artichoke Artichoke

Artichoke leaf | Cynara scolymus

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include globe artichoke, artichoke thistle.

The wild version of the globe artichoke (cardoon) is thought to be native to the Mediterranean area but will grow happily in Britain and many other areas such as the Americas and Asia.

Artichoke is a variety of thistle, a very large perennial plant (a member of the Asteraceae, or daisy family) reaching up to 2 metres in height with very large, pale whitish green leaves and the large edible scaly flower buds burst open into a purple thistle like flower in summer.

Artichoke buds, picked before they come into flower, are used as a food in many countries and are a valuable food crop.

 

Artichoke leaf tincture is available to buy in our herbal shop.


harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

The large leaves of the artichoke plant are the most common parts used (and the most pharmacologically active)in herbal medicine and this is what we refer to when talking about the herb artichoke. The green buds (before flowering) are usually eaten as a vegetable. After steaming or boiling the heads (buds), drink the cooking water for a nutritious drink.
It can be grown as a perennial vegetable in the vegetable patch or looks equally at home in the flower border with its broad architectural leaves and large purple flower heads.
The fresh leaves are picked when they are in good condition and free from major blemishes, mold or other types of damage. Pick some in Spring, placing in a warm dry location to dry thoroughly and then pick a few more again in Autumn, drying in the same way. These two harvests then represent your yearly harvest and can be mixed together an stored in a jar, kept in a cool, dark place such as a cupboard or pantry.
 
Artichoke leaf tincture is available to buy in our herbal shop.

 

 

therapeutic actions and uses

therapeutic actions and uses

Globe artichokes (leaf and buds) are very rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant which protects the body against the damaging effects of excessive free radicals which are implicated as a cause of many degenerative diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and neurological disorders. Artichokes antioxidant content is still present in large amounts after cooking (in any form) making them a really useful part of the diet. They are low in calories and rich in fibre and many other useful nutrients such as vitamin C, potassium and magnesium.
 
Artichoke leaves are renowned medicinally as a gentle bitter tonic, restorative and detoxifying to the liver, gallbladder and pancreas cells and functions and stimulating digestive juices such as bile and gastric acids. It is a safe, gentle yet effective remedy for jaundice, nausea, hepatitis infections (bacterial, viral or toxic), fatty degeneration of the liver, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn, gallbladder disorders and gallstones, gout and can help the body recover from a hangover and helps to protect the liver from the effects of alcohol intake. If the buds are eaten regularly as a vegetable, they will offer some protection from these conditions.
They also offer the liver protection from many toxic compounds, both man made and natural.
 
The leaves also provide food to beneficial bacteria in the bowel so provide an overall boost to health and can be useful in cases of candida or fungal infections.
 
Eating artichokes can also help to slow down the ageing process of skin, help prevent wrinkles and lessen the damaging effects on the skin caused by the sun.
 
Artichoke leaf can help to get the digestive juices flowing in order to ensure good digestion and may also be of help in cases of migraine.
 
The leaves are mildly diuretic, strengthening and tonic to the kidneys (increase urine output) and also encourage a greater excretion of nicotine in the urine. They also show promise as offering protection to the body herb the body from the damaging effects of cigarette smoking, such as lowering cadmium levels in the testicles of smokers.
 
Assists with the digestion of fats so can lower blood lipids and cholesterol, so can be useful in cases of 'high cholesterol', hypertension, obesity and can help you to shed excess weight.
 
Artichoke leaves are broadly antimicrobial and anti-fungal.
 
The leaves have also shown positive effects in inducing the death and preventing the proliferation of both leukaemia cells and liver cancer cells. Traditionally they have been used to treat tumours and cancers.
 
The leaves as a tea or tincture or the buds as food are useful food for non insulin-dependent diabetics as they lower blood sugar. This is because artichoke leaf encourages the break down of circulating fats instead of its conversion to glycogen in the liver.
 
Aids cell metabolism and detoxification of the bowel which make a useful food when on cleansing or detox type programmes.
 
 
 
 

dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions

*Artichoke leaf and flower bud are considered very safe and are of course eaten as a food.

*Artichoke leaf may reduce milk flow in breast feeding mothers.

*Can induce an allergic reaction with intestinal upsets in those sensitive to members of the daisy family and occasional contact dermatitis from touching the leaves has been observed.

*Due to its cholesterol lowering action caution should be taken if taking statins or other cholesterol lowering drugs

 

Adult 

Dried leaves in tea form: 1-2 teaspoons per cup, up to 3 cups daily.

Tincture: 1 teaspoon (5ml) up to 3 times a day, before meals.
Children
Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.

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