Chicory (Cichorium intybus) Herbal Medicine

Chicory Health Benefits, Dosage, Side effects and Warnings.


Scientific Name: Cichorium intybus,

Other names:

Common chicory, blue sailors, succory, coffeeweed. It is also called cornflower, endive, radicchio, Belgian endive, French endive, red endive, sugarloaf or witloof.

Chicory (Chihorium intybus) is an erect perennial herbaceous herb of the daisy family which is native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia. First recorded usage of Chicory was in ancient Egypt where it is believed that is offers health benefits for liver and gallbladder. Since then Chicory has been naturalized and cultivated for its edible leaves and roots in most mild temperate regions, in North America, Chicory can be found alongside roads, fencerows and gardens.

chicory rootChicory is a woody plant that can grow to about 10 to 100 cm tall. Chicory has long, deep taproot that is milky inside. Chicory leaves are stalked, hairy, lanceolate and large, coarsely toothed, growing in clustered formation from plant base in spreading rosette while the upper leaves are small. Chicory flowers bloom in mid to late summer until the first frost.  Chicory flower heads are 2 to 4 centimeters wide, and usually bright blue, rarely white or pink.

Chicory are prized for its leaves, roots and buds which are edible.  Chicory leaves and buds (chicon) are used for salad and other meal preparation, while chicory roots are used as coffee substitute and additive. Chicory use in herbal medicine has a long history and some of its health benefits has recently been confirmed by science.

Chicory Traditional Medicinal Uses and Health benefits

Active constituents that are found in Chicory include the following: The active compounds in chicory are inulin, sesquiterpene lactones, vitamins, minerals, fat, mannitol and latex. Other Chemical constituents of Cichorium intybus L Fructan, Sesquiterpene lactones, alpha-amyrin, taraxerone, baurenyl acetate, beta-sitosterol.12 Inulooligosaccharides (IOS), Xanthomonas oryzae No. 5.13, 2, 3, 4, 9-tetrahydro-1H-pyrido-(3,4-b)indole-3-carboxylic acid.14. The combination of these chemicals provide the claimed health benefits of Chicory although limited scientific research would support these claims.

Chicory has been used in herbal medicine since ancient times for the many health benefits it can give. Chicory has been recorded as an everyday treatment for many ailments.

Health benefits for Digestion. Chicory has a mild laxative effect that is beneficial for digestive problems such as dyspepsia, indigestion and constipation.

Promotes well being. Chicory is also used to increase appetite and promote general well being.

Hepatoprotective activity. Dried chicory roots are used to treat jaundice and as prevention against liver damage.

Figths colon cancer. Chicory is rich in beta-carotene that can fight and prevent colon cancer.  

Promotes gallbladder function. It is also used to treat gallstones and liver stones by increasing the secretion of bile from the liver and gallbladder promoting urination and excretion of harmful substances.

Relaxant and sedative. Chicory is also used as natural sedative for nervous system.

Anti-microbial activity. Leaves of chicory are used to treat cuts and wounds,

Anti-inflammatory properties. Chicory is used in the treatment for arthritis, gout and rheumatism.

Weight loss. Chicory leaves are also recommended to be included in weight-loss diets especially to those who are high risk for diabetes mellitus.

Lowers harmful cholesterol. Other health benefits from chicory rich diet include lower LDL cholesterol level and improved bowel movement.


Science Research: Chicory Health Benefits

Chicory has Anti allergic Health Benefit: 

In a study published in “Pharmacological Research Journal, 1999” entitled “Inhibitory effect of mast cell-mediated immediate-type allergic reactions by Cichorium intybus” confirmed that Cichorium intybus (Chicory) inhibits mast cell-mediated immediate-type allergic reactions in vivo and in vitro. Source:

Chicory can lower LDL Cholesterol level and Triglycerides:

In a study published in “Journal of Nutrition, 1999“ entitled “Effects of inulin on lipid parameters in humans” it was found that a compound called fructooligosaccharide inulin decreases the serum triglycerides by inhibiting the hepatic fatty acid synthesis and at the same time reducing production of low density lipoproteins LDL).Source:

