Chicory root extract supplement benefit by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
April 4 2015

Chicory - Cichorium intybus - contains an important fructan polysaccharide inulin. See the herb link for additional topics.

Now Foods Inulin Fiber

Prebiotic Colon Support Powder
Vegetarian Formula
Inulin Fiber - A Dietary Supplement

NOW foods Inulin is a fructooligosaccharide derived from Chicory roots and other natural sources of inulin. As a prebiotic, Inulin fiber stimulates the growth of friendly and healthy intestinal bacteria which supports good colon health. Since it also has a very low glycemic index, it is suitable for many people who are on restricted diets. Add it to your favorite beverage or food. Its taste is comparable to sugar and can be used as a sugar replacer.

Chemical Composition
Chicory has many compounds, and a few may have anti-cholinesterase activity.

Chemical composition of aerial parts of chicory
Fresh aerial parts of different chicory varieties: green chicory (Catalogna), two red chicory varieties ("radicchio rosso di Chioggia" and "radicchio rosso di Treviso"), and Witloof or Belgian endive were analyzed. The chromatographic fingerprint was diagnostic for each variety. A monocaffeoyl tartaric acid, chlorogenic acid, and chicoric acid were detected in all the varieties, while cyanidin 3-O-glucoside, delphinidin 3-O-(6'' malonyl) glucoside, and cyanidin 3-O-(6'' malonyl) glucoside were the main phenolic compounds in the red varieties.

Chicory and Inulin
A pilot study in humans has demonstrated that BeneoTM oligofructose, a prebiotic ingredient from the chicory root, can act as a trigger limiting hunger feeling and energy intake. Research in animal models previously found that metabolites originating from the fermentation of BeneoTM oligofructose in the colon are likely to be involved in the mechanism. Oligofructose fermentation modulates the release of gut hormones in the blood which act as signalling agents to the brain influencing appetite and ultimately food intake.

Effect of chicory products with different inulin content on rat caecum physiology.
J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr. 2006. Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Olsztyn, Poland.
A 4-week experiment carried out on rats addressed the analysis of physiological properties of model casein diets supplemented with 5% cellulose or different preparations of chicory roots: flour, pulp, high- and low-molecular inulin. Of all preparations, only pulp did not induce the hypertrophy of caecum walls or an increase in the bulk of caecal digesta. Chicory preparations lowered caecal pH and ammonia concentration (except low molecular inulin) preparation), evoked increased hydration of caecal digesta and protein content. The highest concentration of volatile fatty acids (VFA) was observed in rats fed a diet containing chicory pulp and high molecular inulin, whereas the lowest VFA concentration was reported after the administration of a low molecular inulin -containing diet.  A distinct increase in intestinal wall and intestinal digesta, as well as the highest production of VFA and the lowest pH of caecal digesta indicate that chicory flour ingested to a semi-synthetic diet had the most profitable effect on the functioning of rat caecum, compared with other chicory products. Compared with the high molecular inulin, the preparation of low molecular inulin increased caecal wall hypertrophy without increasing VFA production, still simultaneously increasing ammonia content and pH of caecal digesta, decreasing the total cholesterol concentration and increasing HDL content in serum.

Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2014. Chicory extract's influence on gut bacteria of abdominal obesity rat. Chicory treatment effect on abdominal obesity is significant. The mechanism in relation to abdominal obesity may be due to the reduction of the number of lactic acid bacteria and E. coli and the increase of bifidobacteria.

Chicory and Parasite
The use of chicory for parasite control in organic ewes and their lambs.
Parasitology. 2006 Animal Nutrition and Health Department, Scottish Agricultural College, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, UK.
The aim of the present study was to investigate the potential benefits of grazing lactating ewes and their lambs on chicory (Cichorium intybus). Fifty-six certified organic twin-rearing ewes were either drenched with an anthelmintic or not, within 2 days after parturition and were grazed upon either grass / clover or chicory pastures. Around 12 weeks after parturition a subset of 12 lambs per treatment was slaughtered for worm number and parasite species determination. The faecal egg counts of lambs from undrenched ewes grazing on chicory were significantly lower than those of lambs from undrenched ewes grazing on grass. Lambs grazing on chicory had similar abomasal worm counts as those grazing on grass at 12 weeks of age; the predominant species was Teladorsagia circumcincta. There was no difference between the intestinal worm counts in lambs grazing on grass or chicory, with Trichostrongylus vitrinus being the predominant species. Liveweight gains over the 126-day experimental period were significantly higher in lambs from drenched than those from undrenched ewes. Lambs from undrenched ewes grazing on chicory had higher liveweight gains compared to those from undrenched ewes grazing on grass. Although chicory grazing did not affect ewe nematode egg excretion, it resulted in lower egg counts in lambs and improved their liveweight gains to the same level as those deriving from drenched ewes.

Q. I've read on your site that inulin is often derived from chicory roots. I'm wondering how much inulin I would get if I took about 1 tbsp of chicory as I often take that much and easily could.
   A. It's a good question, we don't know for sure, but some estimates are that about a third of chicory root is inulin although we need more data to be confident.

Q. I was reading your site re inulin, and wonder if you could tell me if a supplement that says it contains 100% inulin from chicory would be safe for someone with gluten intolerance.
   A. To the best of my knowledge, chicory root does not have gluten. But you may wish to ask the manufacturer directly to find out if their product is 100 percent gluten free.