Chicory, chi corium intybus, is a weed which produces blue flowers. It is also known as endive, succory, watcher of the road, and barbe de capuchin (beard of the monk). It commonly grows at the side of the road and paths blooming in June to October. It grows in North and South America, eastern Asia, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. It can be both domestic and wild, growing in gardens as well as the side of the road. Chicory has leafy stems.
The leaves alternate from lance-shaped with teeth to more of a lobed leaf. Chicory usually grows anywhere from one to three feet, however it can be as tall as five feet. It grows best in areas with clods of dirt. Chicory has many uses that are both culinary and medicinal. The root of chicory can be prepared to make a caffeine-free substitute for coffee. Using this coffee can help control a rapid heartbeat due to caffeine.
Some substances in chicory can offset the effects of caffeine by helping the central nervous system. The root is also sauted and eaten as a vegetable. The leaves of the plant are used in salads. The flowers on the plant may be either pickled or candied. Chicory has been used by doctors since the first century A. D.
The Egyptians used chicory to help the heart. The Romans used chicory because of their belief that it kept the blood pure. Although none of these beliefs are true benefits of the use of chicory, chicory can be used to benefit the health of people. Chicory has long been used to help an upset stomach due to bitter substances.
These substances also arouse the appetite. Chicory is also used as a laxative. Many diabetics use chicory because it contains insulin. Along with insulin, chicory also contains ascorbic acid and Vitamin A. Chicory increases the flow of bile, and it helps to remove mucus and gallstones.
Because it removes fluid from the body it can help to treat gout and rheumatism. When taken internally it chicory can hel those who suffer from jaundice and spleen problems. It also aids in helping the digestive system work properly. Chicory can be applied to the skin to help treat swelling and inflammations. When applied to the eyes it lightens the swelling and inflammation of the eyes. It can also help to treat acne.
Chicory can be used as an antibacterial substance. A test by the University of California at Irvine showed that a chemical in chicory may stop the development of HIV. Chicoric acid was found to have antiviral properties. HIV was prevented from moving to cells when a large amount of chicoric acid was used. It also did not show any toxic side effects.
Edward Robinson, M. D. , Ph. D. said, It blocks an enzyme that is required for virus replication. The chemical still has to go through many tests to look for a stronger form which can benefit HIV patients.
As with any herb that is being used for medicinal purposes there are many precautions to take. Taking too much chicory can lead to vision problems and digestive problems. It is also important to consult a doctor before taking it especially if the person taking it is pregnant or plans to be pregnant. Although no problems have been proven women who breast-feed their children should not use chicory.
The milk of women who use chicory while breast-feeding has a bitter taste, and there is a possibility of harm to the child. Children under the age of two should not take chicory it may be hazardous. I feel that it is safe to use chicory if certain precautions are taken. Chicory can benefit many people if used properly. It is important, however, to take reasonable amounts at a time. Since many people consume too much caffeine, I believe using chicory as an alternative is a good idea.
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