It can be found very easily in the European continent, but also in Asia, Africa and in many areas of the American continent: we are talking about chicory, which is one of those herbaceous plants that are characterized by being annals, even if in some cases they can be biennial. or perennial.
One of the main characteristics that can be noticed after taking a fleeting look at the plant, is certainly represented by the fact that there is a rhizome that develops on a tap root, with a typically tapered shape and which is distinguished by having a white color in the part. more internal.
Chicory can boast of leaves that have a mainly variable shape in relation to the height at which they are located, in addition to the fact that the period in which they dry corresponds essentially to the summer season.
On the contrary, all those leaves that are positioned along the stem of the chicory plant have an enveloping arrangement and have the particular characteristic of not having a petiole.
The stem of the chicory plant is also characterized by developing a particularly thin stem, which is just over one meter in height.
First of all, it is important to understand which parts of the chicory plant are used: these are the leaves and the flowers, but the roots play a really fundamental role.
The roots of the chicory plant must be harvested, in most cases, during the autumn season, obtaining them from plants that are at least two years old.
Following the harvesting operation, it is necessary to clean the roots, as well as to divide them and dry them in a particularly sunny place, and then keep them in a cloth bag.
The leaves of the chicory plant must be harvested, however, during the month of August until the final part of September: the subsequent operation will correspond to their drying inside closed, dark places, with good ventilation and particularly hot.
The chicory plant has the particular characteristic of presenting a high number of extremely interesting substances inside.
For example, within chicory we can find inulin, but also chicorin (which is nothing but a bitter glycoside), mucilage, resins, essential oils and even pectins.
We must not forget, then, that other substances are also present inside the chicory plant, such as arsenic, sugars, levulin, terpenes, mineral salts such as magnesium, potassium, copper and iron.
Finally, within the chicory we also find vitamins, such as B, C, P, K, but also amino acids and lipids.
The part of the chicory plant that is most exploited undoubtedly corresponds to the leaves, which can be eaten raw, inside a salad, but can also be taken a little blanched, especially due to the fact that they allow you to carry out a excellent stimulating action of the intestinal system.
Similarly, chicory leaves are able to be particularly effective, from the point of view of stimulating action, also against the liver and kidneys.
Finally, we must not forget how the leaves are also characterized by carrying out a purifying, diuretic, in some cases even laxative and hypoglycemic action.
The decoction obtained from the whole plant is considered extremely effective as regards the treatment of all those situations of inappetence and constipation that are caused by liver problems: in this way, it is easy to understand how chicory proves to be an excellent ally for regarding liver protection.
Another part of the chicory plant that is used quite frequently is represented by the roots, which are consumed especially in cases where it is necessary to combat anorexia, but also to counter biliary insufficiency and hyperglycemia.
The roots of the chicory plant are excellent for carrying out an antidiabetic action, since they are able to lower the blood sugar level.
It has also been scientifically proven that taking an infusion of chicory is able to perform a calming action against thirst, in all cases of diabetes and also manages to perform a regularizing action on the urinary system.
As for internal use, chicory root is certainly a good solution for the treatment of redness (to be exploited as a poultice therefore), but it is also able to perform a refreshing and emollient action and is extremely effective to combat boils and abscesses.
As for still other solutions for internal use, it is important to underline the good "references" of the decoction of chicory root, which proves to be a good laxative and also has a purifying function for the whole organism, as well as being an excellent choleretic and antidiabetic.