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Review Article

Chicory (Cichorium intybus) Herb: Chemical Composition, Pharmacology, Nutritional and Healthical Applications

International Journal of Pharmacology: Volume 13 (4): 351-360, 2017

Muhammad Saeed, Mohamed E. Abd El-Hack, Mahmoud Alagawany, Muhammad A. Arain, Muhammad Arif, Muhammad A. Mirza, Muhammad Naveed, Sun Chao, Muhammad Sarwar, Maryam Sayab and Kuldeep Dhama

Abstract

Chicory (Cichorium intybus) is a perennial herbal plant of the dandelion family Asteraceae, usually with bright blue flowers, rarely pink or white. Several varieties are cultivated for salad leaves, chicons or roots which are baked, ground and used as a coffee substitute and supplement. It is also grown as a forage plant for poultry and animal. In addition, chicory herb plays a key role as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, sedative, immunological, productive and reproductive enhancer, cardiovascular, hypolipidemic, anticancer, anti-protozoal, gastroprotective, antidiabetic, analgesic, anthelmintic, antimicrobial, wound healing and bitter tonic without inducing therapeutic adverse effect. Regarding the hepatoprotective activity, chicory extract reduced the levels of hepatic enzymes such as alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP). Also, chicory plant is a good and very important protective source for hepatocytes and other liver cells as well as it is used as prebiotic against some species of pathogenic bacteria for both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, it enhances immunity and feed efficiency by decreasing pathogenic microorganisms of gastrointestinal tract. Cichorium intybus roots also were used for the relief of mild digestive disorders, such as feeling of flatulence, abdominal fullness, temporary loss of appetite and slow digestion. The present study highlights the importance of chicory as a feed additive used to improve growth and productive performance of poultry as well as salient beneficial applications in animals and humans. Furthermore, it explains the mechanisms of action underlying the beneficial effects of chicory and to find the effective level in poultry that would act as liver tonic.

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© 2017. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the creative commons attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Muhammad Saeed, Mohamed E. Abd El-Hack, Mahmoud Alagawany, Muhammad A. Arain, Muhammad Arif, Muhammad A. Mirza, Muhammad Naveed, Sun Chao, Muhammad Sarwar, Maryam Sayab and Kuldeep Dhama, 2017. Chicory (Cichorium intybus) Herb: Chemical Composition, Pharmacology, Nutritional and Healthical Applications. International Journal of Pharmacology, 13: 351-360.

DOI: 10.3923/ijp.2017.351.360

URL: https://scialert.net/abstract/?doi=ijp.2017.351.360

INTRODUCTION

Many countries tend to prevent the application of traditional antibiotics as feed additives for their side effects on both poultry and animals. The ban on nutritive antibiotic use in the world and the augmented awareness of the consumers triggered a need for safe and natural supplements to achieve the best production of livestock animal; therefore, now a days growth enhancers from herbal sources are used very commonly1,2. Among several herbal plants, chicory (Cichorium intybus) is a valuable plant could be used as a natural liver tonic in poultry feed. Since, poultry is one of the largest industry which fulfill consumer’s protein demand. The incredible growth of poultry industry in the world was due to diseases control, feed manipulation as well as genetic and managerial improvements. Various strategies have been used to enhance the broilers growth performance, feed utilization and economics. Among these strategies, use of antibiotics as growth promoters is most chosen one. Even in developing countries like Pakistan approximately, one billion rupees were used by poultry industry annually for antibiotics which increased feed bag cost around 100-150 rupees per bag3. In some countries, the use of antibiotics as feed additive is banned due to the massive insecurity in food because these antibiotics develop resistance in animals and humans against several diseases4. Consumer awareness of the relationship between poultry feed formulations and human health enhanced the demand for poultry meat free of antibiotic residues. Moreover, there are many factors such as development in technology and sciences, enhancement of cost in healthcare and alterations in laws of food play important roles in increasing the demand of functional foods. Now a days, poultry scientists are looking forward to find some alternative sources for antibiotic to minimize its side effects in animal and humans and enhance immunity and feed efficiency by decreasing pathogenic microorganisms of gastrointestinal tract.

Different parts of herbal medicinal plants and plant extracts such as black cumin5, quercetin plant derived product6 and chicory7,8 have been used in poultry feed as growth promoters but with varying results. These plants have many properties such as growth promoter, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-cancer, anti-tumor, anti-malarial, anti-coccidial, gastro-protective, diuretic and immunogenic9. However, a few studies have suggested that the positive effects of chicory in different animal model but literature is lacking information about chicory used as hepatoprotective in poultry production and underlying mechanism. Therefore, the objective of this study shed lights on this medicinal plant regarding the hepatoprotectant to overcome liver diseases and help to replace antibiotic with chicory and provide promising future used as herbal liver tonic in poultry industry to cope the medicinal cost.

