The Medicinal and Medical Uses of Chicory Root

Posted by Fruit Of Spirit on

Want to go decaf naturally? Then the Chicory root is the answer. Usage of Cichorium intybus or the Chicory plant is somewhat still on the way to becoming widespread but research has shown that its roots have various medicinal properties and it is even used for some laboratory tests. This is primarily due to the prebiotic dietary fiber, ‘inulin’; not to be confused with the blood glucose regulating hormone insulin.

Chicory root

Chicory Root and Inulin

Everything great about the chicory root stems from a special dietary fiber for which it possesses in great amounts. The dietary fiber that we are referring to is none other than inulin. Research has shown that Fresh Chicory Root contains 68% inulin by dry weight. Due to the fact that it contains a lot of inulin. Inulin supplements are typically made from Chicory Root extracts.

Inulin is a dietary fiber that is not widely known. It is also known as fructooligosaccharide or fructan and it is an indigestible carbohydrate made out of fructose molecules. Since they are not digested they are either directly stored as glycogen, absorbed and then metabolized through the glycolytic pathway, or utilized by the bacteria in our gut as food. We could therefore say that inulin is a prebiotic because it feeds the ‘good’ bacteria in our gut. Inulin is not the only sole prebiotic dietary fiber, fructooligosaccharides and galactooligosaccharides in general are also considered to be a prebiotic dietary fiber. These prebiotic dietary fibers are commonly present in plant-based foods. And as mentioned, they are utilized by the bacteria that are present in our colon which are capable of fermenting these prebiotic dietary fibers. In inulin’s case, the bifidobacteria are the bacteria that are greatly benefited by this prebiotic dietary fiber. Several studies have been conducted on the benefits of Inulin and the fermentation processes facilitated by the bifidobacterium that it encourages. Some beneficial properties that have been mentioned include anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as mineral absorption and lipid metabolism improvements.

Gastrointestinal health

Like most dietary fibers, inulin has been shown to improve gastrointestinal health. We could say the same thing for Chicory root because it contains a lot of inulin. Dietary fibers, specifically the prebiotic ones, have two ways of improving gastrointestinal health stemming from its indigestible property. First, it acts as a scrub which sweeps wastes from the gastrointestinal tract so that it can be properly disposed-off through defecation. Second, it promotes the growth of ‘good’ bacteria. 

The benefits of Chicory root and its inulin to our gastrointestinal health has been studied through several research. One study compared inulin to maltodextrin intake with regards to its effect on bowel motor function among people suffering from constipation. In this study, 54 adults with constipation were divided into two groups; one group, the experimental group, was given 4g of inulin and the other group, the placebo group, was given 4g of maltodextrin. Each participant in the study was asked to take their assigned supplement three times per day. They were also asked to record their perceived gastrointestinal characteristics, frequency of bowel movements, consistency of their stool, and overall bowel satisfaction. This study lasted for 4 weeks with 44 participants completing the study. Results showed that the respondents in the experimental group exhibited improvements in the frequency of their bowel movement, the consistency of their stool, and bowel satisfaction. The researchers then concluded that inulin was effective in treating constipation. Another study involving 30 adults with low stool frequency separated into two trial groups, group A composed of 10 individuals, and group B composed of 20 individuals, also showed that 10 grams of Chicory inulin taken everyday was capable of improving the participant’s condition. 

Insulin Sensitivity

Emerging research on gut microbiome have revealed interesting insights regarding the connection between the bacteria present in a person’s gut and the individual's health. Several compelling studies have proposed that prebiotic dietary fibers such as inulin have a positive effect on the gut microbiome. In inulin’s case, it has been observed that increased intake favored the growth of the Bifidobacterium longum bacteria. The increased number of Bifidobacterium longum bacteria have been attributed to positive health effects, one of which is improved insulin sensitivity. 

The effect of Inulin on prediabetic patients have been explored in one study which involved 40 prediabetic patients. In this study, the patients were divided into two groups. The experimental group received 30 grams of inulin each day and the placebo group received the same amount of cellulose everyday. The clinical trial lasted for 4 weeks. Fasting insulin and glucose measurements were taken throughout the study. At the end of the study, researchers noted significant improvements in insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels on those participants who were part of the experimental group; the group who received 30 grams of inulin. In conclusion, this study has shown that inulin intake may help prevent diabetes. Another study exploring inulin’s ability to prevent diabetes took a different angle; in this study the researchers investigated its effect on Glycemic Control and Antioxidant Status. However, the study had an inclusion criteria that was limited to women. Other inclusion criteria included a dietary fiber intake of less than 30 gram per day, a body mass index between 25 to 35 kg/m2, and the participants must have type 2 diabetes. 49 females who fit the criteria were chosen and their glycemic control and antioxidant status was assessed before the clinical trial started. They were divided into two groups; 24 women were assigned in the intervention group and received 10 grams of inulin per day and 25 women were assigned in the control group and received 10 grams of maltodextrin per day. The clinical trial lasted for 2 months, and an assessment of the participants’ glycemic control and antioxidant status was assessed at the end. After comparing the participants’ glycemic control and antioxidant status before and after the clinical trial, the researchers noted that those who were in the intervention group experienced a significant reduction in their fasting plasma glucose, malondialdehyde, and glycosylated hemoglobin. Aside from this they also noted improvements in their superoxide dismutase activity and total antioxidant capacity. These results led the researchers to conclude that inulin may improve a female diabetic’s antioxidant status and glycemic control.

