Chicory Uses and Benefits

Join Julie Polanco on this episode of Crunchy Christian Podcast as she discusses chicory’s purse uses and benefits.Join Julie Polanco on this episode of Crunchy Christian Podcast as she discusses chicory’s purse uses and benefits. Find out how this common weed has been used for centuries to help with many health issues.

Some Facts About Chicory

History

Common chicory or Cichorium intybus in Latin, is well-known in the United States as the key ingredient in that New Orleans favorite, chicory coffee from Café Du Monde. However, it is a very old plant, with records of its cultivation going as far back as ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians used it as a medicinal plant. They used it as a liver tonic, sedative, and appetite stimulant.  In addition, the writings of Virgil and Pliny mention it as a tasty vegetable and salad green. The ancient doctor, Galen, wrote that it was a “friend of the liver,” thus supporting its use as such by the Egyptians.

And, of course, if it’s good for humans to eat, it’s also good for animal fodder. As it grows well almost everywhere, one of chicory’s uses and benefits was as a cheap and easy way to feed grazing animals. It came to the United States with the colonists as a medicinal herb, just as many other weeds have. And, while many colonists grew it as such, some, like Thomas Jefferson, grew it mostly for his animals.

It is eaten as a traditional Passover bitter herb and a spring tonic in many cultures.

So, if chicory’s uses and benefits through history place it as a tasty medicinal herb also useful for animals, how did it come to be used in coffee? Listen to the podcast and find out!

What does it look like?

Chicory resembles dandelion in its deep taproot and rosette of toothed leaves. However, unlike dandelion, it puts up a stiff, hairy flower stalk with sparse little leaves. Stalks may grow 2 to 5 feet tall and branch several times. The blue flowers have a slight resemblance to daisies in their structure. They have the unique tendency to open early in the morning and close about five hours later. The herbalist Mrs. C.F. Leyel has observed that “the lovely blue color of the petals is changed into a brilliant red by the acid of ants, if placed on an ant-hill.”

Chicory has many cultivated species, such as radicchio and Belgian endive, specifically grown for their leafy tops.

Chicory Uses and Benefits

Chicory is a good source of folic acid, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and pre-biotic inulin.

Modern research shows that most of the medicinal properties of the plant lie in the roots. More than 100 different active compounds have been identified in this plant! Chicory root has shown activity against strains of Strep, E. coli, Staph, Candida, Salmonella, and others. Animals who graze on it show a lower incidence of worm infestations. Research confirms its traditional use against malarial fevers in Afghanistan. It also confirms its long tradition of use as a liver tonic in India and other parts of the world. Experiments with rats confirmed other chicory uses and benefits in controlling diabetes, as an anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcerative, antioxidant, reducing tumors, and more!

Safety

Be careful if you have allergies! Generally safe, even for children. Do not consume in large amounts, though, as some people have experienced adverse effects.

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