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Cynara scolymus L. – Globe artichoke
Asteraceae – Aster family

The parts used in medicine include the fresh leaves and the herb of artichoke, harvested during blooming and dried in natural conditions.

Artichoke – appearance and origin:

Artichoke is a perennial originating from Ethiopia, grown in warm climates, especially the Mediterranean, as a refined strain of the wild artichoke. In Poland it is grown as an annual that does not bear fruit. It is seed propagated. The leaves are basal, forming a rosette, up to 1 m in length, bipinnatisect, covered wtih silver hairs. The flower head is a capitula with a fleshy receptacle and bracts; the flowers are blue-purple. It blooms from June to September.

Artichoke – effects and use:

The active subtsances in the artichoke include phenolic acids and their esters (0.02-2.0%): chlorogenic acid, cryptochlorogenic acid, neochlorogenic acid, 1,3-dicaffeoylquinic acid; organic acids: malic acid, succinic acid, citric acid, fumaric acid; flavonoids: luteolin 7-O-glucoside – cynaroside, and luteolin-7-O-rutinoside – scolymoside; guaiane-type sesquiterpene lactones: cynaropicrin, grosheimin, triterpenes, and mineral compounds.

Artichoke – choleretic and cholagogic

Artichoke and its preparations are recommneded for digestive symptoms, bile secretion disorders, as an additive for a low-fat diet in medium and moderate hyperlipidemia.

The artichoke herb is recommended for dyspeptic disorders due to its choleretic and cholagogic effect. In a controlled, double-blind clinical trial on 247 dyspeptic patients, 320 mg of artichoke extract twice a day was found to be effective. It was significantly more effective than placebo in relieving symptoms and improved the quality of life in patients with dyspeptic disorders.

Artichoke – anti-atherosclerotic

Many animal studies found that an artichoke extract lowered cholesterol and triglyceride levels and prevented the forming of atheromas in vessels.
Studies have also found that artichoke juice, by lowering the total cholesterol and LDL fraction levels, slightly increased the triglyceride level, but simultaneously significantly improved the function of the endothelium in patients with elevated cholesterol.

Artichoke – antioxidant

The artichoke herb contains mainly polyphenols which are strongly antioxidant, as many in vitro and in vivo studies have found. It is an important mechanism in the antiatherogenic activity of the herb and the protection against oxidative stress, caused by various factors. Also, artichoke's hepatoprotective effect, confirmed by numerous studies, results from the antioxidant properties of the active substances of artichoke.