Plant profile and chemical compositions: Chicory (Cichorium intybus) is herbaceous plant typically called kasni belongs to mono-generic family Asteraceae (Table 1) with various properties and usually grown in all over the world especially Pakistan. It is generally grown mixed with some other plants such as lucerne (Medicago falcate) and berseem (Trifolium alexandrinum)10. Chicory has several industrial uses i.e., best herbal diuretic and also helps in biomass production, strongest hepatoprotective agent, poultry feed additive and used as animal forage11,12. Along with medicinal properties the nutritional profile of kasni is also good because it has certain amount of vitamins (especially vitamin C) and minerals, different types of active compounds such as inulin, sesquiterpene lactones, fats, vitamins, minerals, fructans, mannitol and latex13-15. The proximate composition, vitamin and mineral contents of chicory herb are presented in Table 2. Some biological activities and medicinal effects of chicory (Cichorium intybus, Cichorium frisee, Cichorium endivia, Cichorium grouse and Cichorium chico and Cichorium pumilum) are illustrated in Fig. 1.

Beneficial effects of chicory with special reference to its role as hepatoprotective agent: The beneficial uses of chicory herb and its products in some different species are presented in Table 3. Chicory (Cichorium intybus) is an herbaceous plant commonly called kasni belongs to mono generic family, Asteraceae, with multifarious features; hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, sedative, immunological, reproductive, cardiovascular, hypolipidemic, anticancer, anti-protozoal, gastro-protective, antidiabetic, analgesic, anthelmintic, antimicrobial, wound healing and bitter tonic without inducing therapeutic adverse effect16.

Table 1:Botanical classification of Cichorium intybus leaves

To make better use of chicory to assist in the development of powerful, hepatoprotective feed additive, it is necessary to understand the mechanism of action of this novel herbal plant as a liver tonic. To date, the process is underlying their hepatoprotective effects of chicory is not explored. Liver is a prime organ which performs many physiological functions in animals and poultry. The nutritional level of the birds is not only determined by what they eat but it depends on the function and processing of liver. Unluckily, it is very difficult to identify the early symptoms of liver imbalances and also longtime disorders due to the constant usage of antibiotics in broiler production as growth promoters17. Trease and Evans18 mentioned that liver has complex chemistry and also plays an important function in the physiology of the bird by producing effective cures. There are some medicinal plants present similar to chicory having beneficial properties against hepatic disorders. Chicory is a good and very important protective source for hepatocytes. Clinical evaluation has also shown that it has ability to treat the liver problems19.

Chicory is used as prebiotic against some species of pathogenic bacteria for both in vitro and in vivo. Chicory increased feed consumption and improved immunity in broilers20,21. Previously, Mushtaq et al.22 found that the hepatoprotective activity of aqueous-ethanolic extract of fresh dried leaves of chicory (Cichorium intybus) with given various concentrations was reported in comparison with silymarin treated animals. The significant effects were perceived in biochemical parameters regarding the liver enzymes such as alanine phosphatase (ALP), Serum Glutamate Oxaloacetate Transaminase (SGOT), Serum Glutamate Pyruvate Transaminase (SGPT) and Total Bilirubin (TB) in rats. Chicory extract could inhibit skeletal muscle atrophy via inducing the expression of inhibiting the level of ceramide23 and Hsp 70. Rasmussen24 reported that feed supplementation of chicory could up-regulated hepatic androstenone metabolism, which can be a way of attracting a mate.

Table 2:Proximate analysis and mineral and vitamin composition of Cichorium intybus leaves

Table 3:Beneficial effects of Cichorium intybus in some species

Fig. 1:Biological activities of chicory plant

Regarding anti-hepatotoxic properties of chicory, its extracts positively decreased the liver enzymes such as ALP, ALT and AST25. The significant decrease in ALT activity was also stated by Noreen25. While, Marzouk et al.26 observed no significant impact chicory leaf extract on ALT activity. Abd El-Mageed27 confirmed the hepatoprotective effect of celery leaves and chicory supplementation in barley based diet on hyper cholesterolemic rats. It was reported that chicory leaves at 5% had beneficial effects on the hypercholesterolemia and liver diseases in rats. Chicory supplementation lowered total lipids, liver enzymes, bilirubin and total cholesterol28. On the other hand, Mishra and Kishore29 observed the effects of kasni (Cichorium intybus Linn.) against dietary aflatoxicosis in rats. The researchers that supplementation of kasni (100 g kg–1 feed) to diet contained 7 ppm aflatoxin B1 decreased the activities of liver enzymes (GOT, ALP and GPT).

