Chicory is a perennial plant, grayish-green in color, with a mature (3-4 cm in diameter), multi-headed root up to 1.5 m long. All parts of the plant contain milk. Stems erect (height up to 150 cm), branched, covered with sparse hairs. Leaves alternate, rhizomes arranged in a rosette; stem leaves arranged alternately, sharply toothed, sessile, upper leaves lanceolate, entire edge. Flowers light blue, rarely pink and white.
The fruit of chicory is a prismatic, asymmetrical, wedge-shaped seed. The plant blooms from June to the beginning of September, the fruits ripen in August-September. Chicory reproduces with the help of seeds and vegetatively from a tap root.
For medicinal purposes, the root of the chicory is usually used, less often the young shoots with flowers. Chicory roots are collected in late autumn: they are cleaned from the ground, the surface part is cut off, washed with cold water, cut into small pieces and left to dry on sieves. Can also be dried in forced dryers not exceeding 50C temperature - dried to a brown-gray color. The finished drug is stored in dry and cool rooms.
Flowering chicory is harvested in July. Collect the upper parts of the plants (30 cm long), place them on sieves in a thin layer, turning them from time to time. THIS drug can be dried outdoors (in the shade), in well-ventilated rooms or in forced dryers, not exceeding 40C.
Chicory contains many biologically active substances. A large amount of inulin, tannins, proteins, organic acids, glycoside intibin, vitamins (ascorbic acid, carotene, thiamin, riboflavin) have been found in the leaves and seeds of the plant. The sap of the plant contains lactucin, lactupicrin, the triterpene taraxasterol, hydroxycinnamic acid (chicoric acid), essential oil, choline and caoutchouc. Chicory flowers contain coumarin glycosides, 15-28% vegetable oils in the seeds.
By drying and frying the roots of chicory (180C), inulin hydrolysis occurs, the fructose content increases (from 2 to 20%), the glycoside intibin breaks down, freeing the chicory drug from its strong bitter taste. During the heating process, fructose caramelizes, giving the roots a rich brown color, the essential oil chicoryol is formed, which also creates the taste and smell of the final product.
Preparations containing chicory act as anti-inflammatory, choleretic, diuretic, antibacterial, hypoglycemic agents. When using chicory preparations, the appetite is stimulated, the activity of the digestive tract is stimulated - they are used in case of colitis, gastritis and enteritis.
Root extract and decoction are able to reduce the sugar content in the blood, therefore it can be successfully used for the treatment of diabetes in the early stages. A decoction of the young shoots of Chicory is used to treat diseases of the gall bladder, liver, kidneys and urinary system. The arrangement of chicory flowers also has a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system, it is used to normalize the heart rhythm.
Chicory preparations are used in complex therapy, for the treatment of endocrine system, metabolic problems, skin diseases and excess weight. Chicory removes toxins and impurities from the body. Thanks to the diuretic properties of the plant, the plant helps to remove excess fluid from the body and prevents the formation of edema. The plant also has a beneficial effect on the immune system - strengthening it.
In folk medicine, chicory is still a popular remedy. A decoction of the root is used as a choleretic agent, in diseases of the gall bladder, gallstones and as a diuretic in diseases of the urinary system. A decoction of chicory root treats diseases of the digestive system, it improves digestion and promotes appetite, it is used in case of dyspepsia, gastritis, constipation, diseases of spleen and pancreas. There are known cases when decoctions of chicory are used in cases of worm infestation, diabetes, anemia, asthenia, scurvy. Externally (baths, applications and compresses), the decoction is used to treat skin diseases - eczema, urticaria, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, neurodermatitis, atopic dermatitis, vitiligo, acne and furunculosis.
A decoction is prepared from the above-ground part of the plant, which is used as an appetite-stimulating and digestion-normalizing agent. The setting of the young shoots of chicory has a choleretic, antimicrobial, antiseptic, astringent, diuretic effect; used in gastritis, gastroenteritis, dyspepsia, hepatitis, nephritis, gallstones, diabetes, nervous disorders.
Externally, a decoction of the above-ground part of the plant is effective in the treatment of eczema, furunculosis, ulcers, purulent wounds and cuts.
Decoctions and infusions are made from chicory flowers, which are used to treat neurological diseases, eye infections, dermatitis and are used in cosmetological needs. Juice is squeezed from the flowers and used as a choleretic. Dried flowers are added to tonic herbal teas.