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Chicory or Kasani: The Herbal Panacea

Like metastasis, the medicines cause side effects, while the nature supplements deficiencies, strengthen the immune system and cures disease

The plant of Cichorium Intybus

The plant of Cichorium Intybus

Introduction

A magical plant called Chicory or Kasani has been rediscovered which can cure several diseases. The demand of the Chicory saplings is increasing throughout the world

The leaves, stems, roots, and seeds of Chicory are used for different ailments.

The leaves of the herb are very effective for lung patients and can help in serious diseases of the liver, kidneys, diabetes, and piles.

It is also beneficial in menstrual disturbances, hypertension, gouty arthritis, headache, insomnia, indigestion, dehydration, jaundice, chronic fever, general body weakness, burning sensation, blood impurity, dysuria, urticaria, etc.

Just chew and eat a few leaves of the herb daily to get rid of the aforesaid diseases.

The plants with blue flowers are very effective, while there are other two species of yellow and white flowers.

Chicory as a Food and Fodder

Chicory is cultivated as animal feed.

Cichorium endivia is grown for human use.

The roots and leaf buds are eaten after boiling.

The green leaves are often eaten raw in salad and celery.

The bitterness of Chicory is much appreciated in Italian cuisines.

It is used in dry form as a cooking spice to flavor foods and beverages.

The Albanians use it like spinach for food filling or simmer and marinate in olive oil.

Different Names of Chicory or Kasani

Botanical NameCichorium Intybus

Latin Names

Cichorium intybus Linn (Asteraceae)

Kingdom

Plantae

Division

Magnoliophyta

Class

Magnoliopsida

Family

Compositae, Asteraceae

Genus

Cichorium

Order

Asteales

Species

Intybus

Hindi/Sanskrit Name

Kasani, Kasni

Arabic Name

Hinduba and popularly called Bazrullah

English Names

Endive, Wild Endive, Chicory, Succory, Bunk, Cornflower, Hendibeh, Coffeeweed, Horseweed

Other Names

Blue sailors, Blue weed, Blue daisy, Blue dandelion, Wild bachelor's buttons , Ragged- sailors, Radicchio, Belgian endive, French endive, Red endive, Sugar-loaf, Witloof or witlof

Interesting Historical Facts

It was cultivated as a potherb and relished as a regular diet in ancient Egypt.

As a panacea for the Greeks and the Romans, it restored the affections and fixed the disorders of the liver and the circulatory system.

The chicory sprouts are still used in a common Roman dish called Puntarelle.

The Romans it Intubus or Intubum and the plural of the latter became Hinduba for the Arabs.

The medieval monks also raised the plants.

It is a popular herb in Indian, Unani and other ancient systems of medicines.

In Indian Ayurveda, it is used as a re-solvent and cooling medicine for the problems of bile (pitta) and the diseases of heat (Agni).

In Europe, it is widely cultivated and marketed as a ‘Syrup of Wild Cherry’.

Chicory in Literature

It is one of the earliest plants mentioned in the recorded literature. Horace described his own simple diet, “Me pascunt olivae, me cichorea, me malvae". ("My sustenance: olives, endives, and mallows").

Dioscorides mentioned the wild and cultivated varieties of chicory.

Phing called it Chreston (useful), Pankration (all-powerful) and Ambubara or Ambubeia (full of odors).

Ambubaia was the Syrian name given to the sensuousness and the captivating charms of dancing girls when they were first brought to Rome by Cneius Manlius. In Old Persian language, 'Ambui' means ‘odor’ and 'Bia' means ‘full’. Together they signify ' full of odors'.

In German legend, the plant was once a beautiful princess, who having been deserted or lost by her husband or lover, requested that she be changed into this plant. The chicory flower is a romantic literary symbol of blue in German as the word, Blauwarte (blue lookout by the wayside).

In European folk traditions, the plant as a good omen could open the locked doors.

