Choriin, a 6,7 hydroxycoumarin derivative, is a pharmacologically active component of chicory. Lactucin, a bitter component, may be responsible for chicory’s sedative effects and ability to counteract the effects of caffeine. Other bitter substances, such as intybin, fructose, and inulin, may be responsible for chicory’s actions on the GI tract as a digestive tonic. Inulin also has quinidine-like effects. Chicory is available as fresh and dried leaves, stems, and roots as well as dry root stock.
Benefits And Uses of Chicory
Chicory is often eaten like celery or roasted and used with, or in place of, coffee. It’s also used as a sedative, mild diuretic, laxative, and digestive agent to manage indigestion or dyspepsia. Chicory is used as a salad green. It’s been used in the past to treat cardiac arrhythmias; however, no human trials support this.
Comminuted drug: 3 to 5 g/day .
Decoction: 1 to 1 1/2 cups by mouth every day; prepared by adding 1 teaspoon rootstock to 1/2 cup cold water, boiling, then straining .
Infusion, tea: Prepared by adding 2 to 4 g of whole herb to 7 oz (210 ml) of boiling water for 10 minutes.
Side Effects of Chicory
Potential adverse effects of chicory include sedation, lower heart rate (not proven in human trials), contact dermatitis, and toxic allergic reaction. There are no reported interactions with chicory; however, the herb may have cardioactive effects and may interact with drugs affecting heart rate, heart rhythm, or blood pressure, though this has never been demonstrated or reported over the many years of its use.
Those with hypersensitivity to chicory and those who are pregnant should avoid use. Those with sensitivity to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, or daisies should use cautiously.
Chicory is generally recognized as safe. Monitor blood pressure and heart rate in patient who’s using it for its therapeutic effects, and advise patient to immediately report any heart abnormalities to his health care provider.
Handling chicory can cause contact dermatitis.
Advise patient to watch for adverse reactions, especially sedation and contact dermatitis.
Warn patient not to perform activities that require mental alertness until central nervous system effects are known.
Tell patient to remind prescriber and pharmacist of any herbal or dietary supplement that he’s taking when obtaining a new prescription.
Advise patient to consult his health care provider before using an herbal preparation because a treatment with proven efficacy may be available.
The concepts behind the use of chicory and the claims made regarding its effects have not yet been validated scientifically.