What is chicoric acid?
Chicoric acid, a hydroxycinnamic acid, derived most commonly in the roots of chicory (Cichorium intybus), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), and basil. Each chicory rootpossesses a variety of health benefits, such as antiviral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, weight management, and neuroprotector.
A number of companies are selling chicory root as a dietary supplement for prebiotic support, as it is a source of inulin. We’ve collected two studies on chicoric acid and chicory seed combined with tumeric so that you can better understand its benefits and possible uses in your clinical practice.
Health Benefits of Chicoric acid
Chicoric acid makes our immune cells more efficient in attacking intruders. In vivo en vitro studies have shown that chicoric acid promotes phagocytosis. This is the process whereby white blood cells and lymphocytes attack and destroy pathogens. Chicoric acid stimulates T-cell activation, stimulates healing of wounds and reduces the inflammation in arthritis. Chicoric acid increases the production of interferon, immunoglobulin and other chemicals important for the immune system.
Studies have indicated that chicoric acid can inhibit the penetration of viruses in cells.
Chicoric acid also acts as an antioxidant by preventing the oxidation of collagen and cells.
“More recently, an increasing number of publications have reported the beneficial effects of chicoric acid in cell culture and animal studies.” ~ Pen Ye, Department of Food Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Previous studies from various regions of the world show a variety of benefits. For instance, in Europe, chicory roots and echinacea roots are baked and ground into a healthy coffee substitute. Turks use a chicory herbal tea for the diabetes, epilepsy, hemorrhoids, inflammation, and digestive disorders. In Asia, plant roots containing chicoric acid have been used in Asian traditional medicine as a tonic for inflammatory diseases, eye diseases, and nerve injuries. And in the US, most are familiar with the use of echinacea colds and flu.
In a summary review, The Bioactive Effects of Chicoric Acid As a Functional Food Ingredient, published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, researchers found 45 published articles that looked at the beneficial health effects of chicoric acid in cell or animal models. “The main benefits of chicoric acid include antivirus, anti-inflammation, glucose and lipid homeostasis, neuroprotection, and antioxidation effects,” the researchers write. “Biological activities and related mechanisms of chicoric acid from in vitro and in vivo studies are summarized in Tables 1 and 2 within this full text study.”
Study 1: In The Bioactive Effects of Chicoric Acid As a Functional Food Ingredient, study you will learn about the following potential benefits:
Chicoric acid, a hydroxycinnamic acid, has been reported to possess a variety of health benefits, including antivirus, antioxidant, anti-inflammation, obesity prevention, and neuroprotection effects. The purpose of this article is to summarize current knowledge of pharmacological and biological effects of chicoric acid. Since most studies to date on chicoric acid have limited their focus to cell cultures and animals, more human and mechanistic studies are therefore needed to further determine the beneficial effects of chicoric acid as a potential functional food ingredient.
Antiviral Effects of Chicoric Acid
Lipid Metabolism and Liver Function
Antioxidative Stress Effects
Suggested Molecular Targets
Study 2: Turmeric and chicory seed have beneficial effects on obesity markers and lipid profile in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Abstract / To investigate new strategies aimed at reducing risk factors of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), effects of turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) and chicory seed (Cichorium intybus L.) supplementation was evaluated in these patients. In this double-blind, randomized, controlled clinical trial, 92 patients with NAFLD aged 20-60 year with body mass index (BMI) ranged 24.9-40 kg/m2 was randomly assigned to 4 groups as follows.
Turmeric supplementation (3 g/d) (n = 23, TUR);
Chicory seed supplementation (infused 9 g/d (4.5 g /100mL)) (n = 23, CHI);
Turmeric and chicory seed supplementation (3 g/d turmeric + infused 9 g/d chicory seed (n = 23, TUR + CHI);
Placebo (n = 23, PLA). All intervention periods were 12 weeks;
Fasting blood samples, anthropometric measurements, dietary records and physical activity were collected at baseline and at the end of the trial.
Results/ “Significant decreases were observed in BMI and waist circumference (WC) of subjects in CHI and TUR + CHI groups, compared with PLA group (p < 0.05). Combination of turmeric and chicory seed significantly decreased serum alkaline phosphatase level (p < 0.05).”
“Serum levels of HDL-C increased considerably in TUR and TUR + CHI groups (p < 0.05 vs. placebo). Turmeric supplementation alone and plus chicory seed led to significant reduction in serum levels of TG/HDL-C and LDL-C/HDL-C ratio in TUR and TUR + CHI groups in comparison with placebo (p < 0.05). In conclusion, turmeric and chicory seed supplementation can be significantly useful in management of NAFLD risk factors.”
Echinacea extract 1% chicoric acid benefits
At the turn of the twentieth century, researchers first identified cichoric acid (also spelled chicoric) in chicory leaves and discovered that it fought viruses. But there was little medicinal interest in cichoric acid or chicory, leading one to believe “God’s gift” was only its stunning blue flowers.
Caffeic acid is universal in higher plants, and chlorogenic acid is common, but cichoric acid and other similar compounds are not. In 1996, researchers extracted these compounds from two rare Bolivian plants used as traditional medicinal plants by the Kallawaya tribe. In cell cultures, these compounds were found to be effective HIV integrase inhibitors at low, nontoxic dosages. The researchers then manufactured a synthetic form of cichoric acid called L-cichoric acid. This synthetic form also showed integrase activity.
Yet plants much closer to home, including chicory, echinacea (Echinacea spp.), horsetail (Equisetum arvense), and pear leaves and fruit are known to contain significant amounts of cichoric acid. The most readily available concentrated source of cichoric acid is echinacea, a botanical relative of chicory. Unlike chicory, echinacea is one of the best-selling herbs and is used mainly to thwart viral infections—especially colds and flu.
Test-tube studies have shown that echinacea extracts may suppress cancer cell growth and even trigger cancer cell death.In one test-tube study, an extract of Echinacea purpurea and chicoric acid (naturally found in echinacea plants) was shown to trigger cancer cell death.
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