Medicinal plants

Wegwarte - magic plant, Caro coffee and medicine

Wegwarte - magic plant, Caro coffee and medicine

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We know the common wayward (cichorium) or chicory as a cultivated chicory. In 2020 it will be the “medicinal plant of the year”, in order to explain that chicory not only tastes good as a vegetable, but also has a medicinal effect.


  • Scientific name: Cichorium intybus
  • Common names: Chicory, dog run, cursed maid, bird light, warty herb, crayfish, sun herb.
  • Family: Asteraceae
  • Occurrence: Europe, West Asia and Northwest Africa, today also as a neophyte in South Africa, North and South America.
  • Plant parts used: Above-ground parts and roots, flowers
  • Application areas: Indigestion, blood purification, blood circulation, lowering blood sugar levels.

Chicory - An Overview

  • Wegwarte is known today primarily as a chicory vegetable. Historically, it served primarily as a medicinal plant.
  • In folk medicine extracts of the wayward were remedies for various ailments, from hemorrhoids to fever to headaches, from stomach diseases to eye problems.
  • Wegwarte is recognized as a medicine against appetite and dystopian complaints.
  • The ingredients of the plant as well as studies with chicory extracts indicate a large unused potential of medically effective substances.

Blood purifier and coffee substitute

The chicory belongs to the daisy family and has been popular as an herbal remedy since ancient times. It was used to treat indigestion and to “cleanse the blood”. In modern times, the roasted root was a substitute for bean coffee, and chicory like radicchio stand out from other vegetables with its slightly bitter taste.


Wegwarte has a lot of substances that arouse the interest of evidence-based medicine today, as they may offer a basis for new therapies: for bacterial infections or diseases of the metabolism. These include sesquiterpene lactones (these give the plant its bitter taste), phenol carboxylic acids, tannins and coumarin.

Chicory stores inulin. Characteristic are the bitter substances lactucin and lactucopikrin, both of which are sesquiterpene lactones. In addition there are esculetin, aesculin, cichoriin, umbelliferon, scopoletin, 6,7-dihydroxycoumarin, glycosides, coffee and ferulic acid, flavonoids, cichoria acid, tannins and phytosterols.

Chicory in folk medicine

"Because of its comprehensive effectiveness and reliability, cichorium (...) is one of the most important herbal remedies." Gerhard Madaus 1938

Both the above-ground plant and the root have been sought after as an ancient medicine. The nestor of occidental medicine, Hippocrates, recommended the chicory because of its "cooling effect", the ancient medic Dioskurides saw it as astringent and believed that it would alleviate stomach diseases. In medieval medicine, an extract from the roots and flowers was used to promote appetite and to urinate.

Chicory should also cure jaundice and eye problems, as well as fever and headache. Wegwarte was also considered a remedy for hemorrhoids. Paracelsus valued her as diaphoretic, Kneipp recommended her for diseases of the stomach, intestine and liver. In Germany, Wegwarte is traditionally used to dissipate.

Pharmacological effects

Chicory is recognized in Germany as a medicinal product to promote appetite as well as for dyseptic problems. Science now knows various medical effects of individual ingredients. The cichoria acid also ensures that inulin is released and glucose is absorbed. This makes the acid suitable for lowering blood sugar.

Against inflammation

Chicory roots could open new avenues in the treatment of arthritis. A (very small) observational study showed that improvements occurred in nine out of ten patients with osteoarthritis of the hips and joints who took 600 mg of a root extract for one month.

Waiting for toothpaste

In a study, Wegwarte showed effects against the bacterium Prevotella intermedia, which triggers periodontitis. According to this, chicory extract for oral hygiene products would be recommended to prevent periodontal disease. Another study showed that such an extract also helps against Streptococcus mutans and Actinomyces naeslundii. Organic acids in the control room inhibit the formation of caries, especially succinic and quinic acid. Chicory extract also attacks dental plaque, in which pathogenic agents collect.

Inulin intake

Inulin promotes the growth of the commensal bacterial flora in the intestine and lowers the ammonia values ​​there, a side effect when taking chicory inulin is (only) flatulence. However, from a certain point, an increased intake of inulin itself leads to gastrointestinal complaints, and the tolerable amount must be determined by the doctor in the person concerned.

