Globe artichoke

Cynara scolymus

Description

Globe artichokes have been used as food and medicine for centuries. Not only is their flavour delicious, but this artichoke (which should not be confused with the Jerusalem artichoke) has been used to treat ailments ranging from snakebite to anaemia, arthritis and kidney complaints. In Brazil, it is recorded, preparations made from the leaves have long been used to treat high cholesterol and hypertension. Modern natural practitioners support this theory and also prescribe globe artichoke to protect liver function and improve appetite and digestion.

Parts used

The fresh or dried leaves and the buds are used in herbal remedies.

Constituents

Extracts of globe artichoke leaves contain various phenolic acids, which act as anti-oxidants; sesquiterpene lactones such as cynaropicrin, which also has an anti-oxidant effect; and flavonoids such as rutin and luteolin. Globe artichoke also contains cynarin, which improves the lining of the arterial walls and is thought to lower levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood. Vitamins A, all the Bs and C, minerals such as iron and magnesium, and insulin, which helps control blood sugar, are present.

Medicinal uses

Artichoke is used to stimulate the flow of bile from the liver, which is thought to help reduce high cholesterol, prevent gallstones and treat digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, bloating and flatulence.

Artichoke is prescribed to:

  • Treat high blood cholesterol.
  • Increase the production of bile, thereby improving liver function and helping to remove toxins from the body.
  • Help treat gallbladder ailments.
  • May improve digestive complaints such as irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, indigestion and flatulence.
  • May boost immune function.
  • May help control blood sugar.

CAUTION

Talk to your medical practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.
Avoid globe artichoke if you are pregnant or breastfeeding as it contains a compound that curdles milk. Do not take if you have a blocked bile duct or are allergic to members of the daisy and marigold family. Always consult your healthcare practitioner before taking natural remedies.
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Flora Force Products containing Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus)

How to cook globe artichoke

Domestic & culinary uses

Artichokes are delicious steamed, pickled, and in soups or dips. They’re tricky to prepare though, so follow these tips on the BBC Good Food website. Remember too, that dipping artichokes too liberally in melted butter may undo the benefits the vegetable has on cholesterol!

Cultivation

Indigenous to the Mediterranean world, artichokes are said to grow best in Italy, where they are a common sight. Plant a row of artichoke seeds in your garden in rich, loamy soil in a warm, sunny spot. The pretty purple flowers appear in spring and summer. Harvest the unopened flower buds, leaving a few to mature to be planted the following year.

Acknowledgements & credits

Compiled for Flora Force by Judy Beyer

References

  1. Roberts, M. 100 Edible and Healing Flowers. 2014. Struik Nature, Cape Town, South Africa.
  2. Van Wyk, B-E. and Wink, M. Medicinal Plants of the World. 2004. Briza Books, Pretoria, South Africa.

Photos

  1. Globe artichoke photo (“Artichaut2“) by Fred.th. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0via Wikimedia Commons.
  2. Globe artichoke recipe photo courtesy of courtesy of BBC goodfood / BBCgoodfood.com
Information in our herb library is intended only as a general reference for further exploration. It is not a replacement for professional health advice and does not provide complete dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription medicines. Accordingly, this information should only be used under the direct supervision of a suitably qualified health practitioner such as a registered homeopath, naturopath or phytotherapist.