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Chicory

Medically reviewed on Jun 7, 2018

What is Chicory?

Chicory is a perennial plant with bright blue flowers native to Europe, India, and Egypt. It was introduced to the US in the late 19th century. It grows as a weed in temperate climates and is widely cultivated in northern Europe. The dried root is the primary part of the plant used.

Scientific Name(s)

Chicorium intybus

Common Name(s)

Chicory is also known as blue sailor's succory, coffeeweed, sugarloaf, wild succory, and witloof.

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

In cultivation, chicory roots are "forced" during the fall and winter to produce 2 types of leaves used as greens: Barbe de capucin and witloof (or French endive). The leaves of young plants are used as potherbs, which are cooked like spinach. Leaves of older plants, when blanched, are used like celery. Chicory roots are boiled and eaten with butter, and roasted roots are ground and brewed to add a bitter, mellow taste to coffee and tea or used as a substitute for coffee. In Indian texts, whole plant chicory is used as a heart, digestive, stomach, and liver tonic, as well as a diuretic and anti-inflammatory agent. Use of chicory for stomach problems and as an appetite stimulant is recognized by the German Commission E.

General uses

Chicory leaves and roots are used as a vegetable. Roasted roots are ground and brewed as a hot beverage. Use of chicory for stomach problems and as an appetite stimulant is recognized by the German E Commission; however, clinical studies are lacking to support this or any other use. Chicory-derived inulin (a naturally occurring polysaccharide) has been investigated for its potential as a prebiotic and laxative; efficacy of chicory extract has been studied in osteoarthritis.

What is the recommended dosage?

There is no recent evidence to advise on dosages of chicory. Typical doses of the herb in traditional use were 3 to 5 g/day.

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Documented adverse effects. Avoid use.

Interactions

None well documented.

Side Effects

Skin reactions, occupational allergy, asthma, and severe, whole-body allergic reaction have been reported.

Toxicology

Information is limited; however, chicory is regarded as relatively safe and inulin has a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) status of generally recognized as safe (GRAS).

References

1. Chicory. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons [database online]. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health Inc; October 2012.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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