Chicory Root: Uses and Concerns for Health

Chicory Root: Uses and Concerns for Health

Herbal remedies are becoming more popular every day throughout the world.  Chicory root in particular is being used in more cooking, supplements, and medications.  This root has some potential side effects, but overall it is a great food with many health benefits.  Chicory root extract is the best source of the nutrients found in this plant.

What is chicory root extract?

An extract can be made from the chicory root in a few simple steps.  First, it must be chopped into small pieces and then dried.  Then it should be placed in a jar and covered in alcohol (Vodka works great).  Cover the top of the jar with plastic wrap or a plastic bag, then secure the lid tightly.  Shake the contents and let it sit for up to six weeks, shaking the contents up again every three days or so (and adding more alcohol if necessary).  Finally, strain the root thoroughly and place the resulting liquid into containers.

Health Benefits of Chicory Root

Liver Health

Using chicory root extract can improve the functioning of the liver.  It contains many antioxidants, relieving stress on the liver and preventing damage in some situations as well.

End Constipation

This root acts as a light laxative, allowing the body to pass stool more easily.  Inulin is one of the main elements of chicory root, which is a form of fiber.  Plant fiber in itself is known to help with constipation.  It also helps digest food more rapidly.

Joint Health

Various joint problems, such as osteoarthritis, can be treated with chicory root extract.  The plant acts as an anti-inflammatory agent with no significant side effects.  While there is no confirmed scientific proof that this effect is a result of taking this extract, small scale tests have been done with great results.

Cardiovascular Health

One of the most common and dangerous cardiovascular problems, heart arrhythmias, can be treated by chicory root.  This condition can result in one’s heartbeat becoming too quick or too slow.  In either event, various warning signs can occur including dizziness, fainting, sudden weakness, and chronic fatigue.

Digestive Help

Bile is one of the key components of the digestive system; it is used to break down foods and extract their nutrients, and it uses bad cholesterol in its production.  The use and recycling of bile in the body is boosted by chicory root.  In this sense it is also great for the liver and gallbladder, both of which may develop issues from oversaturation of cholesterol.  The inulin within this root also helps with the digestive system.

Four Warnings for Chicory Root

 

A few side effects for chicory root exist.  Some are minor annoyances, while others are serious concerns.  As always, a doctor can provide better individualized information, so make sure to consult with one if you plan on using chicory root.

Excessive Weight Loss

While some may view weight loss as a benefit, one of the most significant chicory root extract side effects is a sudden rapid loss in body fat and stored energy.  This happens with two simultaneous effects: first, your appetite will be noticeably diminished (in some cases to the point where only half of the normal food is consumed).  Second, the body’s metabolic processes will break down and expel the fat more quickly instead of storing it for later.  Sudden drops in weight are not healthy and should be avoided.  This effect does not occur with all people.

Interference of Heart Medicine

It is speculated that chicory root dampens and sometimes completely nullifies the effects of cardiac medication.  Any herbal supplement or drug may be incompatible with other supplements or drugs, so be sure to consult a doctor before adding anything new to your daily regimen.

Allergic Reactions

Of course, any product can carry allergens as well.  The unique situation with chicory root is that it can interact with birch pollen or cashew shells it produces an extra allergic reaction.  The reaction with cashew shells is far more serious, as it quickly develops toxicity within the bloodstream of the individual.  On a less severe note, chicory may also cause slight dermatitis when it comes into contact with the skin.

Pregnant and Nursing Women

Any woman who is carrying a child or still breastfeeding should absolutely never consume chicory root.  Consuming this root while pregnant could lead to an abortion or birth complications.  Using it during breastfeeding could essentially poison the baby. At any other time, women may also face the added effect of shifting or missing their menstruation period.  This could result in the temporary inability to get pregnant, or alternatively, a pregnancy scare if the period is missed completely.

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Sagar is co-founder and CTO at Multia, a leading creative agency in Pune. He started his venture when he was 16, he has won numerous international and national web development competitions and has worked on 100+ web, mobile and online marketing projects. He’s a globe-trotter and has traveled to San Francisco, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Dubai, Jakarta and Bali Islands.
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