Chicory Health Benefits
Nutrition and health benefits can be found in the Cichorium intybus or more commonly referred to as simply chicory. The leaves, flower and root of this plant are all edible and bring to our body a vast array of health benefits.
One of the most distinguishing features of Cichorium intybus is that it often stands out alone in open weedy fields or gravel fields and the flower only opens on a sunny day.
The chicory flower is usually a bright, light blue or lavender and can be 2 to 4 centimetres wide and they bloom from July to October in most areas across Canada and the northeast U.S. At the base, chicory leaves somewhat resemble dandelion leaves but as they grow up the stem, they become smaller and are alternately spaced. When fully grown, chicory can be anywhere from 90 to 180 centimetres in height.
Is Chicory Edible?
Chicory is edible and is very good for you. The leaves are tastiest in the spring and autumn because the hot summer temperatures tend to make them taste bitter. Chicory flowers are also edible. Perhaps what chicory is most well-known for is its root.
Many people are unaware that chicory leaves are a good source of vitamins A, B complex, C, E, and K, as well as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, and magnesium. Chicory root contains vitamin C and a high concentration of inulin. Inulin is believed to lower the risk of developing colon cancer and it helps to maintain strong bones and teeth by improving calcium and magnesium absorption.
Health Benefits of Chicory
Chicory is beneficial in lowering both cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It can also stimulate the immune system and alleviates intestinal diseases and harmful bacteria. Chicory acts in similar ways to the beneficial bacteria found in yoghurt.
This wild edible plant is reputed to improve appetite, stimulate bile secretion and urination. Historically, chicory root tea was used to treat liver problems, gout, skin infections, fevers, nausea and much more.
You can make caffeine-free coffee out of chicory root by roasting the root until it becomes dark brown then pulverize the pieces in a coffee maker. Roots must be harvested in autumn.
A strong tea made from the roots, flowers, and leaves is reputed to be a good wash for skin irritations including athlete’s foot. You can apply a compress of the boiled leaves and flowers, wrapped in a clean cotton cloth, to minor inflammations, swellings, and boils. Herbalists use chicory tea as a blood purifier (detoxifier), tonic, and decongestant of the internal organs.
A healthy wine can be made from chicory by soaking dried chicory root in 350ml of white wine for at least 10 days, then strain the wine. Drinking a small glass before meals can aid in preventing constipation.
Always be sure to check with a qualified naturopathic doctor or other qualified health professional before using chicory.