Globe Artichoke

Globe Artichoke, Cynara scolymus, herb

Globe Artichoke | Cynara scolymus Compositae/Asteraceae.

Native to the Mediterranean, the globe artichoke is now cultivated all over western Europe. Although widely enjoyed as a vegetable since the 15th celltury, its medicinal powers tVere not recognised until the 20th century. The herbaceous perennial grows up to 1.5m tall, with a thick, upright, ridged stem. The large, jagged leaves are grey green, with a whitish down on their underside. Thistle-like, purple-green flowers surrounded by thick leaflike bracts appear in summer.

Parts used

  • Leaves and flowers
  • The leaves are picked, then dried and used in extracts, capsules, decoctions and tinctures.
  • The unopened flowerheads and fleshy bases are eaten as vegetables.


The leaves are rich in organic and phenolic acids, including the bitter, aromatic cynarin. They also contain sesquiterpene lactones, flavonoids, potassium salts, provitamin A and numerous enzymes.

Medicinal uses

Globe artichoke preparations are mainly used to treat digestive problems, especially those concerned with the liver and gall bladder.

In 2001 German scientists noted that the flavonoids in the plant's leaves could stimulate bile flow and encourage regeneration of liver cells. Earlier, the same team had also shown that the leaf extract can help to lower blood cholesterol levels. In 2002 Japanese researchers recorded the same effect and identified the sesquiterpene lactones as the active components.The flavonoids, assisted by the acids and potassium salts, also act as diuretics, easing kidney problems.


Sow globe artichoke seeds in early spring in rich, well-drained soil in a sunny spot. Protect plants from frost during a harsh winter.


  • Do not use any globe artichoke preparation to treat gallstones.
  • Taking globe artichoke is not recommended when breastfeeding, as it reduces the flow of milk.
  • The sesquiterpene lactones can cause allergic reactions, in which case, all globe artichoke preparations should be avoided.


For internal use

TO TREAT liver and kidney problems, high blood cholesterol and indigestion
DECOCTION Put 30-40g of dried leaves into 1 litre of boiling water. Infuse for 10 minutes. Strain and drink 3 cups a day, 15-20 minutes before meals. CAPSULES (50-100mg dry extract) Take 1-2 capsules, two or three times a day before meals. CAPSULES (300mg dried leaf extract) Take 1 capsule a day.

TINCTURE Put 500g of dried leaves into 1 litre of alcohol and leave for 15 days. Take 1-4 teaspoons in half a glass of water, three times a day.



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