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Chicory: Uses, Benefits, Side effects and More By Dr. Smita Barode

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more

Introduction: 

Chicory, kasni, or kasani is a tuberous taproot with rosette leaves grown widely in the winter season, although it originated in Europe. In India, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat account for the maximum cultivation of chicory. The three basic varieties of chicory include radicchio, Belgian endive and puntarelle. Cichorium intybus or chicory is popular owing to its culinary, medicinal, and nutritional qualities found in buds, leaves, and roots. As a herbal remedy, chicory has been used for hundreds of years and continues to be used even today. Let us learn more about chicory’s health benefits and the considerations you need to keep in mind if you’re planning to add chicory to your diet.1 

Nutritional Value of Chicory: 

Chicory contains a potpourri of nutrients ranging from carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Major Phytochemicals in chicory include tannins, coumarins, flavonoids, sesquiterpene lactones, etc. The nutritional chart of chicory is given in the table below.  


Nutritional components Value per 100 g 
Energy  303 kCal 
Fibre  1.5 g 
Protein 1.4 g 
Fats 0.2 g 
Potassium 290 mg 
Phosphorus  61 mg 
Sodium 50 mg 
Calcium 41 mg 
Magnesium 22 mg 
Vitamin C 5 mg 
Niacin 0.4 mg 
Pantothenic acid 0.3 mg 
Vitamin B6 0.2 mg 
Folate 23 µg 
Selenium 0.7 µg 

Table 1: Nutritional value of chicory1 

Properties of Chicory: 

Chicory shows numerous scientifically proven properties; some of which are mentioned below: 

  • It may have the potential to reduce inflammation.2 
  • It may have antimicrobial properties.2 
  • It may have antioxidant properties.2 
  • It may have the potential to manage blood glucose levels.2 
  • It may have properties to reduce lipid levels.2 
  • It may have properties to reduce the proliferation of cancer cells.3 
  • It may be able to lower uric acid.4 
  • It may positively impact the lipid profile.6 

Potential Uses of Chicory for Overall Health: 

Some of the potential benefits of chicory are described below. 

Potential uses of Chicory on breast cancer  

The use of dietary components’ inhibitory and protective effects on breast cancer has increased. For example, Henryk et al. conducted a study in 1999 to assess the effects of chicory on breast cancer. The study findings show a lower number of rats bearing tumours, indicating that chicory may have anticancer properties towards breast cancer. However, more studies should be conducted on humans to claim these effects.3 

Potential uses of Chicory on gout 

Hyperuricemia (Increased production and reduced excretion of uric acid) can result in gout, a type of arthritis which is characterized by redness, pain and tenderness of joints. Wang et al. conducted a study in 2017 that states that chicory may have the potential to reduce uric acid levels. The possible mechanism behind this is the inhibition of the xanthine oxidase enzyme (which converts xanthine to uric acid) and increases excretion of uric acid. This indicates that the consumption of chicory may potentially manage gout. However, more studies should be done to ascertain these claims with more reliability.4 

Potential uses of Chicory in Type-2 diabetes 

Type-2 diabetes shows elevated blood glucose levels due to low insulin levels (a hormone which regulates blood glucose) or resistance to insulin. Literature studies show that chicory contains inulin (a dietary fibre)) which is known to manage blood glucose levels. Ning et al. conducted a study in rats in 2017 stating chicory inulin may exert an anti-diabetic effect; thus reducing blood glucose. This indicates that the consumption of chicory may help manage blood glucose. However, more studies need to be done to claim these effects in humans.5 

Potential uses of Chicory on lipid profile  

The use of soluble fibers like inulin and their potential to manage lipid profile has received considerable attention. Kim et al. conducted a study in rats in 1998, stating chicory influences the lipid profile and causes an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol and reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol. This indicates that chicory may have a positive impact on lipid profile. However, we need more human clinical trials to support these claims.6 

