Library of Nature: Chicory
Chicory, largely known as a coffee substitute, has numerous therapeutic properties making it a valuable herb. Let’s discuss its medicinal properties and benefits.
The chicory herb is used in Mediterranean cuisine. Besides culinary use, it has also had several medicinal uses. It has bright blue flowers, and is a member of the dandelion family. Due to the similar taste and color, it is considered as an alternative to coffee.
The root of the chicory herb is believed to have several health benefits. Hence, it is extracted and used in supplements as well as food additives. Below are some chicory benefits:
Full of Prebiotic Fiber
Chicory has the prebiotics effects that stimulate the appetite, fill the iron deficiencies and lower blood lipid level. Above all, this effect of Chicory balances the intestinal flora. Prebiotics are consumed by probiotics, the beneficial bacteria that support our immune system.
68% of the fresh Chicory root is composed of inulin, a soluble fiber known as a fructan. Inulin is prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria in your intestines. These good bacteria can provide several health benefits, which is why you should consume more foods that have insulin, like the chicory root.
Can Help with Bowel Movements
The inulin goes through the body undigested, and it feeds good bacteria along the way. Hence, it can help to promote digestion.
Inulin can help relieve constipation. A study was carried out over 4 weeks to find the effects of chicory inulin on bowel movements. It was found to be beneficial. When compared to a placebo, chicory inulin increased the bowel movement frequency (1)
Better Blood Sugar Control
Chicory root fiber is good for diabetics because it may help to improve blood sugar control.
Since inulin is indigestible, it can be used to replace dietary fat or sugar in some processed and functional foods. That's why inulin is used as an ingredient in food products in place of sugar. Evidence shows that inulin can promote improve insulin sensitivity by growth of good bacteria. Insulin is the hormone that allows us to absorb and use sugar. (2)
The chicory root fiber also has beneficial compounds such as chlorogenic and chicoric acids, which can help improve insulin sensitivity in animal studies. (3)
A 2-month study was carried out on 49 women who had type 2 diabetes. The subjects were given 10 grams of inulin each day. This led to a substantial improvement in blood sugar levels. Compared to taking a placebo, the inulin resulted in lower blood sugar levels. (4)
Other Chicory Benefits
Chicory has enjoyed long use as a medicinal herb. The herb has its origins in the Mediterranean area. Ebers Papyrus mentions the herb, so it has been in use for thousands of years.
The chicory herb has antioxidants that may help to prevent liver damage. The herb also stimulates bile production, which can bring benefits to the digestive system.
Since the chicory herb has been used for such a long time, it merits further research. This will help us to find out more about chicory benefits. The best way to consume this virtuous herb is in the form of capsules and tinctures. However, it is always recommended to use supplements in consultation with your doctor.