Chicory is well known as a substitute of coffee. The dried roots of the plant are used for this purpose. Chicory has distinct taste but does not contain any caffeine. In 19th-20th centuries, it was used alone but later on it was added to coffee powder or the coffee substitute mixtures. For preparing Chicory powder, the fresh roots are collected and dried. The dried roots are roasted and ground to form powder.
Chicory is a medicinal plant. All parts of the plant specially root and leaves are used as diuretic, laxative, antipyretic, detoxifying and liver tonic. It has been used in Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha system of medicine for treating diseases of hepatobiliary (liver and bile) and renal system, like washing kidney-bladder, liver diseases, jaundice, hepatitis etc.
In India, Chicory is commonly known as Kasni. It is not mentioned in classical Ayurvedic texts.
In Unani Tibbi, it is known as Hindba and Kasni, and used to prepared Sharbat-e-Kasni and Arq Kasni. It is given to treat fluid accumulation in body, jaundice, hepatitis, fever, and kidney disorders. In jaundice, Unani preparation, Sharbat-e-Kasni is taken in dose of 25ml with water twice daily.
The Chicory plant is native to the temperate parts of the World and is cultivated in many countries. It is an erect woody perennial herb, around 1 m in height with a fleshy taproot of up to 75 cm in length and large basal leaves and smaller upper leaves. It can bear extreme temperatures during both vegetative and reproductive growth stage. It has azure blue flowers. Its roots resemble those of dandelions. The Chicory root stump are dug before the flowering.
The tap roots are the most commonly used part of the plant. The root is fleshy and tapering, wrinkled longitudinally, and brown on the outside. The root has bitter and mucilaginous taste.
The botanical name of Chicory/ Kasni is Cichorium intybus. It belongs to plant family Asteraceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.
- Kingdom- Plantae – Plants
- Subkingdom- Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
- Superdivision- Spermatophyta – Seed plants
- Division- Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
- Class- Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
- Subclass- Asteridae
- Order- Asterales
- Family- Asteraceae ⁄ Compositae – Aster family
- Genus- Cichorium L. – Chicory
- Species- Cichorium intybus L. – Chicory
- Latin name- Cichorium intybus L. var. foliosum Hegi
- Cichorium intybus L. var. sativum (Bisch.) Janch.
- Duration- Biennial Perennial
- Growth Habit- herb
Geographical distribution- The plant is native to the temperate parts of the World and is found wild in Punjab and Andhra Pradesh regions. It is also cultivated in Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa and Kerala.
The major producing countries of chicory are the United Kingdom, Belgium, Europe, France, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and South Africa. Habitat- Native to Europe;In India, it occurs in North-west India, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
In India, its seeds are sown in October-November in plains and during March-April in hills.
Varieties- There are two varieties of plant, a cultivated sweet variety and the wild bitter variety.
Roots are fleshy, tapering, stem 1-3 long angled and grooved, branches rigid spreading, leaf nerves, beneath, hispid leaves ablong lanceolate, upper cordate amplexical. Head 1-1/2” diameter, peduncles thickened in the middle, involucre bracts herbaceous, ligules bright blue, rarely white or pink.
The dried fruit and seed is yellowish brown in colour, and 1-3 mm in length and 1-2 mm in breath, and 1mm in thickness triangle shaped and has characteristic odour.
- Ayurvedic- Kaasani, Hinduba, Kasni
- Unani- Kaasani Dashti (Barri)
- Siddha- Kasinikkeerai
- Indian local name- Banya Kaasnee
- Unani- Beikh kasni (roots)
- English- Chicory, Indian Endive
- Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati- Kashi, Kaasni, Kssni, Hinduba
- Malayalam- Cikkari
- Jammu- Kashni, Lishkan
- Punjabi- Gul, hand, kasni, suchal
- Tamil- Kasinivirai, Kashni
- Telugu- Cicori, Kasini, Vittulu
- Tehran- Tukhm-i-kasni, Klshah-i-kasni (roots), Tukhme Kasni (seed), Aab Berg-e-kasni sabz (leaf juice)
- Persia- Cichorii
- Arabic- Hindubar, Indyba
- Baluchistan- Zral
- Chinese- Ku-T’ Sail
- German- Zichorie
- Greek- Kichora, Kikori
- Urdu- Kasani
- Trade name- Chickory
Ayurvedic Properties and Action of Chicory
Rasa (taste on tongue)-
- Tikta (Bitter)
- Guna (Pharmacological Action)- Laghu (Light), Ruksha (Dry)
- Virya- Sita (Cooling)
- Vipaka (transformed state after digestion)- Katu (Pungent)
- Pacifies Pitta and Kapha
- Gives relief in pain, burning sensation and swelling
- Deepana दीपन (promote appetite but do not aid in digesting undigested food)
- Good for heart
Kasni is of two kinds Wild and Cultivated. In Unani, the cultivated variety is called as Bustani, Hindba e Shami-o-Hashmi-o-Balaqhi and wild variety is called as Dashti, Hindba e Baqhal and Tarakhshaqaq.
