Also known as Blue Sailor, Coffee-weed, Garden Endive, Blue Daisy, Ragged Sailor, Blue Dandelion and Wild Succory.
Chicory is in the sunflower family and is a close relative of the dandelion. Its fresh root(s) have been used in Europe and Asia as a coffee substitute long before it was ever used here for the same purpose. It can be found in fields and on roadsides across the usa. The root can be gathered any time of the year, the leaves are best collected before flowering. The young leaves look similar to those of dandelion and have been gathered for use in salads and soups. Only the young leaves should be used for this purpose as the leaves become more bitter the older they get. (Chicory is related to endive which is another salad green.)
The roots can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute. They are also boiled and eaten still today by those living in the mid-east.
Chicory has bright blue (sometimes pinkish white) flowers; it blooms from July to September but it is best collected between June and August from 9 am to 6 pm (when it is most beneficial medicinally).
Parts used: Leaves, flowers and roots
Meridians/Organs affected: liver, gallbladder, heart, pancreas, nerves, urinary system
Used as: tincture, tea, powder, capsule
Properties: nerve and liver tonic, diuretic, laxative, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antimutagenic
Chicory has been used just like dandelion as their medicinal qualities are very similar. It is a bit gentler in its effects than dandelion. Bitter herbs in general increase bile flow and stimulate digestion. Galen (a Roman physician around 130-216 A.D.) referred to chicory as, "a friend of the liver," for its wonderful assistance to the gallbladder (bile flow) and aid in cases of jaundice and gallstones. It is said that regulary drinking chicory as a tea can prevent gallstone formation.
Chicory also has a diuretic effect and as such eliminates uric acid from the body which aids in such conditions as gout and rheumatism. Research has shown that chicory tincture is a great anti-inflammatory due to its chemical constituents. It is also thought to be of value for cancer, AIDS and viral infections. The Romans used chicory for blood purification. It can lower one's blood sugar and sesquiterpene (extracted from the roasted root) is said to have antibacterial capabilities.
According to Jethro Kloss, in his book, "Back to Eden", chicory is effective for disorders of the spleen, kidneys, liver, urinary issues and for upset stomach. The root tea is said to stimulate bile secretions, assist with skin infections, fever, typhoid, lung problems, etc. The mashed roots were also used as poultices for sores and fever associated with venereal diseases. It has also been found in studies with rats to slow the pulse which may assist with some heart issues for some people. The flowers have been used in eyewashes for eye inflammation. The flower heads have been added to soups, stews and salads or have been pickled for eating later on. Chicory is also grown commercially as a sugar substitute or sugar enhancer as it contains both fructose and maltol.
Chicory is another of the Bach flower essences. It is the essence used for greedy people who sacrifice themselves in order for others to give them affection and attention. Chicory is the essence that breaks down one's over-inflated ego, rids one of self pity, and develops emotional independence and helps to restore and rebuild loving human relationships. It is the essence for true love.
WARNING-Excessive or prolonged used of chicory is said to damage the retinas and slow digestion. So...if choosing to use it don't overdo it.
I don't think chicory is really used enough in my opinion. I feel it is often overlooked for more touted plants and most of its usefulness is pushed to the side and forgotten. I love this herb, not just because it has pretty flowers but because it is useful for a great many things. Search it out on your own and try some for yourself. You might just be glad you did.
As always, I have recipes for chicory but I prefer to be emailed for them if you are interested. I have included some links below to some chicory products you might like to try.