Botanical Name: Cynara scolymus L.
Other Common Names: Globe artichoke, garden artichoke, ætiþistill (Icelandic), artischoke (German), artichaut (French), chao xian ji (Chinese), kronärtskocka (Swedish).
Plant Parts Used: The leaves are mostly used in herbal medicine both in dried or fresh form. The artichoke hearts are mainly used as food.
Therapeutic Uses, Benefits and Claims of Artichoke
The artichoke leaves contain a number phenolic acids, flavonoids, tannins, sugar substances, inulin, mucus substances, phytosterols, essential oil, provitamin A and several enzymes.The herb is used internally as a tea or in tablet or capsule form to treat liver and gallbladder diseases such as liver damage, cirrhosis, hepatitis, and jaundice.
The bile driving and liver protective properties of artichoke are associated with substances cynarine and the chlorogenic and neo chlorogenic acids found in the plant. These substances are believed to protect the liver cells from damage caused by free radicals, heavy alcohol consumption, and other toxins.
Artichokes can also help prevent gallstones or be used as a remedy for indigestion, loss of appetite and dyspepsia with bloated feeling, intestinal gas, belching, nausea, irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol, obesity and gout.
Clinical studies have shown that artichoke can lower the values of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood, which explains why the herb is commonly used to treat atherosclerosis.
Several clinical trials have shown that an artichoke extract can lower the amount of serum cholesterol and triglycerides, and some recent studies suggest that the herb may help improve relations between good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol.
In addition, the plant has a weak diuretic property and may lower elevated uric acid in the blood. Therefore it could be a helpful medicinal herb in treating rheumatic disorders such as osteoarthritis.
Artichoke has been considered a good herbal supplement in the treatment of diabetes, since the herb may have a significant blood glucose lowering effect.
One tablespoon of the dried crushed leaves in one cup of boiling water. The tea is then steeped for 10 minutes before it is strained. Drinking a cup a half hour before each meal is often recommended.
Possible Side Effects and Interactions
Artichoke is considered a safe herb to use as an herbal medicine and there are no reports of serious side effects when used in recommended doses.