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Chicory

Scientific Name(s): Cichorium intybus L.
Common Name(s): Blue sailor's succory, Chicory, Coffeeweed, Sugarloaf, Wild succory, Witloof

Clinical Overview

Use

Chicory leaves and roots are used as a vegetable. Roasted roots are ground and brewed as a hot beverage. Use of chicory for dyspepsia and as an appetite stimulant is recognized by the German E Commission; however, robust clinical studies appear to be lacking to support this or any other use. Chicory-derived inulin has been investigated for its potential as a prebiotic, laxative, for diabetes, and in mood changes; efficacy of chicory extract has been studied in osteoarthritis and to improve integrity of the skin.

Dosing

There is no recent published clinical evidence to guide dosage of chicory. Typical doses of the herb in traditional use are 3 to 5 g/day.

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Documented adverse effects. Avoid use.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Contact dermatitis, occupational allergy, asthma, and anaphylaxis 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).

Scientific Family

  • Asteraceae (daisies)

Botany

C. intybus is a perennial plant indigenous to Europe, India, and Egypt. It grows as a weed in temperate climates and is widely cultivated in northern Europe. It was introduced to the United States in the late 19th century. Chicory has bright blue iridescent flowers that bloom from July to September. The dried root is the primary part used. When flowering, chicory has a tough, grooved, slightly hairy stem and stands 30 to 100 cm (10 to 40 in) tall. A milky exudate is found in the stems and leaves as well as in the root. C. intybus L. var. foliosum is grown primarily for its leaves, and var. sativum is used for its roots. Cichorium endivia is a closely related species in the genus.PLANTS 2012, Pirson 2009, Blumenthal 2000

History

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. They are also roasted and used 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 dyspepsia and as an appetite stimulant is recognized by the German Commission E.Blumenthal 2000, Kimari 2012

Chemistry

The roots contain large amounts of the polylsaccharide fructan inulin, a bitter principle consisting of 1 part protocatechuic aldehyde to 3 parts inulin, as well as lactucin and lactucopicrin. In addition, the root contains a large number of steam-distillable aromatic compounds. Cichoriosides, ixerisoside, magnolialide, eudesmanolides, sesquiterpene lactones, caffeic acid derivatives, flavonoids, coumarins, polyphenols, and other compounds have been identified.

Acetophenone provides the characteristic chicory aroma. Upon roasting, inulin is converted to oxymethylfurfural, a compound with a coffee-like smell.

Constituents of the greens include chicoric acid (dicaffeoyl tartaric acid), flavonoids, catechol tannins, glycosides, carbohydrates, unsaturated sterols and triterpenoids, sesquiterpene lactones, and tartaric acid.

Chicory flowers contain cichoriin, esculin, esculetin, scopoletin, and umbelliferone.Kumari 2012, Balbaa 1973, Cankar 2011, Hussain 2012, Hussain 2011, Duke 2002

Uses and Pharmacology

Clinical trials are generally lacking, and evidence from animals studies conducted in the 1980s and '90s has not been pursued.

Anti-inflammatory effects

Animal data

Anti-inflammatory effects have been observed in animal wound models. Wound healing was observed following administration of a methanol root extract ointment.Suntar 2012, Olsen 2010

Clinical data

A pilot study of 40 individuals older than 50 years found limited efficacy (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index scale) in osteoarthritis of the knee and hip at the highest of 3 doses tested (600 to 1,800 mg/day in divided doses for 1 month). Further trials are required.Olsen 2010

Antimutagenic

In vitro studies have demonstrated antimutagenic properties for chicory and its chemical constituents.Reddy 1997, Reddy 1998, Tang 1997, Edenharder 1994, Conforti 2008

Antioxidant

Radical scavenging activity and antioxidant effects have been demonstrated and may be due to the phenolic content of the roots or to the constituent beta-sitosterol.Suntar 2012, Lante 2011 This antioxidant activity may be responsible for observed hepatoprotective effects.Nassirian 2008, Atta 2010, Abd El-Mageed 2011, Minaiyan 2012, Zafar 1998

