Medicinal Uses of Chicory Root
Common chicory (Cichorium intybus) is a perennial herbaceous plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family of plants. It is also known as succory, coffeeweed, and blue sailors. Some varieties are cultivated for their greens which are used as salad ingredients. Chicory greens are loaded with healing and health promoting nutrients such as vitamin K, carotenoids, vitamin C, and folate. Root chicory (Cichorium intybus var. sativum), on the other hand, is not used for cooking. Root chicory is available for use as a dietary supplement, an ingredient for herbal tea infusions, a food additive, and a coffee substitute. In some countries, chicory root is also used as a source of forage for livestock.
The most famous medicinal property of the chicory root is its high concentration of inulin. Chicory root is one of the best natural sources of inulin, and many supplement manufacturers use chicory root to make inulin supplements. Inulin, which is classified as a dietary fiber, does not elevate blood sugar levels, which makes it beneficial for people with diabetes and related conditions (such as PCOS and insulin resistance). Inulin is also known to promote the growth of bifidobacteria in the intestines. Bifidobacteria are beneficial bacteria that live in the gut. They have been shown to destroy pathogens in the intestines, prevent constipation, and help maintain a healthy immune system. There is also some evidence that these bacteria may be able to bring down the levels of certain harmful enzymes that turn pro-carcinogenic substances into carcinogens in the intestines.
About the Asteraceae Family of Healing Plants
The Asteraceae family of plants is also known as the aster, daisy, or sunflower family. This family comprises a wide range of plants, most of which are herbaceous, but there are also vines, shrubs, and trees in the group. Some of the Asteraceae plants are edible, while others are not. Edible Asteraceae plants include the tap root of the great burdock (Arctium lappa) and the tuber of the Jerusalem artichoke. For interesting information about using great burdock as a health food, read our article The Extraordinary Health and Nutritional Benefits of Edible Burdock.