Weight Loss

It’s no surprise that Chicory root fiber can lead to weight loss because it is a dietary fiber. To validate the claim that Chicory root fiber can reduce an individual’s weight several research studies and clinical trials regarding its ability to decrease calorie intake and regulate appetite were conducted. One study recruited prediabetic patients with the aim of investigating the effects of inulin on their weight and ectopic fat. Animal studies on fermentable carbohydrates, such as inulin, showed that fermentable carbohydrates are capable of reducing ectopic fat whether the animal lost weight or not; this is the primary reason as to why the researchers are investigating this in humans. The researchers in this study wanted to find out whether inulin can aid in weight maintenance, reduce ectopic fat, and improve appetite control. Also, If inulin does in fact encourage weight loss does it lead to a decrease in liver, muscle and pancreas fat which would ultimately lead to a reduction in the risk of developing diabetes. 44 prediabetic patients were selected to go through an 18-week clinical trial. The participants were divided equally and were randomly assigned to take inulin and cellulose supplements. In the first 9 weeks of the clinical trial, the participants were closely guided by a dietitian so that they could lose 5% of their weight. Throughout the rest of the clinical trial, the participants received no further guidance and was asked to maintain their current weight. Ectopic fat, adipose tissue, insulin level, and blood glucose level were assessed before the clinical trial started, after 9 weeks, and also at the end. When the researchers analyzed their data, they discovered that both groups lost 5% of their original weight after 9 weeks of the clinical trial. This significant weight loss could be attributed to the close guidance by a dietitian rather than the supplements. However, the group who took inulin supplements significantly lost more weight relative to those who took cellulose supplements from week 9 to the end of the clinical trial even without the help of a dietitian. Furthermore, the inulin group lost more ectopic fat in their liver and muscles at the end of the clinical trial compared to the cellulose group. Even though inulin did not directly influence blood glucose and insulin levels, it still had a significant effect on weight and ectopic fats which led the researchers to conclude that it can help reduce the risk of diabetes through weight loss and ectopic fat reduction. 

Chicory Flower

Calcium Absorption

Although the mechanisms behind inulin-type fructans’ ability to improve intestinal calcium absorption is still a mystery; it is nonetheless well accepted. Thus, a study was conducted on thirteen young adults who were given 8 grams of inulin-type fructans for 8 weeks to find out if the inulin-type fructan was able to improve their intestinal calcium absorption. At the end of this study, eight young adults finished the 8-week clinical trial. The researchers observed that these young adults exhibited an increase in their colonic calcium absorption. They added that inulin-type fructans may aid those who have colonic calcium absorption problems brought about by physiological or anatomical reasons. 

Possible Side effects and Precautions

As always, too much of a good thing is bad. Do not take in large amounts of inulin immediately. Slowly increase your intake of it over time. In general, Chicory root inulin is safe. It is only in special cases such as in inulin allergies that would make this food item dangerous. Studies have also found that Chicory inulin is capable of worsening symptoms of ragweed allergies. 

Proper inulin intake is done gradually. Start with a 2- to 3-gram dosage everyday for the first 2 weeks. After 2 weeks is done, slowly increase your dosage by 5 to 10 grams each day until you reach 10 to 30 grams. It is not advisable to go beyond this dosage because information regarding the effects of inulin intake beyond the aforementioned dosage are yet to be conducted. The most common side effects reported after Inulin intake include loose stools, diarrhea, bloating, flatulence, and abdominal discomfort. It is said that people have a specific dosage that is suitable for them and that these side effects would lessen if proper dosage is observed.

If you are looking to manage your blood sugar levels, reduce fat, and improve gastrointestinal health then inulin intake is perfect for you.

Our product 'Fruit of Spirit Superfood Immune Support Powder' contains at least 406 millgrams of Prebiotics fiber and Digestive Enzyme Complex which include Apple fiber, Fungal Amylase, Fungal Protease, Glucoamylase, Lipase, Cellulase, and most importantly Inulin (Chicory Root Extract).

Inulin Clearance

A healthy kidney can filter 85 to 125 mL of plasma per minute in men and 75 to 115 mL of plasma per minute in women. In certain kidney diseases and conditions this rate is lessened. To determine whether or not the kidney’s ability to filter plasma has been compromised, tests for Glomerular Filtration Rate were created. Inulin is very important because it is a substance used for Inulin Clearance, a test that is used to assess Glomerular Filtration rate. The procedure is very similar to the Creatinine Clearance Test. However, Inulin Clearance is superior to Creatinine Clearance since almost 100% of Inulin is excreted by the body and it is not secreted nor absorbed by the renal tubules. The only drawback of inulin clearance is that it is quite tedious to perform. For the first 3 to 4 hours, inulin would have to be given to the patient intravenously. Urinary samples and plasma samples are collected every 30 minutes throughout the procedure. After 4 or 5 samples are collected and measured for inulin, the Glomerular Filtration Rate can then be calculated. The expected outcome should be that once the amount of inulin is maintained at a certain amount in a patient’s plasma, the rate of inulin excreted in their urine should be equal to the rate of inulin introduced to their bloodstream. Glomerular filtration rate should be around 90 or higher. A Glomerular filtration rate of 60 to 89 is normal in advanced-aged patients because it is known to decline with age. However, a glomerular filtration rate that is less than 60 that persists for 3 months is indicative of chronic kidney disease. Glomerular filtration rate that is less than 15 indicates kidney failure. 


Sources:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318593

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/chicory-root-fiber

https://www.sciencealert.com/inulin-is-being-added-to-many-foods-but-it-could-be-causing-stomach-problems

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11497328/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19152479/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18215222/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6041804/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27492975/

https://www.kidney.org/news/kidneyCare/summer09/gfr

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0268005X19303686

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26571012/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3638225/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26500686/

https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02548247

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6686634/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780323048835500088



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