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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

aka Barbe-de-Capuchin, Blue Dandelion, Blue Sailors, Endive, Garden Chicory, Succory, Turnsole, Wild Chicory, Wild Endive, Wild Succory, Witloof Chicory
(Cichorium intybus)

• If allergic to ragweed or other members of the Compositae family, approach use of Chicory with caution.
• In rare cases contact with the fresh plant can cause allergic skin reactions.

FYI Rangy, erect plant with many cultivars which is native to North Africa, Europe, and western Asia, growing from 2 to 5 feet with a 2½ foot spread. Naturalized in North America and peculiar to sloping hillsides. Has been cultivated on a large scale in Michigan.

FLOWERS are an eye-catching azure blue in the wild species, 1½ inches across with toothed rays which open around 7:00 a.m. and close around noon (or later, depending on location). LEAVES are oblong and hairy, the basal rosette can be misidentified as Dandelion in early spring, but Chicory leaves are more bristly; leaves higher up the stem are clasping. Possesses a deep tap ROOT which is light yellow on the outside and a white interior which contains a bitter, milky juice.

A plant of ancient usage dating back to Egyptian and Roman writings and both cultures cultivated it as a vegetable as much as 5,000 years ago. Was mentioned by the Greek physician Dioscorides.

Astrologically ruled by Jupiter §

CONTAINS: 58% inulin (can be that high in cultivated plants), sugar, mineral salts, copper, vitamins B, C, K, P, sesquiterpine lactones (antibacterial lactucine, plus lactupicrine), anthocyanin, chicoric acid, pentosans, cichoriin, esculetin, esculin, alpha-lactucerol, monocaffeyltartaric acid, tannin, fatty oil, volatile oil.
BASED on ZERO MOISTURE per 100 grams: LEAVES = 24.6% protein, 2.9 g fat, 13.0 g ash, 1145 mg calcium, 24.6 mg iron, 23 mg betacarotene equivalent, 1.01 mg thiamine, 1.74 mg riboflavin, 5.8 mg niacin, 159 mg ascorbic acid.
ROOT (fresh) = 77% water, 7.5% gum, 1.1% glucose, 4.0% bitter extractive, 0.6% fat, 9.0% cellulose, inulin, 0.8% ash, trace amounts of betaine, choline, stearin, mannite, tartaric acid.
SEED = approximately 22% protein.

PROPAGATIONBy SEED. Germinates in 7 to 14 days with a soil temp of 70ºF. Perennial to zone 3.
NEEDS Full sun. Deep, friable, calcium rich, well-draining soil with a pH of around 6.4 and which has been well composted. Space 10 to 12 inches apart in the garden (18 inch drills for crop sowing). Keep well watered and weeded during dry spells. Side dress with compost at midsummer. To produce forced, pale greens (ie. endive) dig roots, cut off leafy tops and store in a cool dry place (boxes of dry sand in an out-building such as a garage works in some climates - point being to place them somewhere it does not get below freezing). Allow to lie dormant for 3 months, then plant in a pot at least 18 inches deep which has been filled with good potting soil or sandy loam. Allow to grow in a warm spot out of the light at a temperature not below 55ºF. In 3 weeks the now pale leaves have formed a cone-shaped bud 6 to 9 inches long. Slice off buds and discard root.
FLOWERSSoft bright blue. July-September.
HARVEST ROOT in fall (can also be lifted in spring for some uses). Root can be dug all winter if first dug and replanted in sand or light soil in a protected area where they won't freeze. This method is used more often for 'forcing' leaf growth to be blanched (growing without sunlight).
LEAVES used fresh.
FORMTea/infusion; decoction; poultice (leaves).
CULTIVATED VARIETIES BRUSSELS WITLOOF: Developed particularly for the coffee substitute trade. The blanched leaves are also used by trimming the root to 8 inches and placing in sand in a box, then covering with 8 inches of sand and keeping the temperature at 60ºF; in a few weeks the head is ready for harvest, being 6 inches long.


