Artichoke : Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Artichoke Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

The artichoke comes mainly from Europe. Today’s species is a cultivar cultivated as a garden plant since ancient times. The medicinally used drug comes mainly from leaf cultures in Franconia, Brandenburg, Thuringia and Brittany, as well as from southern and south-eastern European countries.

What is the medicine made from?

In herbal medicine, the fresh or dried, whole or cut leaves of the artichoke (Cynarae folium) are used. The roots, the flower buds or pressed juice from fresh parts of the plant are also used less frequently. Common medicines usually contain dry extracts obtained from fresh artichoke leaves.


Artichoke: characteristics of the plant

The artichoke is a vigorous perennial plant that grows up to 2 m high and resembles a thistle in appearance. It bears sizeable grey-green foliage leaves, showy flower heads, outer green bracts and inner blue-purple tubular flowers. The plant forms a basal rosette of leaves in the first year and a long stalk in the second year with sizeable purple flower heads.

Artichoke as a vegetable

The flower heads, harvested before they open, are commonly used as vegetables. In particular, the fleshy base (“artichoke heart”) is considered a special treat.


What does the drug do?

The cut drug consists of felt-like, grey-green leaf balls, petioles and leaf vein fragments. The undersides of the leaves are hairy grey, while the tops of the leaves are glabrous and green. The leaf veins can also be seen on the underside.

Artichoke leaves smell faintly aromatic and slightly acrid. The taste of the drug is slightly salty, while the aftertaste is bitter.

Artichoke – application


Use artichoke

Artichoke leaves and extracts from them are primarily taken to treat digestive problems. Specifically, the drug is suitable for relieving flatulence and, in particular, for disorders of bile drainage since the ingredients in artichoke leaves increase bile flow. However, in the case of gallbladder diseases, such as gallstones, the drug should only be taken after a medical examination. Since artichoke leaves are detoxifying and liver protective, they are also used to strengthen the liver.

Artichoke is traditionally used to support the digestive function and for loss of appetite. According to experience and patient studies, the plant is also said to reduce the fat and cholesterol levels in the blood, which is why it is also used to treat elevated blood fat levels (hyperlipidemia).


Used in folk medicine and homeopathy

In folk medicine, artichoke is used as a bile and diuretic. In addition, the leaves are also used to treat high blood lipid levels and to protect the liver.

The homoeopathic field of application includes, in particular, chronic liver-gallbladder disorders.

Artichoke and its ingredients

Artichoke leaves contain numerous phenolic carboxylic acids. These include caffeic acid, caffeoylquinic acid derivatives such as chlorogenic and neochlorogenic acid and caffeoylquinic acid derivatives such as cynarin. Other active ingredients of the drug are bitter sesquiterpene lactones with the main component cynaropicrine and various flavonoids such as rutin and luteolin.


Artichoke: for which indication?

Artichoke is suitable for treatment in the following indications:

  • indigestion
  • indigestion
  • gas
  • loss of appetite
  • disorders of the biliary system
  • Hyperlipidämie
  • high blood fat levels

Artichoke – dosage


Artichoke: dosage and presentation

Artichoke leaves can be taken as a tea and part of some digestive tea mixtures on the market. Herbal medicines contain aqueous dry extracts of the drug (300-400 mg) in various mono and combination preparations. These are offered in tablets, capsules, dragees, and drops.


Average daily dose

Unless otherwise prescribed, the average daily dose is around 6 g of the drug.

Preparation of artichoke tea and storage

To prepare an artichoke tea, one teaspoon of the finely chopped drug is poured with boiling water, left to stand for 10 minutes, and passed through a tea strainer. A cup of tea should then be drunk before each meal.

The drug should be stored dry and protected from light.


Contraindications: when artichoke is not suitable

Due to insufficient clinical documentation, artichoke supplements should not be taken by young children or during pregnancy and lactation. Other contraindications are a known allergy to artichokes or other composite plants and a complete obstruction of the bile ducts. In general, a doctor should be consulted first for gallbladder problems.

Artichoke – Synonyms


German plant name: artichoke

German synonyms of the plant: Real artichoke, green artichoke, French artichoke, spherical artichoke

Latin plant name: Cynara scolymus L.

Latin synonyms of the plant: Cynara cardunculus, Cynara cardunculus L. ssp. Flavescens WILKLUND

German drug name: artichoke leaves

Latin drug name: Cynar leaf

Latin synonyms of the drug: Folia Cynarae

English name: Artichoke leaf (Droge); Globe artichoke, Garden artichoke (Pflanze)

Plant family Latin: Asteraceae

Plant family German: Korbblüts


Artichoke – effect

How does artichoke work?

The stimulation of bile production and the liver-protective properties of artichokes are probably due to the content of cynarin, chlorogenic and neochlorogenic acids. Cynarin is also believed to be responsible for lowering blood lipid levels. Due to these favourable properties, artichoke leaves could be of great importance in the treatment of hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis).

The improvement in digestive performance and appetite stimulation is probably based on the chloropicrin content.


Artichoke: side effects and interactions

There are currently no known side effects from taking artichoke supplements.

Taking anticoagulant drugs of the coumarin type at the same time can affect their effect. This should be checked regularly by a doctor.

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