Chicory is a perennial herb with a long tap root. It has condensed, round stems, numerous light or dark green leaves and pale blue flowers. The leaves have a bitter taste; flowers open at sunrise and close at dusk.
Chicory leaves consist of moisture 93.0 percent, protein 1.7 percent, fat 0.1 percent, fiber 0.9 percent and carbohydrates 4.3 percent per 100 grams. Its mineral and vitamin contents are calcium, iron, phosphorous, carotene, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C.
Chicory flowers contain a glucoside chichorin and bitter substances, lactucin and intbin. Seeds contain bland oil and roots contain nitrate and sulphate of potash, mucilage and some bitter principle.
Botanical Name- Chichorium intybus
Indian Name- Kasni
Below are some of the medicinal properties of chicory:
- Chicory is one of the richest sources of vitamin A which is very useful for the eyes. The addition of juices of carrot, celery and parsley to chicory juice makes it a highly nourishing food for optic nerve and the muscular system. It can bring amazing results in correcting eye defects. Half a liter to one liter daily of this combination has frequently corrected eye troubles within a few months, to the extent that normal vision was regained, making the use of glasses unnecessary.
- The flowers, seeds and roots of this herb are medicinally used in the treatment of liver disorders. About 30 to 60 ml of decoction of the flowers, seeds or roots can be used three times daily, with beneficial results, in the treatment of torpidity or sluggishness of the liver, biliary stasis or, stoppage of bile, jaundice and enlargement of spleen. Endive or chicory juice, in almost any combination, promotes the secretion of bile and is, therefore, very good for both liver and gall bladder dysfunctions.
- Chicory is a natural laxative. It is, therefore, beneficial in the treatment of chronic constipation.
- A decoction of chicory seeds is useful in treating obstructed menstruation.
- The herb chicory, in combination with celery and parsley, is very helpful in anemia. It is an effective blood tonic.
- The combined juices of chicory, carrot and celery are most helpful in asthma and hay fever, provided milk and foods containing concentrated starches and sugars such as white rice, white flours, macaroni, sweets, pastries and cakes are eliminated from the diet. Powder of the dry root in doses of half a teaspoon, mixed with honey if taken thrice daily, is a good expectorant in chronic bronchitis.
The young leaves, preferably blanched, are eaten in salads. They may be mixed with other greens to minimize their strong flavor. The mature green leaves are sometimes used as a cooked vegetable. The root, when roasted and ground, is often used as an ingredient to mix with coffee, or is taken as a beverage on its own.