Bearing the scientific name of Chichorium intybus, Chicory is a perennial plant originating in the north of Africa, Europe and Asia. It has ramified stems, small leaves and big, solitary flowers, colored in light blue. The parts coming out of the ground can be used for medicinal purposes, and they are collected in the first part of the flower blooming period, in the months of June-August, when the plants have not yet entered the next phase. In order for the product to be of good quality, the rosette of base flowers must also be cut down. The roots are cropped in the months of September-October.
Chicory is a plant which is very well-known for its curing effects, ever since ancient times. Chicory can stimulate digestion, cleanse the liver and the spleen, it detoxifies the organism, it decreases cholesterol and glucose, it calms down the nervous system and it has a slight laxative effect. It can either stimulate, or inhibit appetite. This plant has remarkable depurative properties. Jean Valnet in fact stressed out the fact that this palnt is pure blood. Appetite may increase if chicory-based products are used before meals, and if these products are taken during the meals, the effect will be contrary to it (i.e. diminished). So chicory can be used both in case of decreased appetite, and in case of too much appetite. The tonic effect of this plant can be valued, in a sense or another, depending on the method of administration. Because of that, roots of this plant are recommended in obesity. Also, this plant contains very efficient insulin derivate which can transform the non-alimentary products in biodegradable products.
Chicory products, either roots or aerial parts, are recommended in case of some digestive diseases such as gastritis, hepatitis, hepatic diseases, light forms of enterocolitis, helmintiasis, hemorrhoids, diabetes, and so on. Chicory can also prove to be efficient after certain diseases, in convalescent states, or after consuming an improper meal. Chicory is recommended as an adjutant, in cases of insomnia, melancholy, neurosis, and so on.
In sensitive persons, chicory can determine phenomena of intolerance or allergy. There are people who suffer from allergy when coming into contact with this plant, and this allergy can manifest by cutaneous reactions. Because it can have a negative interaction with certain components of the wormwood plant, these two plants should not be used together, but rather separately.
The dried parts of the plant can be used either as powder or in decoction. Also, fresh roots leave a milky type of juice if squeezed which also has officinal properties. The powder obtained by grinding of the aerial part of chicory if taken 2-3 times per day, in a small quantity, apart from exerting the above-mentioned properties, it can also prove to be a good iron supplement as well as a regenerator and protector of liver's cells.
The fresh parts of chicory can also have a curative and dietetic value. They are used in spring, as well as in specific treatments. Leaves of this plant if used as such or in salads, can have a refreshing effect on the human body, having a favorable effect on the liver and can help eliminate certain toxic compounds from the organism. Also, fresh leaves have favorable properties in gallstones. The leaves of the plant are collected in early spring and their taste is rather bitter. If in springtime, before being picked up, the rosettes of the chicory are covered with glass jars for a few days, the unpleasant taste disappears. Witloofs also present properties which are similar to those of chicory. Witloofs are vegetables which are very much related to this plant.
Among the most important properties of this plant, we can mention its good effect on stimulating the nervous system. One can make a decoction out of the plant's roots, for stimulating digestion. Chicory infusion can help replace coffee. Worldwide chicory producers have elaborated an entire series of products. There is for instance pure chicory (roasted and ground), granulated chicory, destined for obtaining the so-called "coffee", soluble chicory which can replace soluble coffee, chicory combined with malt, chicory flavored with vanilla. But the coffee producers did not limit themselves to that; this is how products like chicory cappuccino, which is caffeine-free, with several flavors such as chocolate, cream, and walnuts appeared.