Chicory

Chinese: 菊苣

Pinyin: Jú Jù

Parts used: All parts

TCM category: Herbs that relieve Food Stagnation

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: BladderSpleenLiver

Scientific name: Cichorium intybus

Other names: Common chicory, Blue daisy, Blue dandelion, Blue sailors, Blue weed, Bunk, Coffeeweed, Cornflower, Hendibeh, Horseweed, Ragged sailors, Succory, Wild bachelor's buttons and Wild endive

Use of chicory (Jú Jù) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitionner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Remove impurities, wash, soak in water, cut in parts and dry.

Dosage: 9 - 18 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears the Liver. Strengthens the Gallbladder and Stomach and smooths digestion. Facilitates urination and reduces swelling.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which chicory may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Edema Oliguria Jaundice Stomach rumble Loss of appetite Indigestion

Key TCM concepts behind chicory's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), chicory are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that relieve Food Stagnation' category. These herbs typically possess digestive and Food moving properties as they relate to the Stomach and Spleen. Some of these herbs are high in digestive enzymes and have varying specific abilities to help with the digestion of food.

Furthermore chicory are plants that are Cool in nature. This means that chicory tend to help people who have too much "heat" in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Cold in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much heat in their body are said to either have a Yang excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition chicory can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Chicory also taste Bitter. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like chicory tend to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing heat, drying dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what organs and meridians they target. As such chicory are thought to target the Bladder, the Spleen and the Liver. In TCM the impure water collected by the Kidneys that cannot be used by the body is sent to the Bladder for storage and excretion as urine. The Spleen on the other hand assists with digestion, blood coagulation and fluid metabolism in the body. The Liver is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and body fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.

Research on chicory

In a study on rats, hepatic glucose-6-phosphatase activity (Glc-6-Pase) was markedly reduced by an ethanolic extract of Cichorium intybus (CIE) when compared to the control group. The reduction in the hepatic Glc-6-Pase activity could decrease hepatic glucose production, which in turn results in lower concentration of blood glucose in CIE-treated diabetic rats. In conclusion, Cichorium intybus could ameliorate diabetic state.1

Root extracts of Cichorium intybus have anti-hepatotoxic effects (i.e. protective effects on liver cells).2

Sources:

1. P.N. Pushparaj, H.K. Low, J. Manikandan, B.K.H. Tan, C.H. Tan (2007). Anti-diabetic effects of Cichorium intybus in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 111, Issue 2, Pages 430-434. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2006.11.028.

2. Rasheeduz Zafar, S. Mujahid Ali (1998). Anti-hepatotoxic effects of root and root callus extracts of Cichorium intybus L. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 63, Issue 3, Pages 227-231. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-8741(98)00087-7.