There is valid evidence that regular intake of inulin lowers the risk of developing colon cancer.

Side effects from Wegwarte

Wegwarte, like other daisies, can cause allergies. In a few cases, asthma-like symptoms are known, the “chicory worker’s lung” is also known, a disease in which the lungs react hypersensitively after they have been continuously exposed to chicory dust. There is probably also a cross allergy between birch pollen allergy and hypersensitivity to chicory. Wegwarte is however weak compared to other allergy-causing plants. Non-allergy sufferers have few problems because the extract is non-toxic.

Who should be careful with chicory?

However, caution is advised in the case of biliary problems. If you suffer from gallstones, especially if they already cause colic, you should only take products from Wegwarte if you have discussed this with a specialist.

Where does Wegwarte grow?

The common waypoint naturally grows in Europe, the west of Asia and northwest Africa. Today people have also spread them in southern Africa, in North and South America. In Germany, it particularly inhabits ruderal areas, fields, pastures and, as the name suggests, waysides. It is a typical pioneer plant that also conquers “problematic” soil with its deep roots.

Chicory likes soils with many nutrients and is therefore well served in the modern agricultural landscape saturated with mineral fertilizers and oversaturated. Your requirements are easy to satisfy, it grows on slightly damp to slightly dry soil and cannot be driven off even with a little salt. The Wegwarte avoids the highest altitudes and only occurs in the mountains up to an altitude of 1500 meters.

Muckefuck and Caro coffee

The older generation still knows Wegwarte well as muckefuck or as Caro coffee. In the 18th century, chicory was added to real coffee so that it tasted bitter and had a stronger color. However, the frequent waiting room offered to replace the coffee, which was very expensive at the time, and the officer Christian von Heine and the innkeeper Christian Gottlieb Förster from today's Lower Saxony invented the muckefuck or chicory coffee. They manufactured them in factories from 1769. Today chicory is mainly grown to produce inulin.

Chicory - chicory salad

Today we know Wegwarte primarily as chicory. However, few know that this vegetable is a crop of the blue flowering herb on the roadside. At the end of the 19th century, the consumption of the cultivated Wegwarte's sprouts spread. For this, the roots are dug in and covered in late autumn. In winter, our chicory is formed with buds up to 20 centimeters long and five centimeters thick. It gets its paleness and tenderness from the darkness.

A magic plant

There were numerous fairy tales and legends about chicory. So she played a role in love spells in the Middle Ages, and the consumption of chicory should lead to the fact that virgins saw their future groom in a dream. It should also make warriors invulnerable in battle.

Common names

The chicory has many regional common names, some of which are variations of dog run; in East Prussia it was called the Cursed Maiden (possibly an echo of imaginary magic), in Swabia crayfish, in Thuringia sun herb, in Silesia wortweed and in Transylvania bird light.


Wegwarte is a medicinally effective plant with a variety of positive effects, the potential of which is far from being exhausted. Further research should particularly focus on the effects of wound healing and metabolic diseases.

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Anna Hitova, Matthias F. Melzig: Cichorium intybus L., Gemeine Wegwarte, Z Phytother 2014; 35 (04): 198-202 DOI: 10.1055 / s-0034-1371731, researchgate
  • J. Augustin: Optimization of isolation of inulin from Cichorium intybus L. and some of its uses in social practice. In: Ceska Slov Farm 2005; 54: 145-150, PubMed
  • Al Bonnema et al .: Gastrointestinal tolerance of chicory inulin products. In: J Am Diet Assoc 2010; 110: 865-868, PubMed
  • D. Mascherpa et al .: Identification of phenolic constituents in Cichorium endivia var. Crispum and var. Latifolium salads by high-performance liquid chromatography with diode array detection and electrospray ioniziation tandem mass spectrometry. In: J Agric Food Chem 2012; 60: 12142-12150, PubMed
  • D. Tousch et al .: Chicoric acid, a new compound able to enhance insulin release and glucose uptake. In: Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2008; 377: 131-135, PubMed

Video: Elderflower: therapeutic and magical properties (July 2022).


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