Common Name: Chicory, Coffeeweed, Blue sailor
Distinctively bold and bright with its characteristic blue flower heads, chicory is a cooling bitter for the digestion with a lingering sweetness that balances blood sugar.
Chicory is a perrenial herbaceous plant with a characteristic bright blue flower heads that flower for only one day. It can grow upto a metre in height and produces a long tap root. Its leaves are toothed with short hairs and the fruits are a mottled brown. It is cultivated for its edible leaves and roots, but also as an ornamental flower. It is native to Europe, Northern Africa and Western/Central Asia and commonly grows on roadsides and waste land.
How it Works
The primary medicinal constituents in chicory are inulin, sesquiterpene lactones and pungent bitter principles. The inulin portion of the plant reduces lipid levels in the bloodstream, including cholesterol and is classed as an anti-hyperlipidemic. The inulin also demonstrates a hypoglycemic effect through the stimulation of peptides within the endocrine system that are involved in appetite regulation. Chicory has the ability to inhibit prostaglandin and cyclooxygenase, influencing an anti-inflammatory affect within the body. Its bitter principle and taste acts as a stimulant to the digestive system and the liver whilst also supporting digestive bacteria.
Into the Heart of Chicory
In modern herbal medicine, chicory is used as a mild digestive tonic, much like Dandelion and is recommended for liver and kidney complaints and for rheumatism. It is regarded as a digestive tonic, laxative and diuretic. It is a cooling bitter with a sweet aftertaste, gently stimulating the digestive metabolism, regulating the appetite and curbing cravings. It will stimulate a dormant digestive system helping to counter-act fermentation or infection arising within the gut. It is a gentle anti-inflammatory to both the digestive and musculoskeletal systems, whilst also stimulating detoxification and cleansing through the liver. The combination of anti-inflammatory and stimulant properties also makes chicory effective at reducing body temperature during a fever.
Digestive: Indicated in sluggish, inefficient digestive systems with a tendency towards dysbiosis. Indicated in hyperglycaemia and an excessive appetite characterised by cravings. Chicory will also reduce heat and inflammation within the digestive tract.
Immune system: Indicated where there are high fevers or inflammation during an infection. Chicory will help to reduce basal body temperature.
External Uses: Leaves ground into a paste applied to pitta type inflammatory skin problems.