|HERBAL SIMPLES APPROVED FOR MODERN USES OF CURE
W. T. FERNIE, M.D.
Author of "Botanical Outlines," etc_
The Wild Succory (_Cichorium intybus_) is a common roadside
English plant, white or blue, belonging to the Composite order, and
called also Turnsole, because it always turns its flowers towards the
It blows with a blue blossom somewhat paler than the Cornflower,
but "bearing a golden heart."
Its fresh root is bitter, and a milky juice flows from the rind, which
is somewhat aperient and slightly sedative, so that this specially
suits persons troubled with bilious torpor, and jaundice combined
with melancholy. An infusion of the herb is useful for skin eruptions
connected with gout. If the root and leaves are taken freely, they
will produce a gentle diarrhoea, their virtue lying chiefly in the
milky juice; and on good authority the plant has been pronounced
useful against pulmonary consumption. In Germany it is called
Wegwort, or "waiting on the way." The Syrup of Succory is an
excellent laxative for children.
The Succory or Cichorium was known to the Romans, and was
eaten by them as a vegetable, or in salads. Horace writes (_Ode_
"Me pascunt olivae,
Me chicorea, levesque malvae."
 And Virgil, in his first _Georgic_, speaks of _Amaris intuba
fibris_. When cultivated it becomes large, and constitutes Chicory,
of which the taproot is used extensively in France for blending with
coffee, being closely allied to the Endive and the Dandelion.
This is the _Chicorée frisée_ when bleached, or the _Barbe de
Capucin_. The cortical part of the root yields a milky saponaceous
juice which is very bitter and slightly sedative. Some writers
suppose the Succory to be the Horehound of the Bible. In the
German story, _The Watcher of the Road_, a lovely princess,
abandoned for a rival, pines away, and asking only to die where she
can be constantly on the watch, becomes transformed into the
This Succory plant bears also the name of _Rostrum porcinum_. Its
leaves, when bruised, make a good poultice for inflamed eyes, being
outwardly applied to the grieved place. Also the leaves when boiled
in pottage or broths for sick and feeble persons that have hot, weak,
and feeble stomachs, do strengthen the same.
It is said that the roots, if put into heaps and dried, are liable to
spontaneous combustion. The taproot of the cultivated plant is
roasted in France, and mixed with coffee, to which, when infused, it
gives a bitterish taste and a dark colour.
The chemical constituents of Succory and Chicory are--in addition
to those ordinarily appertaining to vegetables--inulin, and a special
bitter principle not named.
Chicory, when taken too habitually or too freely, causes venous
passive congestion in the digestive organs within the abdomen, and
a fulness of blood in the head. Both it and Succory, if used in excess
as a medicine, will bring about amaurosis, or loss of visual power in
 the retina of the eyes. Therefore, when given in a much
diluted form they are remedial for these affections.
The only benefit of quality which Chicory gives to coffee is by
increase of colour and body, with some bitterness, but not by
possessing any aroma, or fragrant oil, or stimulating virtue. French
writers say it is _contra-stimulante_, and serving to correct the
excitation caused by the active principles of coffee, and therefore it
suits sanguineo-bilious subjects who suffer from habitual tonic
constipation. But it is ill adapted for persons whose vital energy
soon flags; and for lymphatic, or bloodless people its use should be
The flowers of Succory used to rank among the four cordial flowers,
and a water was distilled from them to allay inflammation of the
eyes. The seeds contain abundantly a demulcent oil, whilst the
petals furnish a glucoside which is colourless unless treated with
alkalies, when it becomes of a golden yellow.