Natural Health Tips

Ibn al-Qayyim: Chicory Is Excellent for the Stomach

Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned in his Prophetic Medicine the benefits of the vegetable and salad leaf chicory. He said that it was:

  • Excellent for the stomach
  • Beneficial for gout
  • Useful for hot inflammations of the eye
  • Beneficial for the liver, spleen, intestines and kidneys
  • The juice was beneficial for jaundice, especially when mixed with fennel
  • Mixing the juice of chicory with oil was beneficial for the effects of harmful drugs

What Is chicory?

Chicory is known around the world as two different plants: common chicory (Cichorium intybus) and curly endive (Cichorium endivia). Common chicory is a bushy herb with blue, lavender or white flowers and is sometimes called root chicory, as the roots produce an edible vegetable. Endive or leaf chicory produces white leaves and is usually grown indoors or underground to prevent the leaves from turning green and opening up.

Chicory has a mildly bitter taste. It produces a vegetable comprising of a white bulb of tightly packed elongated cones of overlapping white leaves. It can also be grown for its leaves, which are eaten raw in salads, or can be cooked.

The leaves of chicory or endive contain calcium, phosphorus, iron, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and Vitamin C. The flowers and root contain a glucoside chichorin and the bitter substances, lactucin and intbin.

Root chicory is commonly dried and ground to produce a coffee substitute, as two of the substances found in it, lactucin and lactucopicrin have similar stimulant effects to coffee.

Health Benefits

Chicory is well known for its toxicity to internal parasites. A study indicated that ingestion of chicory by farm animals resulted in reduction of parasites. [1]

One study published in the Journal of nutrition reported that chicory reduced cholesterol levels and increased the ratio of HDL (the good stuff) to LDL (the bad stuff) in the blood of tested animals. [2]

A 1984 study demonstrated that daily intake by diabetics of a large amount of the fructo-oligosaccharides and insulin contained in chicory (i) reduced the glucose rate in blood, (ii) decreased serum LDL cholesterol levels, and (iii) did not change the levels of triglycerides or HDL cholesterol. [3]

Tips on Using Chicory

  • When buying leaf chicory, look for firm, crisp leaves and avoid those with green tips, as theyll be very bitter.

  • If the end of the root chicory is cracked or discolored, trim it off, then remove any limp outer leaves. Then, depending on how you want to use it, either leave whole, separate the leaves, or slice lengthways into halves or quarters. Once cut, brush with lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

  • Chicory will last for around a week in the refrigerator.

  • Chicory can be eaten raw in salads, stir fried, grilled, or added to soups.

References

  • [1] The use of chicory for parasite control in organic ewes and their lambs. Parasitology. 134 (Pt 2): 299307. February 2007.

  • [2] Journal of nutrition, vol. 128, pgs. 1731-6, by Drs. Meehye Kim & Hyun Kyong Shin, Korea Food & Drug Administration and the Dept. of Food Science & nutrition, Hallym U., Chunchon, Korea.

  • [3] Yamashita Y, Kawai K, and Itakura M. (1984) Effect of fructo oligosaccharides on blood glucose and serum lipids in diabetic subjects, nutrition Research, vol. 4, pp. 961-66.