PloS one summaried:
Taken together, our results show that the hepatoprotective effect of C. intybus L. is likely due to the prevention of LPO, sustaining of endogenous antioxidant molecules, and overexpression of genes encoding antioxidant enzymes, thereby preventing DNA damage.
This effect appears to be mediated by natural antioxidants in chicory roots, which significantly attenuated the oxidative threat and led to normal hepatic functions.
Further research must be conducted to elucidate the mechanisms regarding the hepatoprotective effect of CE at the molecular level
4. May Possess Anti-inflammatory Activity
A recent research study entitled “Dietary chicory root and chicory inulin trigger changes in energetic metabolism, stress prevention and cytoskeletal proteins in the liver of growing pigs - a proteomic study” published in the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition concluded “In the present study, we have shown for the first time that diet supplementation with dried chicory root or inulin caused significant changes in the expression of liver cytoskeletal proteins. Close attention should be paid to the downregulation of cytokeratin 18, hepatic acute phase protein that can enhance the anti-inflammatory properties of inulin-type fructans”.
A clinical study (2010) entitled “Phase 1, placebo-controlled, dose escalation trial of chicory root extract in patients with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee” published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders concluded “The results of this pilot study suggest that a proprietary bioactive extract of chicory root has a potential role in the management of OA and merits further investigation”.
5. May Fight Bacterial Infections
A research study (2013) entitled “Antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of Cichorium intybus root extract using orthogonal matrix design” published in the Journal of Food Science concluded “Several extracts displayed antibacterial activities against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus thuringiensis, Bacillus subtilis, and Salmonella typhi, while Penicillium sp. and Aspergillus sp. resisted against all the extracts”.
6. May Improve Autoimmune Disorders
A research study (2014) entitled “The effects of cichorium intybus extract on the maturation and activity of dendritic cells” published in Daru concluded “These results indicated that C. intybus extract at higher concentrations can inhibit T cell stimulating activity of DCs, whereas at lower concentrations can modulate cytokine secretion toward a Th1 pattern. These data may in part explain the traditional use of this plant in treatment of immune-mediated disorders”.
7. May Fight Cancer
A research study (2002) entitled “Tumour inhibitory activity of chicory root extract against Ehrlich ascites carcinoma in mice” published in Fitoterapia concluded “The tumour-inhibitory effect of an ethanolic extract of chicory root was studied against Ehrlich ascites carcinoma in mice; significant results were obtained at doses from 300 to 700 mg/kg”.
8. Other Health Benefits
A review article (2013) entitled “Cichorium intybus: Traditional Uses, Phytochemistry, Pharmacology, and Toxicology” published in Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine summarized:
Cichorium intybus has a long tradition of use globally.
Historically, chicory was grown by the ancient Egyptians as a medicinal plant, coffee substitute, and vegetable crop and was occasionally used for animal forage.
This multipurpose plant contains high amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, and mineral elements.
Inulin from chicory roots is considered a functional food ingredient as it affects physiological and biochemical processes resulting in better health and reduction of the risk of many diseases.
To date, chicory remains an extremely versatile plant, amenable to genetic manipulation, and there is interest shown in genetically engineered chicory to obtain higher yields and create new potentials.
The documented indigenous knowledge relating to the various medicinal uses of chicory has been supported by phytochemical isolation and investigations into biological activity.
Nonetheless, many of its constituents have not been explored for their pharmacological potential and further research is necessary to gain better understanding of the phytochemicals against various diseases.
Toxicological data on C. intybus is currently limited; however, considering that the Asteraceae family is a known source of allergic problems, a contraindication for hypersensitivity should be included in the safety data.
Recent studies suggest the use of C. intybus as a biomonitor for heavy metals; considering that chicory enters the food chain, this plant should be used with caution.
The apparent bioactivity of C. intybus shown in preclinical studies (both in vitro and in vivo) is a testament to its historical use in traditional medicine.
A recent review article (2017) entitled “Chemical Composition and Nutritive Benefits of Chicory (Cichorium intybus) as an Ideal Complementary and/or Alternative Livestock Feed Supplement” published in The Scientific World Journal summarized:
Cichorium intybus is grown and used in many parts of the world for various purposes.
It is often used for its therapeutic and prophylactic quality, or for maintaining general wellbeing. As a very versatile plant, it is beneficial to both animals and humans due to its high amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, and phytobioactive elements.
In livestock production, it has been noted that some of its phytoconstituents possess properties that improve the welfare of animals either in a parasitized state or otherwise.
This makes chicory an ideal, cheap, natural, and sustainable livestock supplement or alternative feed material.
However, caution should be exercised when chicory is included in diets or grazed by ruminants to prevent toxicity in high concentrations of PSM.
Further research on the multipurpose properties of the phytobioactive elements found in chicory, their antinutritional effects, effective dose of inclusion in animal diets, mechanism of action involved, and the biochemical description of the active PSM is strongly recommended.
A review article (2007) entitled “Toxicological evaluation of a chicory root extract” published in Food and Chemical Toxicology summarized:
In summary, some evidence suggests that chicory root extract containing sesquiterpene lactones is non-toxic.
Chicory has been grown and consumed by humans since ancient Egyptian times.
The aqueous extract which contains a large amount of carbohydrates is generally regarded as safe (GRAS) and has a history of human use as a coffee additive.
The current study showed chicory extract prepared by ethanol extraction, defatting with n-heptane and further extraction with ethyl acetate is non-mutagenic in the performed Ames test.
The 28-day rat study showed no treatment-related adverse events, demonstrating that the tested chicory extract is non-toxic to rats, with a NOAEL of 1000 mg/kg/day when administered orally for 28 consecutive days.
The combined history of human use of the root and aqueous extract and data from the current study support the use of chicory sesquiterpene lactone root extract in a longer-term test of toxicity in experimental animal models and also support further testing of chicory root extract as a therapeutic agent for inflammatory diseases.
Fine’s Appetite Booster
Chicory root extract is one of the active ingredients in Fine’s Appetite Booster. This natural supplement is a safe and an effective balanced formula of herbs, vitamins and minerals designed to boost a healthy appetite for kids and achieve an ideal body weight. This product may also:
Boost energetic & mental levels
Normalize bowel movement
Protect & Support vital organs
Normalize blood sugar levels
Support growth of healthy bones
Boost immune system & protect against infections
Prevent various kinds of anemia
Promote healthy hair and skin
Promote & Support healthy vision