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Chicory

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Chicory is botanically named as Cichorium intybus. It is an erect, somewhat woody, perennial herbaceous plant with bright blue flowers. It is also grown as a forage crop for livestock. It lives as a wild plant on roadsides in its native Europe, and in North America and Australia, where it has become naturalized.
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Botanical Names
Cichorium intybus
Indian Names
Sanskrit : Kasani Hindi : Kasani Tamil : Kasini Keerai Marathi : Kachani Malayalam : Chikkari Telugu : Kasini, Kasini-vittulu Kannada : Chikory
Chemical Constituents
Chicorium intybus is one of the earliest known and most widely used raw materials for the manufacture of coffee substitutes. The major component of chicory root is inulin which is a polymer of fructose with glycosidic linkages (1). The chemical analysis of Cichorium intybus reveals the presence of several compounds and few of them were identified as alpha-amyrin, taraxerone, baurenyl acetate and beta-sitosterol (2). The whole plant contains a number of medicinally important compounds such as inulin, esculin, volatile compounds (monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes), coumarins, flavonoids and vitamins (3) The tuberous root of this plant contains number of medicinally important compounds such as inulin, bitter sesquiterpene lactones, coumarins, flavonoids and vitamins. Chicory is a medicinal plant contains bitter-tasting sesquiterpene lactones. The most abundant ones, lactucin, 8-desoxylactucin and lactucopicrin, and their 11, 13- dihydroderivatives are based on a guanine skeleton. Of these, lactucopicrin and dihydro lactucopicrin are bitterer than quinine hydrochloride. Roots of the plant elaborate eudesmanolides, germacranolides and guaianolides, accumulated mainly as glycosides.
Pesticide Limits
A limit for pesticide is one of the major issues in standardization of medicinal plants and products in view of the worldwide widespread use of pesticides in cultivated plants. The presence of pesticides in extracts increase the health risk by many folds. The pesticides can be extremely irritant on skin as well as in the internal organs, it is essential to monitor its concentration as a part of GMP. Various analytical methods for the quantitative determination of pesticides by gas chromatography coupled with mass-spectrophotometer are in use. Konark Research Foundation (KRF), a NABL certified lab is well equipped with the latest technology and instruments and monitors the pesticide limit as part of its GMP.
Chromatographic Profile
From the pharmacopoeial perspective, a better quality control of raw material can be achieved by specifying quantitative test procedure for the determination of the range or a minimum content of the active ingredient or marker substances. A chromatographic finger profile represents qualitative/ quantitative determination of various components present in a complex plant extract, irrespective whether or not their exact identity is known. Thin layer chromatographic technique is the simplest and least expensive method that provides plenty of information on the composition of raw herbs and its preparation. For quantitative analysis of active ingredients or marker substances with simultaneous separation and detection High Pressure liquid chromatography is the best technique. We use the latest model of HPLC for all its analysis.
Limits of Impurities
A test requirement for foreign organic matter would ensure the extent of contamination of extraneous matters such as filth and other parts of botanicals not covered by the definition of the herbal drug. Since sand and soil are predictable contaminants of botanicals, test requirements for ‘total ash’, water soluble ash’, ‘acid soluble ash’, residue on ignition and sulphated ash would be expected to limit such contaminants. Test requirement for heavy metals in botanical raw material are probably more relevant for parts of plants growing under ground than for the aerial parts of the plant. The presence of high levels of minerals interacts with the final product there by affecting its keeping quality.
Microbial Limits
If the raw herbs are to be used directly without boiling in water prior to consumption, restrictive limits on microbial contaminants are required for pathogens such as Salmonella sp. Enterobacter and E. coli which are causative agent for various gastrointestinal diseases. A lower level of yeasts and molds and a limit on total aerobes are considered appropriate in plant material for topical use. The presence of aflatoxins detected by chemical means is generally independent of the number of viable molds that are detected using microbiological methods. Aflatoxins in microgram quantity are capable of giving serious hypersensitivity reactions which can be extremely harmful to human health.
