Chicory, a perennial medicinal plant with pretty blue flowers is not just a decorative plant but is believed to have several medicinal uses.
The botanical name of chicory is Cichorium intybus
This plant belongs to asteraceae family.
History of Chicory
Chicory has existed for more than five thousand years. It is an ancient medicinal plant like Ashwagandha, African bitter leaf, Brahmi, and many others. The chicory root is originally from Europe, Africa, and West Asia but Egyptians get the credit for its cultivation. It was cultivated mainly as a forage for grazing cattle. In the nineteenth-century, the French started using the dried, roasted root of chicory in their coffee. Ever since chicory is used to modify the taste of coffee. Sometimes it is used as a coffee substitute.
Chicory nutritional value
Chicory roots are rich in carbohydrates, contain a good amount of proteins, and have low in fats. One of the substances in these roots known as inulin which is a starch-like substance is capturing the attention of some scientists. This inulin is used to prepare dietary fibers in various dietary product preparations. Chicory leaves are rich in various vitamins and minerals like vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, some B vitamins, and manganese.
Benefits of Chicory
Like other medicinal plants, many researchers study the possible uses and health benefits of chicory. In fact, some scientists are trying to modify these plants by making changes to their DNA to make these plants more useful to humans.
- As discussed earlier chicory roots are used in coffee preparation and also by beer brewers to add a nutty flavor to the beer.
- Chicory is grown for cattle as it is a good source of various vitamins.
- Chicory plants are sometimes used to decontaminate the soil to remove heavy metals like lead from the soil as the roots of chicory are big
- For human consumption, the roots are bitter tasting so they need to be processed first by steaming or roasting.
- The leaves also can be sautéed.
Health Benefits of Chicory
Coming on to why chicory is considered a medicinally useful plant.
- Traditionally the roots, leaves, flowers, and seeds that are the entire plant are considered useful as herbal medicine.
- The leaves are used to treat anemia, jaundice, purification of blood, and to improve liver health.
- The extracts from the leaves are used to protect the skin and cure skin diseases.
- The decoction of leaves is used to control cholesterol and as an antiseptic
- The roots can be cooked or dried and roasted to make powder. The roots are also used to cure jaundice, gout, kidney problems, frequent urination, and to control diabetes.
- Chicory seeds are also used in various herbal medicinal preparations.