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Medicinal Uses of Chicory Root

By Sam Lupica ; Updated July 18, 2017

Chicory root is used to treat several medical conditions and is considered to be a safe alternative treatment in combating liver disease, parasites and melanoma. However, always consult a health care professional to discuss dosage, side effects and possible drug interactions before turning to natural herb therapy with chicory root to treat any condition.

Chicory Root

Cichorium intybus, commonly known as chicory root, is a bushy perennial plant cultivated for its roots and used as a food additive, a coffee substitute and a crop for livestock. Purported medicinal uses of the plant include treatment for skin cancer, parasites, liver damage and toxicity of noxious compounds.

Chciory Root and Liver Damage

The August 2010 issue of “Food and Chemical Toxicology” contained a study to clarify the effect of a chicory-supplemented diet against induced liver toxicity in male rats. The test animals were divided into groups and treated for eight weeks. The first group was used as a control and received no supplementation. The second was fed a 10 percent chicory-supplemented diet and the third group was dosed with sodium nitrite in drinking water plus chlorpromazine in food to induce liver damage. The fourth group received the same toxins as the third, but was also given a chicory supplement. The results showed that rats receiving sodium nitrite experienced a significant increase in liver damage. On the other hand, chicory supplementation improved these conditions as indicated by the reduction of toxicity-induced liver enzymes. The authors concluded that chicory should be considered as a natural therapy for ameliorating hepatic injury induced by toxic compounds.

Anti-Parasitic Effects of Chicory

An article appearing in the April 2010 issue of the “Journal of Animal Science” detailed a study that tested the ability of chicory to clear parasites from the digestive tract of ewes. The researchers infected the animals with parasitic larvae that cause live fluke disease. The experimental group was supplemented with chicory for a month and assessed for parasite eggs in their droppings. The authors found that chicory-supplemented ewes had decreased fecal egg counts compared with the control group receiving no chicory. They also noticed that lambs grazing on chicory grew faster than lambs grazing on grass and clover but had greater concentrations of pepsinogen, a stomach acid associated with increased digestive disorders.

Anti-Cancer Properties

The October 2008 issue of “Food and Chemical Toxicology” published a study to investigate antiproliferative effects of chicory in cancer. The researchers focused on four human cell lines, including breast, prostate, kidney and skin cancers. They found that chicory showed a selective antiproliferative activity on melanoma. They concluded that toxicity of the plant was irrelevant for human health and chicory treatment of melanoma was highly sensitive and cost effective.

Other Properties

The medical journal “Public Health and Nutrition” published an article in October 2009 that investigated medicinal uses of several wild edible plants. The authors conducted a survey of participants who consumed the plants as a regular part of their diet. They found that Chichorium intybus was effective for its digestive and blood-strengthening properties and was considered a nutritious food. The study concluded that these properties are supported by scientific evidence, but knowledge of these medicinal properties was unknown to many of the participants.

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