Pharmacology
Chicory is native to the Mediterranean region, mid Asia and northern Africa. Historically, chicory was grown by the ancient Egyptians as a medicinal plant and coffee substitute (5). The tuberous root of this plant contains number of medicinally important compounds such as inulin and bitter sesquiterpene lactones. The plant root is used as anti hepatotoxic, anti ulcerogenic, anti inflammatory, appetizer, liver tonic, cardio tonic, and also as a tonic. Recent pharmacological investigation of the root extract of this plant revealed immuno modulator, antitumor and anticancer properties. Cichorium intybus possesses antibacterial and antifungal properties. It inhibited the growth of zoophilic and anthropophilic dermatophytes, in particular Trichophyton tonsurans var. sulfureum. The sesquiterpene lactones such as lactucin and lactucopicrin were isolated from chicory and reported for its antibacterial and antifungal activity. The antifungal activity of chicory was also reported. (3). In preclinical studies Cichorium intybus was found to be effective against chlorpromazine-induced hepatic damage in adult albino rats. Cichorium intybus possess significant hepato-protective activity in comparison to standard drug Silymarin. Studies suggest that the observed hepato-protective effect of these crude plant extracts may be due to their ability to suppress the oxidative degradation of DNA in the tissue debris (6). The hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic properties of Cichorium intybus can be used as a traditional treatment for diabetes mellitus. Hypoglycemic effects were observed in an oral glucose tolerance test. 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 (7). It also enhances calcium absorption in rats and improves femur and tibia mineral contents in gastrectomized or ovariectomized rats (8). Root extracts of Cichorium intybus showed more inhibitory action on Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella typhi than Micrococcus luteus and Escherichia coli. Some of the guaianolides isolated from C. intybus possess cytotoxic activity towards cultured cancer cells.
Health Benefits
It was believed that the plant could purify the blood and liver, while others have relied on the herb for its power to cure passions of the heart. Chicory continues to be a popular herbal remedy due to its healing effects on several ailments. Chicory is taken internally for loss of appetite, jaundice, gallstones, gout and rheumatism. In addition, the leaves of chicory may also be used as compresses to be applied externally to ease skin inflammations and swellings. As a mild diuretic, it increases the elimination of fluid from the body, leading to its use as a treatment for rheumatism and gout. The root and the leaves are appetizer, cholagogue, depurative, digestive, diuretic, hypoglycaemic, laxative and tonic. It favors blood circulation by making blood more fluid and allowing it a better travel through vein and arteries. Accordingly it has been used as ayurvedic medicine for gall and liver disturbances. It forms an important component of several important liver preparations in India
Research References
1. MEEHYE K.AND HYUN K.The Water-Soluble Extract of Chicory Reduces Glucose uptake from the Perfused Jejunum in Rats1'2 J. Nutr. 126: 2236-2242, 1996. 2. Du H.,Yuan S. and Jiang P. Chemical constituents of Cichorium intybus LZhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 1998 Nov;23(11):682-3, 704. 3. Nandagopal S. and Ranjitha Kumari B. D. Stress Physiology and Medicinal Plant Biotechnology Unit, Phytochemical and Antibacterial Studies of Chicory(Cichorium intybus L.) - A Multipurpose Medicinal PlantAdvances in Biological Research 1 (1-2): 17-21, 2007 4. Janusz M., Anna S. and Wanda K. Sesquiterpene Lactones in a Hairy Root Culture of Cichorium intybus Z. Naturforsch.(57): 994-997 (2002) 5. Wang. Quanzhen. and Cui J. Perspectives and utilization technologies of chicory(Cichorium intybus L.): A review African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 10(11), pp. 1966-1977, 14 March, 2011 6.Study of Hepatoprotective Activity of Solanum nigrum and Cichorium intybus Subash K. R., Ramesh K. S., Binoy V. C., Francis B., Jagan Rao N. and S. Vijaykumar International Journal of Pharmacology 7(4):504-509 7. Pushparaj P. N., Low H. K. Manikandan J., Tan B. K. H. and Tan C. H. Ethnopharmacological communication Anti-diabetic effects of Cichorium intybus in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2007 111(2):430-434 8. Marcel B. R., Cumps J. and Devogelaer J. P. Dietary Chicory Inulin Increases Whole-Body Bone Mineral Density in Growing Male Rats J. Nutr. 2002, 132: 3599–3602, 9. Petrovic J., Stanojkovic A., Comic L. and S. Curcic Antibacterial activity of Cichorium intybus Fitoterapia 2004, 75(7-8):737-739