Chicory is a flowering plant in the dandelion family, and its roots have been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. More specifically, it has been used to treat high blood pressure, stomach discomfort, digestive issues, liver and gallbladder disorders, and inflammation.
Traditional Health Benefits of Chicory
Chicory is used to treat Gut & Digestive Support, Liver & Cleanse Support, Pain Support, Blood Sugar Support, Stress Support. Chicory is also used as a spice for foods and beverages and is said to have a woody and nutty flavor. Many coffee mixes include ground chicory to boost the flavor of coffee. In fact, ground chicory can also be used as a substitute for traditional coffee beans in an effort to cut back on caffeine consumption.
What is Chicory Used For?
Chicory may have numerous benefits to the body, including the following: Improves Gut Health, Helps with Digestive Issues, Protects the Liver, Manages Pain Associated with Arthritis, Helps Regulate Blood Sugar and Alleviates Stress
Benefits of Chicory
Chicory is an anti-inflammatory herb that improves gut health, aids in digestive issues and protects the liver, among other benefits: Improves Gut Health Chicory root is rich in fiber, making it a potentially healthy component of digestive health. It may help improve the gut microbiome, which is comprised of trillions of microorganisms that live in the intestinal tract and play a key role in digesting foods1. The gut microbiome is also linked to overall health. Helps With Digestive Issues Chicory contains inulin fiber, a prebiotic that encourages the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Research has shown that inulin may help to increase the concentration of specific healthy bacteria strains in the colon. This can help to improve bowel function and avoid constipation and other digestive issues2. Protects the Liver Chicory may be able to protect the liver from free radical damage and toxicity, according to studies. One particular study3 found that participants who consumed chicory root showed a significantly lower level of oxidative stress and cell damage, thereby improving liver conditions. Manages Pain Associated With Arthritis There may be a link between chicory root and the management of arthritic pain and inflammation. One study found that chicory root extract may have anti-inflammatory properties that can help manage arthritic symptoms, especially when it comes to degenerative joint diseases such as osteoarthritis. Many osteoarthritic participants in the study4 who were treated with chicory showed a 20 percent improvement in pain and stiffness at the hip and knee joints, which points to the possibility that chicory may be able to treat this specific type of joint pain. Helps Regulate Blood Sugar Levels Chicory may be able to help fight the onset of diabetes and even help those who suffer from the disease because of its ability to regulate blood sugar levels. In one study, the effects on blood glucose were assessed in study participants. Researchers discovered that adiponectin levels — a protein that regulates sugar levels and fatty acid breakdown — were significantly improved in those who had consumed chicory root extract5. Such findings suggest that chicory root may be effective in delaying or even preventing the early onset of diabetes. Alleviates Stress Caffeine has been known to cause excitability in those who consume it, making coffee a potential detriment to those who suffer from anxiety. Chicory, on the other hand, has not been shown to have such an effect and may therefore be a sound substitute for coffee in these cases. One study found that continued consumption of caffeine along with stress can cause cortisol levels to spike. Elevated cortisol levels have been shown to interfere with memory and learning, weaken immunity and bone density, increase blood pressure, and elevate stress levels6. Since there is no caffeine in chicory, it may serve as a good alternative to coffee to help minimize caffeine consumption and keep cortisol levels to a minimum, thereby helping to reduce stress7.
How to Use & Supplement With Chicory
Chicory is technically a vegetable, so it can be prepared in many of the same ways that vegetables can be made. It can be boiled, broiled, grilled or even eaten raw. Many people chop it up and toss it into their salads. That said, it has somewhat of a bitter flavor, so a certain amount of seasoning is usually warranted to make it more palatable. Chicory root can also be consumed in supplement form. Many supplements come in capsule or gummy formats for easy consumption. It can also be purchased in roasted granule format that can be steeped and consumed as a drink, similar to the way traditional coffee is prepared. While chicory root is generally safe for consumption for healthy adults, there may be some side effects that come with its use, including: Skin irritation Upper respiratory issues There are certain individuals who may not be suitable for chicory consumption, including: Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding Those with a chicory allergy Those with an allergy to certain plants that are closely related to chicory, such as daisies or ragweed and chrysanthemums People with gallstones Those with low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia)
Recommended Daily Allowance of Chicory
There is not enough information to determine exact dosing recommendations. That said, it's recommended that people who choose to use chicory should follow specific manufacturer instructions. If using ground chicory root for consumption as a beverage, it's recommended to use approximately 2 tablespoons of ground chicory root per 1 cup of water. A safe and effective dose of chicory will depend on a number of factors, including age, health and other conditions. As with any other type of natural supplement or product, it's important to consult with a healthcare practitioner before use.
Is Chicory Healthy?
Chicory may have a number of health benefits and may a great complement to traditional pharmaceutical medications. It may also be a great way to help reduce caffeine intake, especially among those who enjoy their coffee. Having said that, there is currently a limited amount of research on the potential side effects of chicory, so it's important to be diligent about using it and only consume it upon the advice of a physician or pharmacist.
Citations and Sources
1. Human gut microbiome: hopes, threats and promises. Gut. https://gut.bmj.com/content/67/9/1716. Accessed May 10, 2019. 2. Ramirez-Farias C, Slezak K, Fuller Z, Duncan A, Holtrop G, Louis P. Effect of inulin on the human gut microbiota: stimulation of Bifidobacterium adolescentis and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii. Br J Nutr. 2009;101(4):541-550. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18590586. 3. El-Sayed Y, Lebda M, Hassinin M, Neoman S. Chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) root extract regulates the oxidative status and antioxidant gene transcripts in CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity. PLoS One. 2015;10(3):e0121549. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25807561. 4. Olsen N, Branch V, Jonnala G, Seskar M, Cooper M. Phase 1, placebo-controlled, dose escalation trial of chicory root extract in patients with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2010;11:156. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20618964. 5. Nishimura M, Ohkawara T, Kanayama T, Kitagawa K, Nishimura H, Nishihira J. Effects of the extract from roasted chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) root containing inulin-type fructans on blood glucose, lipid metabolism, and fecal properties. J Tradit Complement Med. 2015;5(3):161-167. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26151029. 6. Cortisol: Why the "Stress Hormone” Is Public Enemy No. 1. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1. Accessed May 10, 2019. 7. Lovallo W, Farag N, Vincent A, Thomas T, Wilson M. Cortisol responses to mental stress, exercise, and meals following caffeine intake in men and women. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2006;83(3):441-447. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2249754.
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