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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

aka Garden Artichoke
(Cynara scolymus)
Also: (C. cardunculus)

NOTE: Spelling of the scientific name varies. These include: scolymus, scolamus, scolimus.

DRUG INTERACTION: Can possibly enhance the activity of cholesterol lowering drugs.

CONTRAINDICATED: If allergic to other members of the Aster family, Artichoke could be a problem. Not used when bile duct obstruction or gallstones present.

CONTAINS: Source of vegetable protein, vitamin A, niacin, potassium, enzymes (leaves and roots) and iron, cynarin (compound which is found in leaves and improves liver and gall bladder function and lowers blood cholesterol levels), bitter principle (cynarin and sesquiterpene lactones), alkaloids, tannins, cynarase (milk-curdling enzyme), cyanose (aids digestion).

A perennial member of the compositae family native to the Mediterranean area and used since ancient times (known to have been used by ancient Greeks and Romans) as a vegetable (the unopened flower buds). More recently its medicinal effects have been noted. The tuberous root produces a stem that grows 3 to 5 feet high with alternate thistle-like leaves which are gray-green above and woolly-white beneath. Typical thistle-like flowers will develop from the bud. Introduced into Britain in the early 16th century as a vegetable and ornamental in monastary gardens.

PROPAGATION: By seed sown in spring or by side-shoots (suckers) in spring or autumn. Seed sown plants are considered to be more vigorous.
NEEDS: Deep, rich well-drained soil in full sun (for best production). Petal blight may affect flower heads. To get large heads it is recommended that all lateral heads be removed when egg-sized (these can be pickled). After the heads are harvested, the plant should be cut down. New beds should be sown annually since old beds tend to wear out after five years and new beds offer replacement plants at various stages of development.
HARVEST: Leaves before flowering for use fresh or dried in liquid extracts, syrups and tablets; flower heads are cut before the bracts open.
PART USED: Leaves, roots, flowerheads.


Bitter principle (cynarin and sesquiterpene lactones), slightly salty, cholagogue, diuretic and, in some countries is considered to be aphrodisiac.
Similar in liver action to Milk Thistle, Turmeric and Licorice root. Stimulates liver cell regeneration.
An anti-cholesterol drug - Cynara - is derived from this plant.
Has been used for cholesterol management; to reduce blood lipids, serum cholesterol and blood sugar.
Detoxifies and regenerates liver tissues, stimulates gall bladder, promotes bile flow.
Has been used internally for chronic liver and gall bladder diseases, jaundice, hepatitis, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, dyspepsia, liver insufficiency, chronic albuminuria, post-op anemia.
Has been used for gall bladder and biliary disease, chronic liver disease, and liver impairment, some kidney disease (possibly useful in nephrotic syndrome).
Extract of roots and leaves has been used to help prevent arteriosclerosis.
Tincture has been used to stimulate appetite.
Has been used to improve mental alertness; leaves seem to be pharmacologically active in the brain and portions of the central nervous system. (A prepared product of Artichoke/Garlic is available from: Old Amish Herbs, 4141 Iris St. North, St. Petersburg FL 33703.

All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully.
1 to 4 grains of the dried leaves, stems or roots taken 3 times daily.
TINCTURE FOR MANAGING CHOLESTEROL = Slightly crush and soak about 5¼ cups artichoke leaves in 2 pints of alcohol (or 80 or 100 proof vodka) for 10 days. Strain and take 1 Tbsp two times daily in between meals. Said to keep serum triglyceride levels low.
MENTAL ALERTNESS = Pull individual leaves from the artichoke and put into a jar with barely enough water to cover; set saucer on jar and stand it in a pan of boiling water for 2 hours, adding more water to pan as it boils away. Remove jar and strain contents, squeezing leaves well. Use 3 to 4 Tbsp of this infusion 3 times daily.
POTENT DIURETIC = Mix juice of artichoke with an equal quanity of wine.
SLIMMING HERBAL TEA (Maurice Messegue) = 1 handful cherry stalks, 1/2 handful artichoke leaves, 1 handful corn silk, 1 handful rose petals; infuse in 1 liter of water and drink 2 cups daily.

In Spain an apertif called Cynara is made from it. Considered a bitter tonic and is use for animals.
Artichoke is prepared for animals by removing the hairy inner core and giving it raw and finely sliced. It is used as a powerful digestive tonic and for kidney, bladder, diabetes and as an anemia remedy.
DOSE for animals = 2-3 globe heads daily along with several handfuls of leaves and cut-up stems.

The ray flowerets are used to curdle goat and sheep milk strongly enough to make a good hard cheese.
The unopened flower buds are boiled and eaten hot or cold and usually with a sauce of some type or melted butter.
The tender central leaf stalks can be blanched and eaten like cardoon.
Italians often eat them raw with salt, oil and pepper.
Leaves can be rubbed with olive oil and then a few slices of garlic tucked into the leaves and then steamed for 30-40 minutes.

©2000 by Ernestina Parziale, CH