Both the varieties bear broad leaves near stem and thin leaves above. Cultivated variety is relatively more cold and moist.
According to Unani System of Medicine it removes the visceral, hepatic and vascular obstruction. It is a good but not very strong astringent. It is used as plaster in case of gout.
The latex of the wild variety removes opacity of the cornea. Purging cassia is dissolved in its juice and used as gargle in pharyngitis. It relieves nausea and counteracts the ill effects of excessive yellow bile, it strengthens the heart.
The wild endive is better than the cultivated variety for stomach diseases, endive is said to be suitable for all kinds of temperaments of the liver, the drug is particularly suitable for hot tempered livers, and however it is not harmful to cold tempered organs unlike some cold vegetables.
Kasni is used as saag (vegetable) and juice of whole plant extract and sheera of its seeds useful in kidney’s hot temperament.
- Mohallile Auram (Resolvant) roots
- Mudir bol (Diuretic) seeds
- Musakkin Hararat (Febrile sedative) green leaf
- Musaffi Dam (Blood purifier) leaf
- Mufatteh (Deobstruent) roots, seeds
- Muqavvi Jiger (Liver tonic) Whole plant
- Munzij Sauda (Melancholic concoctive) roots
- Munaqie gurda (clears the urinary tract and renal tubules)
- Rikhv baa Ifrat (Most flexible)
Constituents of Kasni
Chicory herb contains inulin in the root, sesquiterpene lactones (including lactucin and lactucopicrin), coumarins (chicoriin, esculetin, esculin, umbelliferone and scopoletin), and series of glucofructosans.
Raw Chicory root contains only citric and tartaric acids whereas the roasted contains acetic, lactic, pyruvic, pyromucic, palmitic and tartaric acids.
Leaves of the plant contain salts such as sulphates and phosphates of sodium, magnesium and potassium as well as potassium nitrate. It also contains a bitter glycoside named cichorine.
Analysis of the seeds shows oil 4.7%, Fatty acid composition, Saturated 21.7%, Unsaturated 78.3%.
Important Medicine containing Kaasni
- Live 52 Himalaya (for liver care)
- Jigreen Hamdard (for liver care)
- Arq Kasni
- Sharbat Bazoori
- Sikanjbeen Bazoori
- Majun Dabidul Ward
- Sharbat Dinar
Dosage of Kasni herb
- Leaf juice- 12-24 ml
- Root powder- 3-6 gram
- Powder of seeds- 3-6 gram
Medicinal Properties of Chicory
- Abortifacient- causes abortion.
- Antimicrobial- active against microbes.
- Anthelmintic- expel parasitic worms (helminths) and other internal parasites from the body.
- Analgesic- acting to relieve pain.
- Antimalarial- effective against malaria.
- Antidiabetic- control blood sugar levels.
- Antiulcer- tending to prevent or heal ulcers.
- Anti-inflammatory- reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms.
- Analgesic- pain relief.
- Cholagogue- promotes the discharge of bile from the system, purging it downward.
- Diuretic- promoting excretion of urine/agent that increases the amount of urine excreted.
- Demulcent- relieving inflammation or irritation.
- Emmenagogue- stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus.
- Gastroprotective- protects gastric mucosa.
- Hepatoprotective- prevent damage to the liver.
- Hypoglycemic- blood-sugar lowering.
- Hypocholesterolemic- Lowers the cholesterol.
- Hypolipidemic- lipid-lowering
- Laxative- tending to stimulate or facilitate evacuation of the bowels.
- Sedative- promoting calm or inducing sleep.
- Prebiotic- promoting the growth of beneficial intestinal microorganisms.
- Tonic- Restore or improve health or well-being.
Health Benefits of Kasni
Whole Kasni herb has liver tonic action and tone up the liver. It produce moderate temperament in liver and improve function of liver. It is effective against jaundice, hepatitis, liver congestion, enlargement of liver and other liver and spleen disorders.