Gilani and Janbaz30 pointed out that aqueous-methanolic extract of Cichorium intybus seeds at 500 mg kg–1 in acetaminophen and CCl4-induced animals significantly lowered (p<0.01) the levels of serum liver enzymes like GOT, ALP and GPT to 228, 68 and 41 IU L–1, respectively. In addition, it also reduced the mortality rate up to 30% as compared to acetaminophen when supplemented at 1 g kg–1 which caused 100% mortality in mice. In Wistar strain of Albino rats, Zafar and Ali31 studied the hepatoprotective impact of natural root and root extracts of chicory herb against carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) induced hepatic disorders. The researchers found that chicory root or its extracts decreased the concentrations of serum liver enzymes (AST and ALT) and bilirubin in rats treated with CCl4 in comparison with CCl4 without additives. In another study, Gilani et al.32 noted the protective effect of esculetin (phenolic compound) extract from chicory and its role vs. paracetamol and CCl4-induced hepatic injury. It is observed that the pre-treatment of rats with esculetin at 6 mg kg–1 lowered the mortality rate by 40% in comparison with paracetamol (1 g kg–1) group that recorded 100% mortality. In addition to, the oral administration of CCl4 (1.5 mL kg–1) raised serum levels of ALP, AST and ALT but the tested level (6 mg kg–1) of esculetin was able to inhibit the CCl4-induced hepatic injury. In line, chicory root extract is rich in natural antioxidants and able to alleviate CCl4-induced hepatic damage by improving the antioxidant indices such as activity of glutathione peroxidase (GPx), glutathione s-transferase, catalase (CAT), glutathione reductase and paraoxonase-1 (PON1), removing reactive oxygen species and reducing lipid peroxidation33. Ahmed34 stated that feeding with chicory plant has a substantial function in improving the antioxidant defense system by inducing gene expression and lowering the oxidative stress, thereby causing overexpression of CAT activity and restoring GSH concentration35.

Chicory, ginger and mixture of both in intoxicated rats showed positive effects regarding liver enzymes. Methanol extract of chicory (250 and 500 mg kg–1) alone or mixed with ginger (250 and 500 mg kg–1) showed no toxic symptoms even when doses36 of CCl4 were used up to 5 g kg–1. Similar reports were documented by other researchers who observed protective effects of chicory against oxytetracyclin-induced fatty liver and found that HDL, globulin, albumin, total protein and cholesterol were significantly decreased in chicory supplemented diets as compared to control group37. Mushtaq et al.22 found that intoxicated rats fed diet containing dried leaves o f chicory (100, 200 and 300 mg kg–1 b.wt.) with silymarin (25 mg kg–1) significantly increased Serum Glutamate Oxaloacetate Transaminase (SGOT), glutamate pyruvate transaminase (SGPT), ALP and Total Bilirubin (TB) level. Cichorium root extract therapy was clearly observed by decreasing necrosis and glycogen content.

Fig. 2:
Relationship between chicory herb and liver function, where dietary supplementation of chicory reduced the levels of hepatic enzymes in poultry birds

Pronounced protein synthesis activity with increased the number of cells was observed in experimental rats with CCl4-induced hepatitis38. Similarly, in another study, different doses of chicory root extracts i.e., 150-450 or 200-500 mg kg–1 day–1 were supplemented in already CCl4 induced liver toxicity in rats. Microvesicular steatosis and serum markers were significantly reduced in chicory (Cichorium intybus) groups39. Chicory fed diet offered to different animals exhibited greater Live Weight Gains (LWG) as compared to control diets40. Aqueous extracts of chicory herb showed bone protection vs. glucocorticoid-induced in rats41, this result may be attributed to containing flavonoids and inulin.

Beneficial uses in human: Since in ancient history various herbal plants had been used for their primary health problem. Hitherto, more attentions were being focused on plant-based remedies in traditional cultures and most important cures were carefully passed from one generation to other generation. In India, chicory seeds are used in commercial products (Jigrine) to treat of numerous liver diseases42. Anciently in Europe, Cichorium intybus roots were used for the relief of mild digestive disorders, such as feeling of flatulence, abdominal fullness, temporary loss of appetite and slow digestion43. Furthermore, in Africa, chicory’s stems, leaves and roots are being used in a tea for the treatment of jaundice. The syrup of chicory is also used as a tonic for infants44. Moreover, the juice of this plant is used as a folk remedy for tumors and cancer of the uterus45 and also used for treatment of malaria destined having pound like lactucopicrin and lactones lactucin46.

