Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

March 22, 2017


Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • Achicoria, achicoria amarga, almeirao, asparagus, Asteraceae, barbe de capucin, Belgian endive, beta-D-fructofuranosidase, blaue Wegwarte, blue dandelion, blue sailors, Brunswick, Chichorii Herba, chicon, cichorei, cicoria radicchio, Cichorium, Cichorium bottae, Cichorium calvum, Cichorium endiva, Cichorium intybus, Cichorium pumilum, Cichorium spinosum, Chicorii Radix, chicory acids, chicory extracts, chicory fructooligosaccharides, chicory inulin, chicory inulin hydrolysate, chicory roots, cikoria, cikorie, coffeeweed, common chicory, common chicory root, common endive, Compositae, ctchorium, curly endive, dahlia extract, endive, escarole, FOS, French endive, fructo-oligosaccharides, fructooligosaccharides, garden chicory, Hendibeh, Hindiba, Hinduba, Italian dandelion, inulin hydrolysate, Kasani, Kasni, Kiku-Niga-Na, Magdeburg, oligofructose, oligosaccharides, prebiotic, radichetta, radicchio, sativum, SC-FOS, short chain fructo-oligosaccharides, succory, watcher of the road, wild chicory, wilde cichorei, wild succory, witloof chicory, zikorifa.


  • Chicory is native to Europe and temperate regions in Asia; it has been naturalized to the United States. Chicory was cultivated as early as 5,000 years ago by Egyptians as a medicinal plant. Traditionally, chicory juice was used as part of a remedy for headaches. The Romans used chicory as a vegetable or in salads. The root was ground and used as a caffeine-free coffee substitute.

  • Chicory is still an important salad vegetable in Europe, especially in France, Belgium, and Holland. In the United States, chicory is also grown as a salad green. Preliminary study has investigated chicory for chronic hepatitis; however, at this time there are no high-quality human trials supporting chicory for any indication.

Scientific Evidence


These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.


Chronic hepatitis

There is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against the use of chicory for chronic hepatitis.


*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).


The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Abortifacient (induces abortion), antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-malarial, antioxidant, bile flow stimulant, breast cancer, cancer, colon cancer, constipation, diabetes, diuretic, dyspepsia (upset stomach), emmenagogue (promotes menstruation), food additive, gall bladder disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, headache, hypercalcemia (abnormally high calcium in the blood), hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), hypertriglyceridemia (excess of fatty acid compounds in the blood), inflammation (eyes), laxative, liver protection, obesity, osteoporosis, sedative, stimulant, swelling, tachycardia (fast heart rate), tonic, weight loss.


The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older):

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for chicory in adults. Common doses that have been traditionally used range from 4-14 grams for treating constipation and hypertriglyceridermia, and for a probiotic effect. Doses as high as 30 grams daily have been taken by mouth to improve bowel function. Chicory tea, prepared by steeping 2-4 grams of the root in 150 milliliters boiling water for 10 minutes and then strained, has also been used. A common dose of chicory is 3-6 grams of root per day.

Children (younger than 18 years):

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for chicory in children.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.


  • Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to chicory or members of the Asteraceae or Compositae family, including ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds and daisies. Chicory may cross-react with birch pollen and cause birch pollen-associated allergy syndrome. Occupational asthma has been reported in a chicory grower.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • There has been long-standing historical use of chicory with few adverse effects noted anecdotally or in the available scientific literature. Chicory appears to be generally well-tolerated, but skin rash and contact dermatitis have been reported with its use. Weight loss, loss of appetite, and myalgic encephalomyelitis (chronic fatigue syndrome) associated with chicory have also been reported. Chicory is likely safe when consumed as a food additive.

  • Skin rash and contact dermatitis associated with chicory use have been reported. The sesquiterpene lactones of the plant may be the allergens. Also, the caffeic acid derivatives from Cichorium intybus have displayed vasorelaxant activity.

