- Cynara scolymus L.
- Composite family
Parts Usually Used
Flower heads, leaves, root
Description of Plant(s) and
Artichoke is a perennial plant; its tuberous root produces a stem from 3-5 feet high, with alternate, thistle-like leaves that are grayish-green above and woolly white underneath. The blue flowers are enveloped in the familiar globular heads of purplish-green, spiny scales which terminate the main branches. The flower heads, picked before maturity, are the dinner table vegetable fare. Flowering time varies from spring to mid-summer, depending on the warmth of the climate.
Grows in the Mediterranean area and the Canary Islands and is widely cultivated elsewhere as a food plant.
Cholagogue, diuretic, tonic
Legends, Myths and Stories
The flower or head of the artichoke, commonly known as the heart, is reputed to be an aphrodisiac, although this claim has never been scientifically proven. Through the years, various studies worldwide have shown that people's blood cholesterol levels dropped after eating artichoke. In fact, an anticholesterol drug called cynara is derived from this herb. In 1940, a study is Japan showed that artichoke not only reduced cholesterol but it also increased bile production by the liver and worked as a good diuretic.
Native Americans of the Missouri River Valley region cultivated artichokes along with the squash, beans, corn, etc.
Extracts of the leaves and root are helpful in arteriosclerosis, jaundice, dyspepsia, liver insufficiency, chronic albuminuria, and postoperative anemia, reduces cholesterol blood levels. In some countries, considered an aphrodisiac.
Formulas or Dosages
To make a delicious, heart-healthy treat, rub the leaves with olive oil and tuck a few slices of garlic in the leaves. Steam for 30-40 minutes. Remember that the benefits of this vegetable will be lost if you douse it in melted butter, which is high in saturated fat, or in margarine, which is high in calories.
Iron, phosphorus, potassium, niacin and vitamin A