Practical applications in poultry and animal: The beneficial activities of Cichorium intybus is presented in Table 4 and Fig. 2. Chicory forage (Cichorium intybus) is a unique dietary fiber source that has beneficial properties as fiber ingredient for poultry nutrition47. Saeed et al.8 reported Cichorium intybus leaf extract as safe growth promoter, hepatoprotective and immune stimulator in broiler production. Cichorium intybus is a potentially convenient fiber-rich diet ingredient which improved palatability of diets in broilers48. Also, chicory forage has a high content of uronic acids, which in dicotyledonous plants derive from galactosyluronic acid; this acid is the building block in pectin49. In line, the chicory root contains a high level of inulin and fructooligosaccharides, which can be used to manipulate the composition of microbiota in the gastrointestinal tract and improves its integrity50. Inulin is one of the best sources of prebiotic in animal application51. Thus, both the root and forage of chicory are of interest as fiber sources in poultry nutrition.

Izadi et al.52 observed that broiler fed Cichorium intybus root powder supplemented diets significantly improved growth performance by enhancing food digestion and absorption through alteration of jejunum histomorphometry. Beta fructans derived from chicory plant significantly reduced the serum cholesterol and abdominal fat in broiler53,54. In broiler chickens, feeding 4.5% chicory root powder lowered triglyceride and VLDL-cholesterol (very low-density lipoprotein) concentrations without adverse effects on chicken performance, while the total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL-cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) were not affected by dietary supplementations55.

Table 4:Beneficial effects of Cichorium intybus on growth performance in poultry

In horses, Najafzadeh et al.56 reported that the concentrations of AST, ALT, ALP and LDH, total and conjugated bilirubin, albumin and total protein were observed in the normal ranges whereas the concentration of uric acid was outside the normal range with Cichorium intybus supplementation. In another study, the blood non esterified fatty acids and urea nitrogen in dairy cows were not affected by chicory herb consumption for 12 weeks57. Furthermore, Lin et al.58 and Zhu et al.59 found that Cichorium intybus decreased serum uric acid concentration and inhibit liver xanthine oxidase and xanthine dehydrogenase.

Chicory is highly digestible for animal especially ruminants and has a low content of fiber. The roots of chicory are an excellent substitute for oats for animal due to their content of protein and fat. Also, this plant contains a low concentration of reduced tannins that may improve protein efficiency and reduce the intestinal parasites in animals. Large amounts of tannin could bind with proteins, resulting in low nutrient digestibility. Although this plant might have originated in Italy, France and India, much development of it for use with animal has taken place in New Zealand60-62.

CONCLUSION AND FUTURE RECOMMENDATIONS

Cichorium intybus may be a good candidate for nutritional and pharmaceutical aspects in poultry and animals. The benefits of chicory supplementation as a natural additive are promising. Since, chicory herb has ability to reduce the levels of some hepatic enzymes such as ALT and AST. In addition, this plant plays a vital role as a natural hepatoprotective agent in reducing many diseases related to liver. Chicory herb or its products exhibit several nutritional benefits by mitigating the lipid peroxidation in serum and organs. Additionally, chicory showed many healthical and pharmacological properties like, hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, sedative, immunological, reproductive, cardiovascular, hypolipidemic, anticancer, anti-protozoal, gastro-protective, antidiabetic, analgesic, anthelmintic and antimicrobial. Further studies are required to understand the molecular mechanisms of action underlying the beneficial effects of chicory and find the effective level in animal especially in poultry that would act as liver tonic.

However, further investigations should evaluate the toxicity and safety of chicory herb or its products and oils in order to new approach for considering their application in healthical purposes and related issues.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENTS

Chicory herb or its products exhibit several pharmaceutical and nutritional benefits in poultry and animals by mitigating the lipid peroxidation in serum and organs
Cichorium intybus plays an important role as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, sedative, immunological, productive and reproductive enhancer, cardiovascular, hypolipidemic, anticancer, anti-protozoal, gastro-protective, antidiabetic, analgesic, anthelmintic, antimicrobial, wound healing and bitter tonic without inducing therapeutic adverse effect
Use of Cichorium intybus in livestock nutrition enhances the efficiency of growth, production and health

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

All the authors of the manuscript are immensely grateful to their respective universities and institutes for their technical assistance and valuable support in the completion of this research project.

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