What is Chicory Root?

In this article I answer the question What is chicory root as well as research its health benefits, side effects and use cases.

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What is Chicory Root?

Chicory, also known as Cichorium intybus, is a powerful plant that has been used by Native American tribes for centuries.

The root of the chicory plant is known to be rich in inulin, a type of soluble fiber that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. It also has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Chicory has many uses, from being a traditional medicine, to being a coffee substitute, to being a leafy green vegetable. This article will take a look at the many benefits of chicory, as well as the potential side effects and uses of this powerful plant.

huge chicory roots
– A man is holding two large chicory roots. | Source: cosucra.com

Chicory Health Benefits

  • Promotes gut health: The inulin found in chicory root acts as a prebiotic, promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can improve digestion and overall gut health. Studies have shown that consuming chicory root can increase the number of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in the gut, which are beneficial bacteria that can improve gut health (1, 2).
  • May improve liver function: Chicory root has been traditionally used by Native American tribes to support liver function and may help to reduce liver damage caused by toxins. Studies have shown that compounds found in chicory root can protect the liver from damage caused by toxins such as alcohol, and may even help to regenerate liver cells (3, 4).
  • Antioxidant properties: Chicory root contains high levels of antioxidants, which can help to protect the body against damage from free radicals and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Studies have shown that chicory root has a high antioxidant capacity, and may be effective in reducing oxidative stress in the body (5, 6).
  • Anti-inflammatory properties: Chicory root contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Studies have found that chicory root extract may help to reduce inflammation in the body by decreasing the production of inflammatory markers (7, 8).
  • May lower blood sugar levels: Chicory root has been shown to have a blood sugar-lowering effect, which may be beneficial for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Studies have found that consuming chicory root extract may help to lower blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity and decreasing glucose absorption (9, 10).
  • May improve bone health: Chicory root is a rich source of vitamin K, which is essential for maintaining strong bones. Studies have found that vitamin K can help to improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis (11, 12).
  • May have anticancer properties: Some studies have suggested that compounds found in chicory root may have anticancer properties. Studies have found that chicory root extract may inhibit the growth of cancer cells and promote apoptosis, a process by which cells self-destruct (13, 14).
  • May help to reduce weight: Inulin in chicory root can help to reduce appetite and promote weight loss. Studies have found that consuming inulin-rich foods such as chicory root can help to reduce calorie intake and promote weight loss (15, 16).
  • May help to reduce pain: Chicory root has been traditionally used by Native American tribes to reduce pain and inflammation, particularly in the joints. Studies have found that compounds found in chicory root may have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects (17, 18).
  • May help to improve skin health: Chicory root is rich in vitamin A, which is essential for maintaining healthy skin. Studies have found that vitamin A can help to improve skin health by promoting collagen production and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles (19, 20).
1885 chicory illustration
– Chicory plant illustration from Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany. | Source: Wikipedia

Potential Chicory Side Effects

  • Gas and bloating: Consuming large amounts of chicory root, particularly in the form of inulin supplements, can lead to gas and bloating. This is due to the prebiotic properties of inulin, which can cause an increase in gas-producing bacteria in the gut.
  • Allergic reactions: Some people may be allergic to chicory, and may experience symptoms such as hives, itching, or swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat if they consume it.
  • Interaction with blood-thinning medication: Chicory root may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with blood-thinning medications such as warfarin or aspirin.
  • Interaction with diabetes medication: Chicory root may decrease blood sugar levels and may interact with diabetes medication. If you are diabetic, you should consult with your doctor before consuming chicory root.
  • Interaction with birth control pills: Some compounds in chicory root may interact with birth control pills, reducing their effectiveness.
  • Interaction with sedatives: Chicory root may increase the sedative effects of medications such as diazepam, lorazepam, and alprazolam.
  • Interaction with other supplements: Chicory root may interact with other supplements such as diuretics, laxatives, and mineral supplements.

It is important to keep in mind that consuming chicory root in moderate amounts is generally considered safe. However, if you have any health concerns, or are taking any medication, it is best to consult with your doctor before consuming chicory root.

Chicory Nutritional information

Here’s Chicory’s Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz). Source: USDA

Quantity%DV
Energy96 kJ (23 kcal)
Carbohydrates4.7 g
– Sugars0.7 g
– Dietary fiber4 g
Fat0.3 g
Protein1.7 g
VITAMINS
Vitamin A equiv.286 μg 36%
– beta-Carotene3430 μg32%
lutein zeaxanthin10300 μg
Thiamine (B1)0.06 mg5%
Riboflavin (B2)0.1 mg8%
Niacin (B3)0.5 mg3%
Pantothenic acid (B5)1.159 mg23%
Vitamin B60.105 m8%
Folate (B9)110 μg28%
Vitamin C24 mg29%
Vitamin E2.26 mg15%
Vitamin K297.6 μg283%
MINERALS
Calcium100 mg10%
Iron0.9 mg7%
Magnesium30 mg8%
Manganese0.429 mg20%
Phosphorus47 mg7%
Potassium420 mg9%
Sodium45 mg3%
Zinc0.42 mg4%
OTHER
Water92 g
Chicory’s Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz). Source: USDA

How Chicory is used?

Chicory’s root and leaves can be used and consumed in a number of ways.

Chicory root coffee

Chicory root can be roasted, ground and used as a coffee substitute or added to coffee to give it a richer flavor. You can buy chicory coffee on amazon.

Brewed as tea

Chicory root can be dried, ground and brewed as tea as well. It has a rich, earthy flavor and is caffeine-free. Again, if you are tea type person, you can buy Chicory dried leaves from Amazon and brew them as tea.

As a vegetable

The leaves of the chicory plant can be eaten raw or cooked as a leafy green vegetable. They have a slightly bitter taste, and are often mixed with other greens to balance the flavor.

In Supplements

Chicory root can be taken as a supplement in the form of capsules, powder, or extract. If you prefer betting chicory in powder form, I recommend doing so from Microingredients. Best quality, organic and trusted company.

As a capsule form, I suggest you check HERBAMAMA’s Organic Chicory Root Supplement, sold on Amazon and as an extract, you can check this Chicory Tincture Extract – sold again on Amazon and has some really nice reviews.

What is Chicory Root (Cichorium intybus)? Health Benefits, Side Effects and Uses
Chicory Root Powder from Microingredients
What is Chicory Root (Cichorium intybus)? Health Benefits, Side Effects and Uses
Chicory Supplement from Herbamama
What is Chicory Root (Cichorium intybus)? Health Benefits, Side Effects and Uses
Chicory Extract

Cosmetics and skincare products

Chicory root is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and is often used in cosmetics and skincare products such as lotions and creams.

Food and beverages

Chicory root is often used as an ingredient in food and beverages such as ice cream, chocolate, and beer. It can also be used as a sweetener or a source of fiber in processed foods.

It’s important to note that in order to reap the benefits of the plant, it’s important to use it in a way that preserves the compounds of the plant. For example, boiling or frying the leaves of the chicory plant may reduce its nutritional value.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, chicory (Cichorium intybus) is a versatile plant that has been used for centuries by Native American tribes for its medicinal properties. It is rich in inulin, a type of soluble fiber that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Chicory root has many uses, from being a coffee substitute, to being a leafy green vegetable, to being a traditional medicine. While it is generally considered safe, consuming large amounts of chicory root or taking it in supplement form may cause side effects such as gas and bloating, and may interact with certain medications.

As with any supplement or food, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional before consuming it.

Chicory root is a versatile and powerful plant with many benefits, and with proper use, it can be a valuable addition to a healthy lifestyle.



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