- It stimulate and protects liver.
- It is increase flow of bile.
- It cleanses kidney-bladder and removes toxins from body.
- The roots reduce inflammation, remove the obstruction in form of thick or sticky secretion or any other form.
- It stimulates urine production.
- It contains up to 40% inulin, and has a negligible impact on blood sugar and thus is suitable for diabetes.
- It is cooling in action and reduces heat and high temperature.
- It is gentle laxative and gives relief in constipation.
- It has arteriosclerosis, antiarthritis, antispasmodic, digestive and depurative properties.
- The seeds increase activity of kidney either by irritation or by increase filtration. Seeds are Deobstruent.
- The leaf juice gives relief in fever, detoxifies blood.
Use of Chicory/ Kasni
As a coffee substitute- Commercially the roots of plant are used to produce coffee substitute. It is also used extensively in coffee blends.
Extraction of Inulin- The roots are used to extract inulin. Inulin belongs to a category of carbohydrates known as fructans and composed of a series of oligo- and polysaccharides of fructose. It is starch but has less caloric value. It is source of dietary fiber.
Some of the benefits of inulin include modulation of microbial fermentation, reducing fat and cholesterol absorption, lowering LDL and increasing HDL. It is a prebiotic.
Inulin is indigestible in the gastrointestinal tract and but fermented by the colonic microflora. Thus it increase fecal biomass and water content of the stools. It improves bowel habits and gives relief in constipation.
As vegetable- The leaves of Chicory plant is used fresh or cooked.
The leaves of young plants are used as pot-herbs and cooked like spinach. Leaves of older plants, when blanched, were used like celery. It is eaten as a green for salads.
Medicinal Uses- The plant is used medicinally to treat variety of ailments for centuries around the world.
Medicinal Use of Chicory
The cultivated chicory plant is used as a liver tonic. It is indicated in enlargement of the liver (hepatomegaly), jaundice inflammations, anorexia, dyspepsia, diarrhea, flatulence, colic, vitiated conditions of kapha and pitta, headache, gout, burning sensation, allergic conditions of skin, insomnia, skin diseases, leprosy, chronic and bilious fevers, vomiting, asthma and general debility.
The plant is bitter, acrid, anti-inflammatory, appetizer, digestive, stomachic, cholagogue, cardio tonic, depurative, diuretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge and tonic. The root of chicory is used in jaundice, liver enlargement, gout, rheumatism also used as vegetable. Seeds of chicory are carminative and cholagogue.
Liver tonic, Diseases of liver
- Whole Kasni herb has liver protecting properties. It protects liver from damage.
- The decoction of roots is used in jaundice, enlargement of liver, Kidney disorders. It improves appetite.
- The tea prepared from the leaves, stems, and roots are used in treatment of liver disorders such as jaundice due to its hepatoprotective properties.
- In jaundice, the fine powder of equal parts of Kasni seeds, Mulethi (Liquorice) and Kala Namak (Black salt) are mixed and this powder is given in dose of then take 3g with water twice daily.
- Another remedy for jaundice, is to crush the fresh plant of Makoi and Kasni to extract the juice. This juice is heated and during the boiling stage, 1 gram Naushadar (Ammonium chloride) is added for removing the foams. It is filtered. After filtration about 60ml this preparation juice taken before meal.
The decoction of seeds is used to induce period.
The tea prepared from the roots gives relief in bloating, abdominal fullness, flatulence, and slow digestion.
Pain in body, joints, constipation
As a home remedy, a tea like preparation of the Chicory leaves and flower is prepared. For this purpose, 1/4 cup of leaves and flowers are soaked in one cup boiling water and brewed for 5-10 minutes.
This simple tea shows beneficial effects in pain in body-joint, gout, rheumatism, and constipation. This preparation can also be given to children to treat constipation in dose of half cup.
Joint pain, Insect bite
The paste of leaves is applied externally for painful joints and on insect bites.
The roots boiled and mixed with sirka/ vinegar used as gargle helps in tooth sensitivity.
- Toxicological Studies done on Chicory concluded it is safe for human use.
- Ingestion of 100 g may cause slight bradycardia (abnormally slow heart action).
- People who are hypersensitive to Chicory and other Asteraceae plants should not use this.
- It has emmenagogue action and used to promote periods therefore it should not be used during pregnancy.
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