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Medicinal Plant Chicory

Chicory (Cichorium intybus L), a perennial herbaceous plant, is widespread throughout Europe. It is rich in inulin, which acts as a prebiotic and stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal microflora.

Chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) is a perennial herbaceous plant from the family of Asteraceae. The stem is erect, pubescent, woody and angular, branched in the upper part. It grows up to one meter in height. The root is spindle-shaped, well branched, very tough, yellowish white in color. The ground leaves are collected in a rosette, they are oblong, they are deeply carved and have a short petiole, the upper leaves are alternating, sedentary and cover the stem, the leaves themselves are bare or on the reverse are pubescent. The flower heads have a diameter of 2-3 cm and occur from June to October, grow individually from the armpits of the leaves and on the tips of the stems. The flowers are bisexual, light-blue, tongue-shaped. Ovula grows with one seed embryo. It blooms from June to October. The flowers are only open during the morning hours and they close when cloudy weather arrives. The whole plant contains milky juice with a bitter taste, especially when it is young. 

Use for medicinal purposes

Leaves, flowers and roots of cichory are used. As a bitter plant, it is used to improve the work of bile and stimulate appetite. The medicinal part is the root that is extracted in autumn or spring but since the plant is solid and durable, it is very difficult to get it out of the ground. It contains 15-20 (-40)% inulin, 20% fructose, bitter substances and pectin. It has a bitter taste, stimulates the secretion of bile and acts as a mild choleretic. 

It is dried, fried and ground and used as a preparation for making substitute for coffee. There is a delicious mixture as an alternative to coffee that can be made by grinding the chicory root and mixed with acorns, barley and rye. 

The leaves are harvested young in the spring before flowering, when they are bitter but they are cooked they have a good taste. They contain 40-50 mg % of vitamin C and 6-14 mg% carotene. Young buds can be pickled and open flowers are added to salads.

Cichorii radix is dried chicory root: Cichorium intybus L., Cichoriaceae

Ingredients

  • inulin (15-40%, in culture up to 70%) – polyfructoside, consists of fructose units (β-D-fructofuranosis);
  • fructose monomer connected by β-1.2 – connection, terminally bound glucose in α-configuration
  • bitter glycoside intubin
  • lactupicrin, 8-deoxylactupicrin (in milky secret)
  • phenolcarboxylic acids: chicoric acid.

Usage

Inulin acts as a prebiotic and as such stimulates the growth of desirable bacteria in the intestinal microflora. Prebiotics stabilize the intestinal mucosa, normalize intestinal permeability and prevent the growth of pathogenic microorganisms. In the body, only a small part of the inulin is enzymatically decomposed and reabsorbed, most of it comes into the colon undeveloped. Intake of inulin as indigestible ingredients have a beneficial effect on constipation. Inulin as a dietary fiber affects the absorption of nutrients, especially carbohydrates. It leads to a decrease in gluconeogenesis and a favorable effect on diabetes mellitus. It stimulates the secretion of bile and acts as a mild choleretic (bitter substance), and is used for dyspeptic difficulties.

TAXONOMY

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Asterales

Family: Asteraceae

Genus: Cichorium

Species: Cichorium intybus

COMMON NAME

Cichory,  common chicory, wild chicory, coffee chicory, coffee weed, succory, wild succory, blue saisy, blue sailors, achicoria (Spanish),  Wegwarte (German), chicorée (French)

FLOWERING TIME

VI, VII, VIII, IX, X month

References:

Flora Croatica database, hirc.botanic.hr

Izvor: Cikorija https://www.plantea.com.hr/cikorija

Prof.dr.sc. Zdenka Kalođera, Sveučilište u Zagrebu, Farmaceutsko-biokemijski fakultet, Farmakognozija II, Zagreb, 2006/2007.

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