A somewhat scraggly plant with blue flowers, chicory flourishes both in gardens and in the wild, and has been known to doctors at least as far back as the first century A.D. Although it has many medicinal uses, chicory is often used as a food additive. The plant's leaves, like other leafy green vegetables, can be added to a salad or served by themselves, and the roasted and ground chicory root is a common addition to coffee in Europe as well as in the United States. Chicory added to coffee complements the popular drink, for experiments have shown that lactucin and lactucopicrin (two of the substances in chicory that make it taste somewhat bitter) may counteract the effects of caffeine by their sedative action on the central nervous system.
Chicory is believed to be a laxative and is also said to increase the flow of bile. It may in addition be suitable for treating gout and rheumatism, because it acts as a mild diuretic, increasing the elimination of fluid from the body. Chicory leaves have also been used in compresses to treat skin inflammations and swellings.
Taken internally for:
Applied externally for:
Over the counter:
Chicory is available in bulk as green leaves and dried roots.
Tea: 1 tsp. rootstock or dried herb simmered with 1/2 cup water and strained; 8 to 12 oz. per day consumed for jaundice, spleen problems, gallstones or gastritis.
Nutrition and diet: 1 tbsp. juice squeezed from the chicory stem by hands and taken in milk or water three times daily. The fresh greens used in a salad, or sauted as a side dish.