Bitter, digestive, appetizer, diuretic, laxative, tonic, sedative (central nervous system), liver stimulant (increases bile flow), liver protectorant, and anti-inflammatory. Extract is diuretic, lowers blood sugar, slightly sedative, slightly laxative, and antibacterial; affects kidneys, liver, urinary organs, stomach and spleen. Leaves are considered warm and moistening; the roots, warm and drying. The root dug in early spring and made into a decoction has been used as a spring tonic to tone the digestive system and associated organs. The juice of the leaves and an infusion of the flowering tops has been used to increase bile flow, move gall stones and remove excessive mucous. Research done using mice over 60 years ago indicated that Chicory (or at least 2 of its components) had a sedative effect on the CNS, thereby smoothing out the opposite effect of caffeine when combined with coffee. No further research has been done, so this statement stands alone.
Has been used to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels; also to protect from arteriosclerosis.
Has been used to treat liver problems, jaundice, hepatitis, spleen problems, skin eruptions, gout, joint stiffness, rheumatism, fevers, and alcoholism (due to beneficial effect on liver); the leafy tops have also been placed in soups and stews for liver problems and during convalescence. An infusion of the root has been used for bladder and kidney gravel (taken cold, 2 to 3 times daily, a mouthful at a time).
Root tea or decoction has been used for upset stomach, heartburn, and stomach acidity; also for lack of appetite.
An infusion of the flowering tops has been used as a wash for sore inflamed eyes.
Was used by the ancient Egyptians to treat rapid heartbeat. Chicory 'coffee' has been substituted for actual coffee when there is a heart problem.
The bruised leaves, soaked for a few minutes in hot water, have been used as a poultice for swellings, lacerations, and inflammations.
Bruised leaves have been used as a poultice for swellings, inflammations and inflamed eyes.
In Chinese medicine the dry oven-roasted roots or those turned frequently in a wok are said to elevate 'yang' and has been used for headache, inflammation, sore throat, skin allergies, malaria and in Chinese Folk Medicine as a laxative for children.
Culpeper recommended a handful of leaves or stems boiled in white wine or water to be taken while fasting for dyspepsia, liver and gallbladder problems, spleen problems, jaundice, scalding urine, dropsy, and cachexia (an emaciated state caused by illness). When coming down with a cold or flu, as a preventative, he recommended a dram of powdered seed in wine. He was also familiar with floral 'essences' as he advocated the essence of Chicory herb and flower for swoonings, passions of the heart, headache in children, sore red eyes and for sore, nursing breasts with an overabundance of milk.

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
DAILY = 3 g
GRAINS = HERB: 60; ROOT 60 to 120
DECOCTION = 1 oz dried, powdered root to 1 pint of water; simmered 15 minutes. OR: 1 tsp of ground root per 1/2 cup of cold water; combine in pot and bring to a boil, then strain; taken cold 1 to 1½ cups per day, a mouthful at a time.
JUICE = 1 tbsp in liquid 3 times daily.

Used for Amblyopia, constipation, headache.

Has been used to calm nervous conditions; also for general debility, loss of appetite, liver probems, jaundice. DOSE for livestock is 2 oz of finely shredded root in bran mashes given 2 times daily; for Jaundice, 2 oz of herb to 1½ pints of water, steeped 20 minutes and given 1 cup morning and night while fasting.

To make a Chicory 'essence' or flower remedy, pick flowers early in the day and allow to soak in fresh water in the sun. Later in the day, strain and store this essence. A few drops in liquid have been used for 'crying jags' or for those are are overly possessive or critical of others, or just plain overbearing and controlling; also for those with 'martyr' syndrome.

♦ Radicchio and Treviso are actually the forced leaves of special varieties of Chicory. The flavor is similar to Dandelion.
Often found as a blanched winter vegetable in markets; sometimes called Witloof chicory. The forced heads are placed in salt water for several minutes, then drained and added to a pot in water with a bit of butter; simmer 1 hour, or until tender; best served with white or cheese sauce.
Young leaves picked before flowering are used fresh like spinach or in salad, stir fries and sautes.
The stalks have been blanched while growing and eaten like celery.
Flowers used raw in salads and for jelly; also candied and used for cake decoration.
Root can also be eaten raw or dried and ground for flour (unroasted root); also as a tea made from the cut, dried root. The root has also been cooked and eaten like carrot.
Roots are dug, dried and ground and used as a coffee substitute or added to coffee (a popular combination in the southern United States, best known in Louisiana). Young spring roots are considered best by some while others prefer the fall dug root. They are washed, dried, then roasted in a slow oven at 200º to 225ºF for 1 to 4 hours (turning over occasionally), or until roots are thoroughly dry. They are then cooled and ground in a coffee grinder and stored. Use as you would coffee. Or combine with coffee.
TEA = Steep 1 oz dry root in 1 pint of boiling water for 10 minutes; strain.
COFFEE SUBSTITUTE #1 = Dig roots midsummer to fall (best); scrub clean and slice; dry; roast the dried roots in 225 degree oven till color of coffee; grind roasted roots.
COFFEE SUBSTITUTE #2 = Combine dry roasted chickory and dandelion roots; use in coffee percolator for beverage.
JELLY = Collect flowers; remove sepals and allow petals to steep in boiling hot water for 24 hours; strain off liquid and measure; for each cup of liquid add 1 C. sugar and 1 tsp orange juice; add 1 pkg pectin for each 4 C. liquid; add pectin to liquid and bring to boil (see pkg. directions); add sugar and juice and cook till slithers off spoon. (OR, make according to directions for jelly made from juice).

An infusion of the flowering tops has been used as a skin cleanser.

Provides feed for livestock.

Because of the unusual feature of opening and closing its petals at predictable times, it is used in Floral Clocks.

Will attract bees to the garden.

The leaves and blossoms produce mustard yellow with an alum mordant; brassy gold with chrome; yellow-green with copper; bright yellow with tin; forest green with iron; creamy beige with no mordant.

The seeds have been used in love potions.
In the 19th century the dry, roasted root was used to make'coffee'. One enterprising business in Liverpool, England, actually roasted Chicory root, then ground it and reformed it into bean shapes, then sold the product as coffee beans.

©2000 & 2006 by Ernestina Parziale, CH