Potential uses of Chicory on bone health 

Bone health can be improved by improving bone mass and mineral density. Literature studies show that dietary carbohydrates and fibers like inulin are known to improve calcium absorption, which may positively impact bone health. In addition, Marcel et al. conducted a study in 2002 to assess the effects of chicory inulin on bone mineral density in rats; the findings of this study suggested that chicory inulin increases bone mineral density. This indicates that the consumption of chicory may help improve bone mineral density and, therefore, has the potential to improve bone health. However, more studies should be conducted on humans to claim these results.7 

Other potential uses of Chicory: 

  • Inulin fibre in chicory acts as a prebiotic and may help improve digestive health in children, adults and elderly. Additionally, the presence of this fibre stimulates gastric acid, improves bowel movements and may help relieve constipation.1 
  • Chicory aids the regulation of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and increases the feeling of satiety. Thus, the consumption of chicory increases feeling of fullness, reduces overeating and may help in weight loss.1 
  • Chicory contains Manganese and Vitamin B6, both of which are needed for the formation of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain and thus, it helps improve brain health.8 

Though there are studies that show the benefits of chicory in various conditions, these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of chicory on human health.  

The main function of the liver is to clear toxins. However, it’s the liver that is more susceptible to toxicity induced by drugs and other chemicals. This toxicity can lead to various hepatic conditions. In such cases, antioxidant agents can reduce the toxicity of the liver. Chicory is a herb that has various medicinal properties including antioxidant properties. Therefore, chicory might help in reducing hepatic toxicity.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

How to Use Chicory? 

  • Chicory tubers can be a great addition to your salads, or you can use them as a side dish or stir-fry them. 
  • Chicory can also be added to non-alcoholic beverages to enhance their taste. 
  • Chicory can also be baked and consumed as a healthy snack. 
  • Roasted and ground chicory roots can be a substitution or addition to coffee beans, without the caffeine content.8 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.   

In Ayurveda, Chicory is widely used for its medicinal uses. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it is primarily used to manage doshas like pitta and kapha. To this list, we can add many other inflammatory conditions.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Side Effects of Chicory: 

Cadot et al. in 2003 stated chicory can result in an allergic syndrome. The allergic reaction to chicory is manifested by oral, skin-related (urticaria or skin rash) and respiratory symptoms like asthma.9 

Other indications of the adverse reactions of the body to chicory are described below:8 

  • Consumption of chicory in excess can exaggerate gallstones by an unknown mechanism. 
  • If consumed in excess, the high amounts of fibre in chicory can cause abdominal pain, flatulence, bloating and other digestive problems. 

However, if you experience any adverse reactions to chicory, it is advised to discontinue its intake and immediately contact a doctor or your Ayurvedic physician who has prescribed it. They will be able to guide you appropriately for your symptoms. 

Also Read: Does Smoking Cause Hair Loss? Unveiling the Truth Backed by Science

Precautions to take with Chicory: 

Chicory consumption by children, adults and elderly is okay if taken in moderate amounts. However, general precautions must be followed in the following conditions:8 

  • There is limited data available on the excretion of chicory in breast milk. Therefore, it is advised to consult a doctor if you wish to include it in your diet during breast feeding.  
  • It is advised to wash chicory properly before use to ensure it is free from dirt, bacteria and germs. 

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

Chicory is known to interact with drugs used in diabetes, if you take chicory and the prescribed drugs together, this may cause your blood glucose to drop too low. Therefore, it is advised to monitor your blood glucose closely if you are taking chicory.  

Therefore, you must always seek the advice of your Ayurvedic physician about the possible interaction of chicory with other drugs and follow the prescription thoroughly, as they will know your health condition and other medications you are taking.10 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) What are the local names of Chicory? 

Chicory or Cichorium intybus is also known as kasni or kasani locally.1 

2) What are the different Chicory varieties? 