Cichorium intybus - Chicory flower - in July

Cichorium intybus - Chicory flower - in July

Occurrence

Chicory is generally found in cultivated lands and gardens in the temperate parts of the old world.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, it is native to western Asia, North Africa, and Europe.

This Mediterranean herb is very popular in several European countries and is now found throughout the world.

France is the largest producer of endive.

It is an energy-giving plant in New Zealand.

In the West, it is cultivated in the absence of sunlight to make the leaves soft and pale.

Chicory in India

The plant was on the verge of extinction, but due to the favorite climate, the "Forest and Research Center" at Haldwani (Uttarakhand) is working for its preservation, protection, and growth.

It grows throughout India in the fields as leguminous forage along with berseem or Trifolium Alexandrinum (L).

As Coffee Filler or Coffee Substitute

For peculiar smell and chocolate-like flavor, the dried, roasted and powdered roots of chicory are used as a coffee filler or coffee substitute. It helps in digestion and enhances the richness of coffee.

It has no caffeine. A bitter substance lactucopicrin, present in its roots has sedative and analgesic effects, which can even neutralize the caffeine stimulation.

History

When coffee arrived in Europe, the Dutch assumed that chicory made a lively addition to it. Conventionally, it is now extensively used in Europe as a coffee additive or coffee substitute.

Frederick the Great had banned the import of coffee into Prussia in 1766. So in 1769, chicory was introduced as a coffee-substitute by Christian Gottlieb Forster (an innkeeper in Brunswick).

During the Napoleonic era, the French cultivated it as a potherb for coffee.

During the American Civil War (1861-65), it was first used in Louisiana as a coffee additive, when the Union navy blocked the port. At that time the Confederate soldiers also adopted it as a coffee substitute. It was given as a coffee substitute to the US prisoners.

An essence of coffee and chicory called “camp coffee” had been on sale in the UK since 1885.

It was widely used during economic crises, the Great Depression of the 1930’s, and "The Second World War" in Europe.

During the coffee crisis of East German from 1976 to 1979, it was introduced with sugar beet and rye to make mischkaffee or mixed coffee.

It is also mixed in filter coffee in India, Southeast Asia, South Africa.

Principal Constituents in Chicory

Dry roots contain by weight

98% inulin and 2% other compounds

Fresh roots contain by weight

Sticky substance composed of 68% inulin, 14% sucrose, 5% cellulose, 1.1 % glucose, 6% protein, 4% ash, and bitter substance, resins and other compounds

Root Extract Contains

Tartaric acid, Mannite, Stearin, Betaine, Choline, Fructose, bitter substances, and mucilage

Carbohydrates

4.7 %

Energy

23 kcal per 100 gram

Vitanins per 100 gram

Vitamin A (26 mg), Vitamin E (2.26 mg), Vitamin K (297.6 μg), Vitamin C (a powerful antioxidant, 24 mg), beta-carotene (286 μg), lutein zeaxanthin (3430 μg), Thiamine or B1 (0.06 mg), Riboflavin or B2 (0.1 mg), Niacin or B3 (0.5 mg), Pantothenic acid or B5 (1.159 mg) , Vitamin B6 (0.105 mg), Folate or B9 (110 μg)

Minerals

Potassium (9%), Iron (7%), Calcium (10%), Phosphorus (7%), Magnesium (8%), Manganese (20%), Sodium (3%), Zinc (4%)

Seeds Contain

4.7 % oil, Tannin phlobaphenes and reducing sugars

Oil

Extracted from the plant is non-volatile and contains the Palmitic, Oleic, Stearic and Linoleic acids

Other Contents

Colorless potassium glycosides, cichorii, lactucina and inhibin

Contents per 100 gram

Fats (0.3 gm), protein (1.7 gm), sigars ( 0.7 g)fiber (4 gm)

Ash contains

More of potassium and less sodium, calcium, phosphorus, aluminium chloride, carbonate and silicon.