Cardiovascular conditions

Animal data

Experiments with an isolated toad heart suggest chicory extracts possess cardiopressant effects.Balbaa 1973, Duke 2002

Clinical data

A study in 27 healthy adults demonstrated decreased whole blood and plasma viscosity following daily consumption of 300 mL chicory coffee (caffeine free) over 1 week. Effects on platelet aggregation were mixed. Chicory is rich in phenolics, such as caffeic acid, that have demonstrated inhibition of platelet aggregation in vitro.Schumacher 2011 In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial conducted in 54 adults with type 2 diabetes, significant improvements were observed in systolic blood pressure (P=0.01) and diastolic blood pressure (P=0.03) after 2 months of chicory inulin (10 g enriched with oligofructose).Farhangi 2016

Dermatology

Improvement in skin barrier protection was observed with 28-day application of 3% chicory root extract gel cream in 50 healthy mature adults. Prevention of transepidermal water loss and improvement in skin microrelief were significant with the chicory root extract plus ultraviolet formulation compared to controls.Maia Campos 2017

Diabetes

No association of diabetes with chicory consumption was observed in the evaluation, prediction, or intervention in a control cohort of French women.Sartorelli 2010 Significant improvements were, however, observed in fasting serum glucose (P=0.029) and HbA1c (P=0.01) with 2-month administration of 10 g chicory inulin enriched with oligofructose in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial conducted in 54 adults with type 2 diabetes. Additionally, significant improvements were observed in the treatment group in calcium (P=0.02), alkaline phosphatase (P=0.001), systolic blood pressure (P=0.01), and diastolic blood pressure (P=0.03).Farhangi, 2016

Mood and cognition

The acute effects of chicory inulin (enriched with oligofructose) on mood, well-being, and cognitive performance was investigated in 47 healthy young adult volunteers enrolled in a placebo-controlled cross-over study. Approximately 3 hours after administration of chicory inulin (5 mg), improvements in happiness, indigestion, and several memory tasks were noticed. However, it was unclear from the data if all measurements were correlated to baseline on the 2 test days.Smith 2015

Orodental

Chicory extracts have been shown to inhibit gingivitis-causing oral pathogens in vitro.Daglia 2011, Spratt 2012

Postmenopause

A commercially available product of chicory oligofructose plus long-chain inulin enriched with oligofructose or placebo was taken for 6 weeks in a double-blind, randomized, crossover trial in 15 women at least 10 years postmenopause. The effects of calcium and magnesium absorption as well as bone turnover were measured. Compared with placebo and baseline, the chicory product resulted in a significant increase in calcium and magnesium absorption (P<0.05 each); however, no significant differences were observed in markers of bone turnover. A strong correlation was noted between baseline bone turnover and treatment-induced magnesium absorption (r=0.777; P<0.001). Additionally, the bone mineral density of the lumbar spine was associated with responders versus non-responders.Holloway, 2007

Prebiotic/GI effects

Animal data

Chicory forage and roots added to the diet of pigs influenced the GI microbacteria.Liu 2012

Clinical data

Inulin derived from chicory is a soluble dietary fiber that resists digestive hydrolysis and is not absorbed in the small intestine but is fermented by colonic bacteria and is thus, by definition, a prebiotic. Inulin is used as a replacement for fat in snack bars and cakes. Studies have shown daily inulin intake increases stool frequency and flatulence (Micka 2017). Effects on GI bacteria largely show an increase in bifidobacteria, with some studies also demonstrating changes in Lactobacillus and Clostridium species in healthy volunteers.Bonnema 2010, Kleesen 2007, Ripoll 2010, Slavin 2011, Kelly 2008, Rodríguez-García 2012 Inulin-rich soluble chicory extract was somewhat effective in relieving constipation in elderly patientsMarteau 2011 as well in healthy adults.Micka 2017 Doses of about 10 g/day appear to be well-tolerated, though nausea, bloating, and flatulence increase as the dosage increases.Bonnema 2010, Ripoll 2010, Marteau 2011 Use of chicory for dyspepsia and as an appetite stimulant is recognized by the German Commission E; however, robust clinical studies appear to be lacking to support this use.Blumenthal 2000