The three basic varieties of chicory include radicchio, Belgian endive and puntarelle.1 

3)  What is the benefit of Chicory for weight loss?  

Yes, chicory aids the regulation of ghrelin or the hunger hormone, and increases the feeling of satiety. Thus the consumption of chicory increases satiety, reduces overeating and may help in weight loss. However, scientific evidence supporting these claims is limited and we need further studies to ascertain these effects. Therefore, it is advised to consult a doctor for proper treatment in case you have any weight-related issues.1 

4) Can chicory help manage constipation? 

Yes, inulin in chicory acts as a prebiotic and may help improve digestive health. Additionally, the presence of fibre stimulates gastric acid, improves bowel movements and may help relieve constipation. However, there is a need to conduct more studies to support these claims. It is recommended to consult a doctor for proper treatment in case you suffer from constipation. 

5) What are the side effects of Chicory consumption? 

Cadot et al. in 2003 stated chicory can result in an allergic syndrome. The allergic reaction to chicory is manifested by oral, cutaneous (urticaria or skin rash) and respiratory symptoms like asthma. Chicory consumption in excess can also result in abdominal pain, flatulence, bloating and other digestive problems, due to a high content of fibre. Additionally, chicory can exaggerate gallstones. However, the exact mechanism behind this is unknown.8,9 

References: 

  1. (BASc, J.S. and (BASc, J.S. (2021) 9 surprising benefits of Chicory, Organic Facts. Available at: https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/health-benefits-of-chicory.html (Accessed: December 12, 2022).  
  1. Pouille, Céline L et al. “Chicory: Understanding the Effects and Effectors of This Functional Food.” Nutrients vol. 14,5 957. 23 Feb. 2022, doi:10.3390/nu14050957. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8912540/ 
  1. Henryk S. Taper, Marcel Roberfroid, Influence of Inulin and Oligofructose on Breast Cancer and Tumor Growth, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 129, Issue 7, July 1999, Pages 1488S–1491S, Available at: https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/129/7/1488S/4722597 
  1. Wang, Yu et al. “Cichorium intybus L. promotes intestinal uric acid excretion by modulating ABCG2 in experimental hyperuricemia.” Nutrition & metabolism vol. 14 38. 13 Jun. 2017, doi:10.1186/s12986-017-0190-6. Available at: https://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12986-017-0190-6 
  1. Ning, Chong et al. “Chicory inulin ameliorates type 2 diabetes mellitus and suppresses JNK and MAPK pathways in vivo and in vitro.” Molecular nutrition & food research vol. 61,8 (2017): 10.1002/mnfr.201600673. doi:10.1002/mnfr.201600673. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28105758/ 
  1. Kim, M, and H K Shin. “The water-soluble extract of chicory influences serum and liver lipid concentrations, cecal short-chain fatty acid concentrations and fecal lipid excretion in rats.” The Journal of nutrition vol. 128,10 (1998): 1731-6. doi:10.1093/jn/128.10.1731. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9772143/ 
  1. Marcel B. Roberfroid, J. Cumps, J. P. Devogelaer, Dietary Chicory Inulin Increases Whole-Body Bone Mineral Density in Growing Male Rats, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 132, Issue 12, December 2002, Pages 3599–3602, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/132.12.3599. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12468594/ 
  1. Lutsiv, N. (2022) Chicory: Everything you need to know about its benefits and side effects, BetterMe Blog. Available at: https://betterme.world/articles/chicory-benefits/ (Accessed: December 12, 2022).  
  1. Cadot, P et al. “Oral allergy syndrome to chicory associated with birch pollen allergy.” International archives of allergy and immunology vol. 131,1 (2003): 19-24. doi:10.1159/000070430. Available at: https://sci-hub.hkvisa.net/10.1159/000070430 
  1. Chicory: Overview, uses, side effects, precautions, interactions, dosing and reviews (no date) WebMD. WebMD. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-92/chicory (Accessed: December 12, 2022). 

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