Cichorin Glucose

Extracted by German chemists from the flowers in 1982

Oven dish with chicory, ham and cheese

Oven dish with chicory, ham and cheese

Cultivated Varieties of Chicory

There are three types of cultivated chicory, which further have several varieties:

1. Radicchio or Red Chicory

It has multi-colored red or red and green leaves. The white-veined red-leaved type is called red endive. It is used in salad dressing and sugar-loaf packing. The bitter and spicy taste becomes mellows after roasting and grilling.

There are different varieties at different places in Italy. It is known as "Radicchio rosso di Treviso" from Treviso; "Radicchio di Verona" from Verona; and "Radicchio di Chioggia" from Chioggia.

It is also commonly used in Greece.

2. Belgian endive

It is endive or witloof in the US, India, France, and Italy; endivias in Spain; chicory in the UK; witlof in Australia; and Chicon in northern France and Wallonia. The leaf chicory is often called endive.

True endive or Cichorium endivia is different from Belgian endive. Belgium exports it to over 40 countries.

The whole subfamily of Catalogna chicory or puntarelle including Belgian endive and Radicchio are used throughout Italy.

3. Root chicory

It is also called Cichorium Intybus or Cichorium Sativum. The roots are fleshy and brown from outside and whitish on the inside. They resemble the tail of a cow. They are 2 to 2.5 feet long and taste bitter.

The roots are baked, roasted, ground, and used as a coffee additive, especially in the native Mediterranean region. It is cultivated in Europe as a coffee substitute.

Chicory with roots

Chicory with roots

Root Extract

This diet supplement or food additive is the best source of dietary fiber and vitamin C. Mix dry and ground roots with water and centrifuge or filter the insoluble parts before ingesting. The pigments and sugars could also be removed.

It is a powerful antioxidant and the best source of soluble dietary fiber.

The chicory roots have the highest concentration of inulin.

The inulin in roots has 110th sweetening power than sucrose. Inulin is a polysaccharide similar to starch and is mainly found as a storage carbohydrate. It is used as a sweetener in the food industry and is sometimes added to yogurts as a probiotic.

The Chicory Plant

Bush: This perennial, erect bushy herb attains a height of 1 to 3 feet.

Stem: At the time of flowering the stem becomes tough, grooved and somewhat hairy. The edges of the stem have hard branches.

Leaves: The leaves are stalked, oblanceolate or lanceolate not lobed. They are broadly oblong and crowded at the base. The rounded or sphere-like leaves appear spirally on the stem and have a bitter taste.

Fruits: The smooth angular and light-colored fruits are either black or pale brown. The achene (a small, dry one-seeded fruit that does not open to release the seed) has toothed scales on top without pappus or feathery hairs. The five-sided or five angled fruits are crowned with a ring of scales.

Flowers: The diameter of small, beautiful and similar flowers which are a bit thicker from the center is from 2.5 to 4 cm. They have bright and blue-purple or lavender color which is rarely white or pink but fades to white. The inner row of involucre bracts of the flower is longer and erect, while the outer one is short and dispersing. The petals open at sunrise and close down before sunset during the flowering season from July to October.

Seeds

The seeds are carminative i.e., helping to expel gas from the stomach or intestines to relieve flatulence or abdominal pain or swelling. The seeds are also used as a brain tonic. They are useful in a headache, asthma and bilious vomiting.

The Plant of Chicory

Taste

The leaves are usually bitter due to the presence of lactucin and lactu-copicrin, the two sesquiterpene lactones and their glycosides.

Other ingredients are aesculetin, aesculin, cichorin, umbelliferone, scopoletin, 6, 7-dihydro-coumarin.

How to Grow and Preserve Chicory

The technique for growing blanched endives was accidentally discovered at Brussels after 1850 AD.

It is grown underground or indoors in the absence of sunlight so that the leaves may not become green and etiolated.

The plant is kept just below the soil and only the tip of the leaves appears.

The leaves are wrapped in blue paper to preserve the pale color and flavor from sunlight.

How to Eat Chicory

The tender leaves are bitterer than the whiter ones. The hard parts of the stem are cut before cooking to reduce the bitterness. By cooking and discarding the water, the bitterness is further reduced.

