Chicory (Endive)

Scientific name: Cichorium intybus 

Common names:  Endive, Succory

Ayurvedic names: Succory

Chinese names: Michihili, Wong Bok, ju ju

Bangladesh names: Hinduba

Arabic names:    الهندبا البرية (al hindabaa al bariyyah)

Rain Forest names: chicory root, Master blend

Family: Fabaceae

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Root, leaf

Collection: July to September or october

Annual/Perennial: Cool- season perenial herb that grows longer 

Height: 6 feet

Actions: Diuretic, laxative, tonic

Known Constituents: Vitamin C, Phosphorous, Calcium, Copper, Zinc, Saponins, Coumarins

Constituents Explained:

Description: 

Well known as a coffee substitute, its medicinal value is less known.  Used to settle the stomach. Has been used for the liver and the urinary system.1

The endive leaf is commonly used in salads.

Traditional Use:

Clinical Studies:

Inulin is a non-digestible oligosaccharide classified as a prebiotic, a substrate that promotes the growth of certain beneficial microorganisms in the gut. A study examined the effect of a 20 g day supplement of chicory inulin on stool weight, intestinal transit time, stool frequency and consistency, selected intestinal microorganisms and enzymes, fecal pH, short chain fatty acids and ammonia produced as by-products of bacterial fermentation. 

Twelve healthy male volunteers consumed a well-defined, controlled diet with and without a 20 g day supplement of chicory inulin, with each treatment lasting for 3 weeks in a randomized, double-blind crossover trial. 

Inulin was consumed in a low fat ice cream. No differences were found in flavor or appeal between the control and inulin-containing ice creams. Inulin consumption resulted in a significant increase in total anaerobes and Lactobacillus species and a significant decrease in ammonia levels and β-glucuronidase activity. 

Flatulence increased significantly with the inulin treatment. No other significant differences were found in bowel function with the addition of inulin to the diet. Thus, inulin is easily incorporated into a food product and has no negative effects on food acceptability.

The protective effects of plant polyphenol intake on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality are widely acknowledged. Caffeine-free chicory coffee is a rich source of plant phenolics, including caffeic acid, which inhibits in vitro platelet aggregation, and also phenylpyruvate tautomerase enzymatic activity of the proinflammatory cytokine, macrophage migration inhibitory factor.

To assess whether chicory coffee consumption might confer cardiovascular benefits a clinical intervention study was performed with 27 healthy volunteers, who consumed 300 mL chicory coffee every day for 1 week.

The dietary intervention produced variable effects on platelet aggregation, depending on the inducer used for the aggregation test. Whole blood and plasma viscosity were both significantly decreased, along with serum MIF levels, after 1 week of chicory coffee consumption. 

Moreover, significant improvements were seen in red blood cell deformability. No changes in hematocrit, fibrinogen level or red blood cell counts were detected. The full spectrum of these effects is unlikely to be attributable to a single compound present in chicory coffee, nevertheless, the phenolics, including caffeic acid, are expected to play a substantial role.

In conclusion, the study offers an encouraging starting-point to delineate the antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory effects of phenolic compounds found in chicory coffee.

References:

Slavin J, Feirtag J. “Chicory Inulin Does Not Increase Stool Weight Or Speed Up Intestinal Transit Time In Healthy Male Subjects.” 2011 January http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21773588

Schumacher E, Vigh E, Molnar V, Kenyeres P, Feher G, Kesmarky G, Toth K, Garai J. “Thrombosis Preventive Potential Of Chicory Coffee Consumption: A Clinical Study.” 2011 May http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21425378