  • Chicory use should be monitored in patients with gallstones, due to its bile stimulating effect. Fructo-oligosaccharides can cause flatulence (gas), belching, abdominal pains, intestinal sounds and bloating, which occur commonly, but are mild.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Chicory is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence. When taken by mouth during pregnancy, chicory may induce menstruation or miscarriage.


Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Chicory may interact with drugs metabolized by cytochrome P450. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be decreased in the blood, and reduce the intended effects. Patients taking any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Chicory extract (inulin) may marginally increase the absorption of dietary calcium.

  • Theoretically, chicory may interact with herbs and supplements metabolized by cytochrome P450. As a result, the levels of herbs or supplements may become too high in the blood. It may also alter the effects that other herbs or supplements may possibly have on the P450 system.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).


Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Abrams SA, Griffin IJ, Hawthorne KM, et al. A combination of prebiotic short- and long-chain inulin-type fructans enhances calcium absorption and bone mineralization in young adolescents. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;82(2):471-476. View Abstract

  2. Ahmed B, Al Howiriny TA, Siddiqui AB. Antihepatotoxic activity of seeds of Cichorium intybus. J Ethnopharmacol 2003;87(2-3):237-240. View Abstract

  3. Bischoff TA, Kelley CJ, Karchesy Y, et al. Antimalarial activity of lactucin and lactucopicrin: sesquiterpene lactones isolated from Cichorium intybus L. J Ethnopharmacol 2004;95(2-3):455-457. View Abstract

  4. Bornet FR, Brouns F, Tashiro Y, et al. Nutritional aspects of short-chain fructooligosaccharides: natural occurrence, chemistry, physiology and health implications. Dig Liver Dis 2002;34 Suppl 2:S111-S120. View Abstract

  5. Cadot P, Kochuyt AM, van Ree R, et al. Oral allergy syndrome to chicory associated with birch pollen allergy. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2003;131(1):19-24. View Abstract

  6. Cavin C, Delannoy M, Malnoe A, et al. Inhibition of the expression and activity of cyclooxygenase-2 by chicory extract. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2005;327(3):742-749. View Abstract

  7. Debarbieux-Deleporte M, Delbreil B, Collin T, et al. InsP(3)-mediated calcium release induced by heterologous expression of total chicory Leaf RNA. Biol Cell 2002;94(7-8):545-552. View Abstract

  8. Delzenne NM, Cani PD, Daubioul C, et al. Impact of inulin and oligofructose on gastrointestinal peptides. Br J Nutr 2005;93 Suppl 1:S157-S161. View Abstract

  9. Esiyok D, Otles S, Akcicek E. Herbs as a food source in Turkey. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev 2004;5(3):334-339. View Abstract

  10. Grieshop CM, Flickinger EA, Bruce KJ, et al. Gastrointestinal and immunological responses of senior dogs to chicory and mannan-oligosaccharides. Arch Anim Nutr 2004;58(6):483-493. View Abstract

  11. Hazra B, Sarkar R, Bhattacharyya S, et al. Tumour inhibitory activity of chicory root extract against Ehrlich ascites carcinoma in mice. Fitoterapia 2002;73(7-8):730-733. View Abstract

  12. Johannsen FR. Toxicological profile of carboxymethyl inulin. Food Chem Toxicol 2003;41(1):49-59. View Abstract

  13. Petrovic J, Stanojkovic A, Comic L, et al. Antibacterial activity of Cichorium intybus. Fitoterapia 2004;75(7-8):737-739. View Abstract

  14. Pool-Zobel BL. Inulin-type fructans and reduction in colon cancer risk: review of experimental and human data. Br J Nutr 2005;93 Suppl 1:S73-S90. View Abstract

  15. Sakurai N, Iizuka T, Nakayama S, et al. [Vasorelaxant activity of caffeic acid derivatives from Cichorium intybus and Equisetum arvense]. Yakugaku Zasshi 2003;123(7):593-598. View Abstract

Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.


March 22, 2017