Thereafter the leaves may be sautéed with garlic, ginger, cloves, anchovies, and other ingredients. Then it is mixed with pasta or meat dishes.

The smooth and creamy white leaves could be served raw, stuffed, baked, boiled or cut and cooked in milk or sauce.

Chicory in Bone Formation and Osteoporosis

Chicory helps in the formation of bones and alleviates the effect of osteoporosis

How Bones are Formed?

The bone resorption is a natural biochemical process of the dissolution of bone tissues to form new bones. The health of bones depends on the building and breaking of bones. If resorption or reabsorption is slow, so is the formation. When no bone is lost, no new one is made.

The large multinucleate bone cells called osteoclasts absorb the bone tissue during growth and healing. Here the bone cells break down during bone resorption and release the minerals. As a result, the calcium gets transferred from bone fluid to the blood and there is a loss of bone or tooth dentin.

Most of the elderly people lack the digestive acids necessary to break down and absorb the calcium.

Weight-bearing exercises and diet prevent osteoporosis.

The Role of Chicory

It helps in bone formation and has the following five-pronged effect on osteoporosis.

1. Inulin Effect

The pre and probiotic-rich foods increase the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and calcium due to the presence of inulin. The rich amounts of inulin in chicory promotes bone formation.

2. Fructans Effect

The non-digestible fructans in chicory increase the absorption of calcium which improves bone mineral density, followed by a suppression of PTH or parathyroid hormone. This hormone is secreted by the parathyroid glands and helps in bone remodeling and controls the levels of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D in the blood.

3. Oligosaccharides Effect

The non-digestible oligosaccharides in chicory roots reduce the rate of bone turnover which reduces the osteoclastic activity by decreasing the rate of bone resorption. The chicory induced osteogenesis prevents osteoporosis due to the protective effect of oligosaccharides. Chicory increases calcium absorption, calcium balance, and bone mineralization.

4. Antioxidant Effect

Chicory extract as an antioxidant prevents free radicals and thereby inhibits bone loss and decreases bone resorption. Chicory increases bone mineral density by raising the bone mineral contents.

5. GIO Effect

The joint injections with glucocorticoids are administrated in gout, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. This causes a serious problem of GIO or glucocorticoids- induced osteoporosis which leads to fractures in 30 to 50% of patients. Chicory prevents GIO.

Chicory (Cichorium intybus) syrup in clear glass vial

Chicory (Cichorium intybus) syrup in clear glass vial

Chicory in Ayurveda

1. Gunna or property

Laghu and ruksh or light and dry

2. Rasa or taste

Tikta or bitter

3. Virya or potency

Ushan or hot

4. Vipaka or after taste

Katu or pungent

5. Effect on tridosha or three bio elements

Vitiates kapha and pitta or watery and fiery elements

Several Other Medicinal Uses

The paste and powder of the whole plant, together with the extract of leaves and roots, and the seeds could be used. The roots and other parts of the plant are dried in sunlight and used as medicine. The ideal dose of juice is 10 to 20 ml, and that of root and seed powder is 3 to 6 gm.

Appetizer

As an appetizer and a cholagogue, it promotes the discharge of bile from the system.

Anxiety and Stress

It alleviates stress and anxiety due to the presence of compounds that stimulate the central nervous system. It is used to treat nervous disorders too.

Body Coolant

It normalizes the body temperature during fever. It cools the hotness and removes the coldness by producing heat in the body. The topical application of the paste of the leaves and roots is very effective in reducing the burning sensations in a particular area.

Bones, Arthritis, and Gout

It increases calcium absorption and bone mineral density. The leaf and root powder help in conditions of arthritis, especially gouty arthritis.

Blood

It acts as a blood purifier by removing the unwanted contents. The intake of a concentrated extract of boiled chicory leaves reduces the blood-related problems.

Cancer

It is used to cure cancer.

Cough

It is useful in all types of coughs, especially that of children. The wild variety is used for respiratory disorders too.

