- Family Compositae
- Cynara scolymus syn. C. cardunculus
- Garden Artichoke, Globe Artichoke
- Spanish: Alcachofra, Alcachofera, Artichaut
- Nahuatl: Quahtlahuitzquilitl
- Should not be used if there is a bile duct blockage as colic may occur.
- If gallstones are present, use only under the guidance of a professional.
It is a perennial plant growing to five or six feet. It has large, thistle-like leaves, gray-green above and woolly-white underneath, and very large purple-green flower heads. It is found in the Mediterranean region, the Canary Islands and Central and South America but cultivated worldwide. It thrives in rich soil and warm temperate climates. Commercially grown plants are renewed after four years. The unopened flower heads and leaves are picked in early summer. It is the flowerhead that is widely used as a vegetable, with the petals and the bottom on the flower eaten. The thick rhizome, the leaves, and the flowerhead are used medicinally.
Artichokes were greatly valued by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Dioscorides recommended applying the mashed root to the armpits and elsewhere on the body to sweeten offensive odours.
- digestive stimulant
- lowers blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels
- cynarin (leaves)
- sesquiterpene lactone (cynaropicrin)
- Flower head, roots, leaves
- Cynaropicrin is strongly bitter, making it a valuable digestive and liver remedy.
- The cynarin in the leaves has liver-protecting properties.
- Studies indicate that cynarin and luteolin extracts inhibit the body's synthesis of cholesterol, and thus help lower levels.
Artichokes are used mainly for liver and gallbladder complaints and as a prophylactic treatment against the return of gallstones. Like milk thistle, artichokes benefit the liver by protecting it against toxins and infections.
Although the leaves are particularly effective, all parts of the plant can stimulate digestive secretions especially bile making it good for all digestive problems including indigestion, nausea, and abdominal distension.
A good food for diabetics, it is taken in the early stages of late-onset diabetes to lower blood sugar levels.
In France, artichokes are used to treat rheumatic conditions.
It is widely used in Central and South America as a medicinal plant to treat liver ailments and related problems.
In Guatemala, the dried leaves are sold in markets to treat liver problems.
In Brazil, a decoction is used for indigestion and liver ailments.
Mexicans use it for hypertension, cystitis, and calcification of the liver.
In northern and western Mexico, a tea of the boiled flowers and leaves is used as a treatment for adult-onset diabetes.