Dosing

There is no recent published clinical evidence to guide dosage of chicory. Typical doses in traditional use are 3 to 5 g/day.Blumenthal 2000 Native inulin up to 10 g/day is well tolerated in healthy adults.Bonnema 2010

Pregnancy / Lactation

Documented emmenagogue and abortifacient effects. Avoid use.Ernst 2002 Low levels of phytoestrogens have been identified in the milk of cows fed C. intybus.Andersen 2009 Contraceptive activity was observed in female rats in an older study.Keshri 1998

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Contact urticaria, occupational allergy, asthma, and anaphylaxis have been reported.Pirson 2009, Willi 2009 A high intake of inulin has been reported to cause flatulence, bloating, and loose stools. Native inulin up to 10 g/day was well tolerated in healthy adults.Bonnema 2010 Case reports are lacking; however, traditional texts suggest caution in the presence of gallstones.Blumenthal 2000

Toxicology

Information is limited; however, chicory is regarded as relatively safe, and inulin has an FDA status of GRAS.Blumenthal 2000, FDA 2012

Index Terms

  • Cichorium endivia

References

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Atta AH, Elkoly TA, Mouneir SM, Kamel G, Alwabel NA, Zaher S. Hepatoprotective effect of methanol extracts of Zingiber officinale and Cichorium intybus. Indian J Pharm Sci. 2010;72(5):564-570.21694986
Balbaa S, Zaki AY, Abdel-Wahab SM, el-Denshary ES, Motazz-Bellah M. Preliminary phytochemical and pharmacological investigations of the roots of different varieties of Cichorium intybus. Planta Med. 1973;24(2):133-144.4765451
Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
Bonnema AL, Kolberg LW, Thomas W, Slavin JL. Gastrointestinal tolerance of chicory inulin products. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010;110(6):865-868.20497775
Cankar K, van Houwelingen A, Bosch D, Sonke T, Bouwmeester H, Beekwilder J. A chicory cytochrome P450 mono-oxygenase CYP71AV8 for the oxidation of (+)-valencene. FEBS Lett. 2011;585(1):178-182.21115006
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Ernst E. Herbal medicinal products during pregnancy: are they safe? BJOG. 2002;109:227-235.11950176
Farhangi MA, Javid AZ, Dehghan P. The effect of enriched chicory inulin on liver enzymes, calcium homeostasis and hematological parameters in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: A randomized placebo-controlled trial. Prim Care Diabetes. 2016;10(4):265-271.26872721
Holloway L, Moynihan S, Abrams SA, Kent K, Hsu AR, Friedlander AL. Effects of oligofructose-enriched inulin on intestinal absorption of calcium and magnesium and bone turnover markers in postmenopausal women. Br J Nutr. 2007;97(2):365-372.17298707
Hussain H, Hussain J, Ali S, et al. Cichorins B and C: two new benzo-isochromenes from Cichorium intybus. J Asian Nat Prod Res. 2012;14(4):297-300.22375865
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Lante A, Nardi T, Zocca F, Giacomini A, Corich V. Evaluation of red chicory extract as a natural antioxidant by pure lipid oxidation and yeast oxidative stress response as model systems. J Agric Food Chem. 2011;59(10):5318-5324.21488640
Liu H, Ivarsson E, Dicksved J, Lundh T, Lindberg JE. Inclusion of chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) in pigs' diets affects the intestinal microenvironment and the gut microbiota. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012;78(12):4102-4109.22492453
Maia Campos PM, G Mercurio D, O Melo M, Closs-Gonthier B. Cichorium intybus root extract: A "vitamin D-like" active ingredient to improve skin barrier function. J Dermatolog Treat. 2017;28(1):78-81.27161285
Marteau P, Jacobs H, Cazaubiel M, Signoret C, Prevel JM, Housez B. Effects of chicory inulin in constipated elderly people: a double-blind controlled trial. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2011;62(2):164-170.21091293
Micka A, Siepelmeyer A, Holz A, Theis S, Schön C. Effect of consumption of chicory inulin on bowel function in healthy subjects with constipation: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2017;68(1):82-89.27492975
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This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

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