Dehydration

The powder made out of the leaves and roots helps in dehydration.

Diabetes

It lowers blood sugar levels and is helpful for diabetes and obesity due to its hypoglycemic properties.

Diarrhea

It relieves diarrhea and dysentery when taken with fennel seeds (saunf) and the powder of Cuscuta reflexa (amarbel).

Digestion and Constipation

The powder of leaves and roots is very much useful for all digestive problems when taken with vinegar. It increases digestive powers and helps in an upset stomach. The intake of leaves removes constipation and relieves the inflammations of the gastrointestinal tract. The presence of inulin helps constipation by improving bowel functions. The roots have a mild laxative effect.

Eyes

The boiled root extract gives relief in eye troubles and cataracts. The beta-carotene in chicory increases the production of vitamin A which helps to improve the vision.

Fever Sores

The extract of roots is used as a skin wash and applied as a poultice to chancres and fever sores.

Gastroenteritis, Sinus, Cuts, and Bruises.

The flower is used as a treatment for gastroenteritis, sinus, cuts, and bruises.

Gut Health

Due to its resistance to hydrolysis to digestive enzymes, inulin remains intact. But when it reaches the large intestine, the colon bacteria converts it to a prebiotic gel, which is highly nourishing to gut microflora.

Headache

Apply the paste of leaves, vinegar, and sandalwood on the forehead to get relief from a headache. The intake of the leaf or root powder reduces pains and headaches.

Heart and Cholesterol

It is helpful in all cardiac diseases and heart problems as it reduces cholesterol levels by decreasing the synthesis of fatty acids. The intake of a concentrated extract improves blood circulation, strengthens heart muscles, lowers blood pressure and calms the rapid heartbeat.

Insomnia

The intake of chicory seeds, sandal and fennel seeds (saunf) with the juice of Viola odorata (banafsha) calms the brain and cures insomnia. The powder of seeds relaxes the mind, decreases anxiety and induces sleep. The paste of leaves or roots can also be applied on the forehead to induce sleep.

Intestinal Worms

All parts of the plant contain volatile oils, with the majority of the toxic components concentrated in the roots. These volatile oils help to eliminate the intestinal worms.

Jaundice

It is highly useful in jaundice including obstructive jaundice when taken with dates and fennel seeds.

Kidney

It increases bile from the gallbladder and removes the obstructions of a gallbladder. It relieves visceral inflammation and is thus very effective in kidney inflammations. The flower is used as a treatment for gallstones.

Liver and Alcohol-induced Hepatic Damage

Chicory is a natural choice for liver and liver-related problems. The powder of the leaves and roots helps in liver disorders and removes the obstructions of the liver. It helps in an enlarged liver and protects against alcohol-induced hepatic damage. It works as a hepatoprotective, liver stimulant and cholagogues. It stimulates, protects and nourishes the liver and is the chief constituent of Liv-52 and its variants. It is used as a therapeutic and preventive supplement for liver diseases including liver inflammation.

Menstrual disorders

It cures menstrual disorders and burning sensations. The root is mainly used in dysmenorrhea (painful periods) and other menstrual disorders. The boiled extract improves the menstrual-related problems and initiates easy flow.

Mouth Ulcers

The gargling with the juice of chicory leaves and black salt helps in a sore throat and mouth ulcers. The chewing of leaves gives relief from mouth bleeding.

Nose

The juice of chicory cleans the nasal passages.

Poisoning, Pain, and Inflammation

The mixture of leaf extract and olive oil relieves the effects of all types of poisoning and gives relief in pain and inflammation. The application of the crushed leaves on inflamed parts of the body gives relief in pain and inflammation.

Red Rashes

The same paste of leaves, vinegar, and sandalwood gives relief in urticaria or red rashes and prickly heat.

Revitalizer

It helps in general debility and the root infusion is used as a tonic for nerves. The flower of the plant is used in traditional German medicines as a tonic. The leaf and root powder improve overall health.

