Chicory the supplementary medicinal herb for human diet
BS Thorat and SM Raut
Common chicory (Cichorium intybus) is a somewhat woody, perennial herbaceous plant of the dandelion family Asteraceae, usually with bright blue flowers, rarely white or pink. This is also known as blue daisy, blue dandelion, blue sailors, blue weed, bunk, coffee weed, cornflower, hendibeh, horseweed, ragged sailors, succory, wild bachelor's buttons, and wild endive which is native in Europe, and is now common in North America, China, and Australia, where it has become widely naturalized. Many varieties are cultivated for salad leaves, chicons (blanched buds), or roots (var. sativum), which are baked, ground, and used as a coffee substitute and additive. Common chicory contains carbohydrtes (4.7 g), dietary fiber (4 g), protein (1.7 g), sugars (0.7 g) and fat (0.3 g). It is also contains various vitamins like, Vitamin A (36%), Thiamine (5%), Riboflavin (8%), Niacin (3%), Pantothenic acid (23%), Vitamin B6 (8%), Folate (28%), Vitamin C (29%), Vitamin E (15%) and Vitamin K (283%). Common chicory contains different minerals viz., Calcium (10%), Iron (7%), Magnesium (8%), Manganese (20%), Phosphorus (7%), Potassium (9%), Sodium (3%) and Zinc (4%). It is also grown as a forage crop for livestock. Chicory is highly digestible for ruminants and has a low fiber concentration. Chicory roots are an "excellent substitute for oats" for horses due to their protein and fat content. Chicory contains a low quantity of reduced tannins that may increase protein utilization efficiency in ruminants. Some tannins reduce intestinal parasites. Excessively large quantities of tannins, however, could bind with and precipitate proteins, resulting in low digestibility and nutrient reduction. It is variously used as a tonic and as a treatment for gallstones, gastroenteritis, sinus problems, and cuts and bruises. Chicory contains inulin, which may help humans with weight loss, constipation, improving bowel function, and general health. It also increases absorption of calcium and other minerals in humans.