Chicory has anti-inflammatory health benefit

In a study published in “Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 2005”, entitled “Inhibition of the expression and activity of cyclooxygenase-2 by chicory extract” it was reported that Chicory contains fructans with reported prebiotic-bifidogenic properties as well as anti-inflammatory effects. Chicory has been found to inhibit prostaglandin E(2) and cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2). Altogether, the data presented strongly support chicory root as a promising source of functional food ingredient, combining prebiotic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Chicory has Anticancer Health Benefit

In a research published in “Carcinogenesis, 1997” entitled “Effect of dietary oligofructose and inulin on colonic preneoplastic aberrant crypt foci inhibition” have shown that Chicory derived Oligofructose and inulin, naturally-occurring fermentable chicory fructans, have been shown to stimulate the growth of bifidobacteria which are regarded as beneficial strains in the colon and inhibit colon carcinogenesis in the laboratory animal models

Chicory is a Good Source of Dietary Fiber

In a study published in “Critical reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 2001” entitled “Inulin and oligofructose as dietary fiber: a review of the evidence” confirmed that Inulin and oligofructose share the basic common characteristics of dietary fibers, that is, saccharides of plant origin, resistance to digestion and absorption in the small intestine, and fermentation in the colon to produce short-chain fatty acids that are absorbed and metabolized in various parts of the body. Moreover, this fermentation induces a bulking effect.

Chicory has Hypoglycemic Health benefit

In a study published in “British Journal of Nutrition, 2005” entitled “Impact of inulin and oligofructose on gastrointestinal peptides” confirmed that dietary inulin-type fructans extracted from chicory root may modulate the production of peptides, such as incretins, by endocrine cells present in the intestinal mucosa. This suggests that chicory may have an important role in the management of obesity and diabetes through their capacity to promote secretion of endogenous gastrointestinal peptides involved in appetite regulation.

Chicory has Prebiotic Health Benefit

A study published in the “Journal of Renal Nutrition, 2002” suggested that the increase in bifidobacteria has been assumed to benefit human health by producing compounds that inhibit potential pathogens, by reducing blood ammonia levels, and by producing vitamins and digestive enzymes.

How to Get and How to Use

Where can I get or buy Chicory?

Chicory plants are available and harvested during spring and summer by cutting off just below the rosette. Young chicory leaves are used for salads while the matured leaves are cooked with other vegetables and meat.

Chicory is also commercially prepared as tincture, powder, capsule, cream and dried herb forms. Chicory supplements are available in most fitness and health stores. Chicory is also available online via Amazon as listed: Organic Chicory Herb, there are other brands, be sure to select one from a reputable manufacturer and do follow the suggested dosage.

How to use Chicory?

Roots are dug up, washed and roasted until they turned dark brown. The roots are powdered and brewed like coffee. Chicory has many health benefits but is more known as a coffee substitute or supplement.

Chicory decoction can be prepared by adding 2 teaspoonful of rootstock or dried herb for every cup of water;. Boil and simmer for 10 minutes then strain solid parts. Chicory decoction can be taken at 8 to 12 ounces per day.


Chicory tea or decoction. tea

  1. Prepare about 2 teaspoon of dried Chicory herb or rootstock for every cup of water.
  2. Boil for 10 to 15 minutes
  3. Let it steep and strain
  4. Store in a glass jar for later consumption
  5. Drink 8 to 12 ounces per day.

You can add other herbs or honey to improve the efficacy and taste.

Dosage, Warnings and Side Effects

Generally safe. Chicory is considered safe for most adults if taken in food amounts or as herbal medicine. Chicory being a nutritious vegetable is generally safe for human consumption.

There are no reported side effects for chicory use when taken at recommended dosage by mouth for most adult persons.

May cause allergic reaction. Contact to chicory plant may cause irritation for those who have sensitive skin or with skin allergy to daisy plants.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Taking chicory by mouth in large amounts is unsafe during pregnancy. Chicory might start menstruation and may cause miscarriage or abortion.

Taking large amount of chicory for breast feeding mothers are also discourage since there is no sufficient scientific studies to establish its safe use.

Gallstone condition. Chicory can promote the secretion of bile from the gallbladder. Use chicory with caution and only with medical supervision when patient is with gallstones.

Just like in any other herbal medicines, moderation of use is recommended. Prolonged use is discouraged.

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