Chicory root coffee/tea benefits and Side effects

What is chicory coffee?

Chicory (Cichorium intybus) is a perennial herb of the Asteraceae family. Its roots can be used as a tea. The main property of chicory tea is that it is caffeine-free, gluten-free and good for the person who is allergic to caffeinated drinks with lots of health benefits than normal coffee. Chicory coffee is a tasty natural healthy beverage obtained from chicory root when boiled (remove bitter taste), dried, roasted, soaked in water or citric acid solution, ground and brewed into a coffee-like drink. Nowadays Bru and Nescafe cut down on the caffeine content by blending up to 30% of chicory with coffee and very famous as a substitute for coffee in France and Japan. Chicory root coffeeb enefits are thus as follows

Aroma Components in chicory coffee or tea

Chicory root contains rotundone, which gives coffee or tea a bitter and slightly sweet taste as well as aromatic woody, peppery, like odorant. It also contains sotolon and dihydromaltol as well as malty smelling Strecker aldehydes, which exhibit caramel and sweet-smelling aroma (1).

Geographical distribution

Chicory is cultivated throughout the world, including South Africa but has its origins in Europe, Central Russia, Western Asia, and also found in Egypt and North America

Common name

Chicory (English), Kasani (Sanskrit), Succory, Hendibeh or Witloof, Intubus or Intubum (by Roman), Hinduba (by Arabs), Blue Dandelion (USA). Chicory is also known by other names such as Cichorium, Chreston (useful), Pancration (all-powerful)  Ambubara or Ambubeia (full of odors), Blue sailors, Coffee weed, Cornflower, Wild Chicory, Wild succory, Garden endive, Garden chicory, Endive, Blue daisy,  Blue weed, Bunk,  Horseweed, Ragged sailors, Wild bachelor’s Buttons, and Wild endive.

Uses of Chicory herb

The leaves and flowers are usually used as vegetables in salads. The roots are used as a coffee substitute, livestock feedstuff, or pet food. Chicory juice, Chicory root powder from crude extract, fermented product as chicory root pickle, use of chicory flour in muffins as sugar and fat replacement. Chicory extracts are sometimes added to alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages to improve taste, while the inulin rich tuberous roots can be converted to alcohol.

Medicinal importance of Chicory herb

In South Africa, chicory syrup is useful as a tonic and purifying medicine for infants and renal diseases. It has been used for the treatment of fever, diarrhea, spleen enlargement, jaundice, liver enlargement, gout, and rheumatism in India. Whereas in China, it is valued for its tonic effects upon the liver and digestive tract. The juice made of leaves and a tea made from the blooming plant help the release of gallstones, elimination of internal mucus, and production of bile.


Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used chicory as raw materials for the manufacture of tea or coffee. Chicory coffee gained popularity in the Napoleonic era (ca. 1808) during the Second World War because of a major coffee shortage. In the United States, the practice of consuming chicory coffee began in Louisiana due to the coffee shortage.

Main constitute of chicory tea or coffee

Chicory root contains some phytochemicals such as inulin (starch-like polysaccharide), coumarins, flavonoids, sesquiterpene lactones (lactucin and lactucopicrin), tannins, alkaloids, vitamins, minerals, and volatile oils. It also contains secondary metabolites (flavonoids, tannins, and coumarins) which exhibit biological activities such as antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antiparasitic, antihepatotoxic, and many more.

Presence of Inulin fructans in chicory roots

Chicory roots contain inulin fructans (up to 20%). This is a type of soluble dietary fibers having low or no caloric value. Up to 20 g/day of inulin fiber is considered safe. It helps in improving the structure and/or taste and total fiber intake, replace fats or carbohydrates, and thus acts as a prebiotic. Inulin improves gut bacteria, bowel habits, and bowel function in constipated person, improve colonic mineral absorption (Ca and Mg), and secretion of satiety hormones. It also improves blood lipids, bone mineral content, the immune system, and energy homeostasis (2).

Health benefit of Chicory tea/coffee

1. Healthy for heart

Chicory coffee is a rich source of plant phenolics, including caffeic acid, which inhibits platelet aggregation by the reduction in plasma and whole blood viscosity and activity of proinflammatory cytokine (that cause inflammation). Therefore intake of chicory coffee (300 mL per day for 1 week) acts as an antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory agent that treats red blood cell deformability (hemolytic anemia), prevents blood clot formation and inflammation (3).

2. Reduce or delay the development of diabetes and its complications

Intake of chicory prevents body-weight loss, decreases blood sugar level, triacylglycerol, total cholesterol, HbA1c level. It also improves bowel function therefore chicory may be useful as a natural dietary supplement for slowing down the rate of diabetes progress, and delaying the development of its complications (4).

3. Effect on mood and cognitive performance

Intake of chicory tea and coffee which contain inulin (5 gm), feel happier, improve mood, digestion, memory, and reduce appetite as well as improve episodic memory (recall and recognition) (5).

4. Anti-inflammatory properties

Intake of chicory coffee act as an anti-inflammatory agent which inhibit various cytokines, improve antioxidant effects, and remove harmful radicals from the body (6).

Side effects of chicory as a coffee substitute

Research studies proved that long-term consumption of chicory coffee or tea did not associate with diabetes risk. But it causes some other adverse effects like allergy etc (7).

1. Presence of toxic compound

Chicory contains a high amount of beta-carbolines, undesirable components as well as other bioactive compounds due to heat treatment (8).

2. Risk of Allergy

Chicory can trigger reactions in people who are allergic to ragweed pollen or sensitive to related plants, including chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and other members of the Asteraceae/Compositae plant family

3. Risk in pregnancy

If you are pregnant should not consume chicory coffee because due to lack of study no one knows the long-term effect of chicory coffee in human pregnancy (9).

4. Risk of occupational rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma

The person who is working in a factory producing inulin from chicory has developed rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma. The dust of dry chicory roots, raw fruits, and vegetables causes oral allergy (10).

5. Risk of contact anaphylaxis

Chicory causes generalized pruritus, facial erythema, and dyspnea, as well as chronic eczema thus precaution, should be needed (11).


Chicory coffee is caffeine-free, less expensive, energy-consuming, and doesn’t contain volatile oils. Therefore it is useful as a coffee substitute which makes it healthier than regular coffee (12).





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