Swelling

The paste of ground chicory leaves is directly applied to the skin to reduce swelling.

Urine

The roots and seeds are used in blood disorders and dysuria or painful urination. The juice prepared from fresh leaves helps in the problems related to the urinary tract. As a diuretic tonic, it increases urine production.

Weight Loss

The presence of inulin helps in weight loss and overall health.


Scientific Results of Chicory Extract in Alcohol

1. It is effective against the side effects of chlorpromazine (medication for psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia) and drug-induced liver damage in rats.

2. It reduced the blood pressure and caused bradycardia (abnormally slow heart action) in normal hearts of frogs. It also led to the hypodynamic or abnormally low power of muscle contraction of their hearts.

Precautions

Chicory is not toxic to the human body. For most of the people, the medicinal intake and moderate consumption are safer.

Pregnancy

Taking chicory by mouth in large amounts may be unsafe during pregnancy, as it may cause menstruation and miscarriage.

Breastfeeding

It is better to avoid the use of chicory during breastfeeding as its effects are unknown during this period.

Gallstones

Chicory stimulates the production of bile and may cause problems in gallstones. The polyphenols in an alcoholic aqueous extract of chicory show Cholagogue activity. Cholagogue is a medicinal agent that stimulates gallbladder contraction to encourage the flow of bile flow from the gallbladder to the duodenum.

Allergy

It may cause an allergy or skin irritation to those who are sensitive to the plants of Asteraceae or Compositae family like ragweed, daisies, chrysanthemums, marigolds, etc. So allergic people should not handle or eat it without medical advice.

Silkworms

The silkworms or their main caretaker should not eat or even touch chicory.

Invasiveness

Chicory has been declared invasive in several states of the US.

The Português Prato de chicória refogada

Português: Prato de chicória refogada

Português: Prato de chicória refogada

Chicory Braised

A delicious dish could be made from Chicory. The Portuguese Prato de chicória refogada is a very delectable recipe. This is actually the braised Chicory. The word braised is from French "braiser". It is typically a combination of a cooking method by using both moist and dry heats. While sitting in some liquid for flavor, the food is first cooked at a high temperature, then finished in a covered pot at a lower temperature

Here is the complete recipe.

Animal Health and Parasites

1. The ingestion of chicory by farm animals results in the reduction of the burden of worms due to its toxicity to internal parasites. That is why it is used as a forage supplement.

2. The anti-hepatotoxic properties of chicory are found to prevent the damage to the liver among animals.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Sanjay Sharma

Comments

Sanjay Sharma (author) from Mandi (HP) India on March 16, 2021:

Thanks, Devika Primic for the visit and the comment. So nice to see you after a very long time.

Yes, chicory is a wonderful herb having several benefits.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 15, 2021:

Sanjay Sharma This is informative and very well-researched about Chicory. I am fascinated by your hub. So much about CHicory I had no idea of.

Sanjay Sharma (author) from Mandi (HP) India on March 28, 2020:

Thanks, Marlene Bertrand for the visit and the comment. I am glad that you found the article helpful. Yes, the endive and chicory are the same.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on March 27, 2020:

This is all very informative and enlightening information.

About a year ago, I went to my local grocery store and asked if they had chicory. They didn't know what in the world I was talking about. But, they tried to search for it to help me out.

Had I known endive was another name for chicory, I could have walked over to the the vegetable isle and picked some up. At least, I think what you are saying is that endive and chicory are the same.

Thank you for providing such a helpful article about chicory.

Sanjay Sharma (author) from Mandi (HP) India on January 29, 2020:

Thanks, Umesh Chandra Bhatt for the visit and the compliment.

Sanjay Sharma (author) from Mandi (HP) India on January 29, 2020:

Thanks, Devika Primic for the visit and the comment.

Yes, you are right.

Chicory has several health benefits.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on January 29, 2020:

Informative and sounds a useful herb Chicory is different and has many benefits to ailments.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on January 29, 2020:

Very good article. Well conceived. Thanks.

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