Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) is a species of thistle. The edible part of the plant is the base of the artichoke head in bud, harvested well before any fruit develops. In traditional European medicine, the leaves of the artichoke (not the flower buds, which are the parts commonly cooked and eaten as a vegetable) were used as a diuretic to stimulate the kidneys and as a "choleretic" to stimulate the flow of bile from the liver and gallbladder.

Cynarin, luteolin, cynardoside (luteolin-7-O-glycoside), scolymoside, and chlorogenic acid are believed to be artichoke's active constituents. The most studied component, cynarin, is concentrated in the leaves.

Artichoke has been used in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), alcohol-induced hangover, and for its choleretic (stimulates bile release) and antioxidant properties.

This herb is often used as a vegetable and has diuretic properties, while increasing blood circulation, regenerating liver tissue and stimulating the gall bladder. Artichoke is said to reduce blood lipids, serum cholesterol, and blood sugar.

It contains numerous phenolic acids such as caffeic acid, monocaffeoylquinic acid derivatives (chlorogenic and neochlorogenic acid), dicaffeoylquinic acid derivatives (cynarin) as well as bitter sesquiterpene lactone, cynaropicrin, flavonoids (rutin and luteolin) and sesquiterpenes (caryophyllene and b-selinene).

Therapeutic uses
  • Internal use
    • Artichoke helps to
      • increase circulation
      • stimulates the secretion of bile (cholagogue)
      • help treat hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis)
      • fight liver damage from alcohol abuse
      • treating jaundice and hepatitis
      • lowers cholesterol levels
      • remove excess water with its diuretic actions
    • Artichoke has a determinable hepatoprotective effect which is attributed to the cynarin, chlorogenic and neochlorogenic acid found in the herb.
    • The cynarin is also involved in lowering the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood.
    • The ingredient cyanopicrin on the other hand is a bitter and general tonic and is also involved in improving the appetite and helping with digestion.
    • Eating artichoke as a vegetable has value in reducing the symptoms of a hiatus hernia.
    • Italians prepare the unopened flower heads as a vegetable, with parsley, breadcrumbs, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil - steamed first and then baked.
  • External use
    • None noted.
  • Aromatherapy and essential oil use
    • None noted.
Alcachofa, alcaucil, artichaut (French), artichiocco, artichoke, artichoke inulin, artichoke juice, Artischocke (German), artiskok, carciofo, cardo, cardo de comer, cardon d'Espagne, cardoon, chlorogenic acid, Cynara®, Cynara cardunculus, Cynara scolymus L., Cynarae folium, cynarin, cynaroside, French artichoke, garden artichoke, Gemuseartischocke (German), golden artichoke, Hekbilin A®, Hepar SL® forte, inulin, kardone, LI220, Listrocol®, luteolin, Raftiline®, scolymoside, tyosen-azami, Valverde Artischoke bei Verdauungsbeschwerden.

Note: Globe artichoke should not be mistaken for Jerusalem artichoke, which is the tuber of Helianthus tuberosa L. (a species of sunflower).

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