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The Medicinal Benefits of the Artichoke: More Than a Pretty Face and Tasty Vegetable

Updated on November 28, 2011
a pretty artichoke
a pretty artichoke

The Medicinal Benefits of the Artichoke

The artichoke is more than just a pretty face and tasty vegetable - it also has a number of medicinal benefits. One therapeutic benefit is for the liver.

Not sure how to pick and eat an artichoke? No problem - see the link below.

First, a bit of history about the artichoke:

The artichoke belongs to the Asteraceae family, and includes the thistle. Also known as the globe artichoke and the garden artichoke, it should not be confused with the Jerusalem artichoke - a sunflower species.

Native to the Mediterranean, the artichoke was mostly known and used in Sicily about twenty-five hundred years ago. The plant was enjoyed, both as a food and a medicine, for the same reasons it is enjoyed and known to be beneficial today.

Wait! Aren't you thelistlady - shouldn't there be a list here?

Yes, yes, of course.

Below is a Question and Answer list about the benefits of Artichoke.

What parts are the most beneficial?

The most beneficial parts are the lower portions of the barbed scales and the flower.

When growing the artichoke, it does look like the thistle plant. Aren't they really the same?

They are members of the same family. In fact, in traditional European herbal medicine, the artichoke and the thistle were used interchangeably. The thistle, however, is known as the best herb for liver problems. The artichoke is considered nearly as beneficial.

What are the Medicinal Benefits?

1 - Liver Problems - The antioxidant benefits of the artichoke help to regenerate liver cells. During the 19th century, U.S. physicians encouraged the use of artichokes for liver diseases (and as an aphrodisiac). For centuries, artichoke juice was consumed in France as a traditional liver tonic.

2 - High Cholesterol - In juice or extract form, studies have shown artichoke to help lower cholesterol. This, in turn, reduces the risk of heart attack. An Italian study showed that a daily cup of artichoke juice not only lowered cholesterol, but also reduced deposits that narrowed the arteries.

3 - Indigestion - The German counterpart of the FDA approved fresh artichoke, the juice or the extract, to use for indigestion. The extract was particularly beneficial in helping people with chronic indigestion.

4 - Irritable Bowel Syndrome, also known as IBS - IBS causes chronic digestive problems such as abdominal pain and constipation. Because artichoke is good for indigestion (see number 3), research has shown it can help IBS sufferers.

5 - Antimicrobial Properties - Artichoke also has antimicrobial benefits. The plant inhibits the activity of some types of fungi and bacteria.

These benefits have been known for centuries - is there anything new?

Artichoke is showing medical possibilities in a variety of tests. Some studies show artichoke may reduce blood sugar for patients with diabetes and provide anti-inflammatory benefits as well. Artichoke may also reduce damage to testicular tissue.

Should I just use the extract form?

You can easily purchase artichoke extract online or at health food stores. But fresh food is always better. Enjoy artichokes by steaming for 30 to 45 minutes. Consider growing them if you have the space.

How about some growing tips?

- Growing artichokes requires 100 frost-free days

- Soil should be well-drained and compost-rich with a pH of 6.0

- Start seeds indoors during early spring and transplant after the last frost

- Water well to encourage large plants

- To propagate, take side roots or suckers from your best plants

- Flower buds appear in July in the southern U.S. and in August in the northern part of the U. S. and Canada

- Replace some of the older plants each year

The perennial artichoke plant can grow about 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

Any safety concerns?

Frequent contact with artichoke plants may cause skin irritation. Before using the extract as a medicine, you should consult you health-care provider.

How to pick and eat an artichoke and more healthy eating lists, see links below:


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    • TheListLady profile image

      TheListLady 4 years ago from New York City

      Hmmm I've been reading a lot about the benefits of artichoke juice. Thanks Like to read 88 for the tip!

    • profile image

      Like to read 88 4 years ago

      Add Your Comment.. Thanks for writing about the benefit of artichoke , the only way that I make the artichoke at home is boiled with a lot of water in about an hour and drink the juice .

    • TheListLady profile image

      TheListLady 4 years ago from New York City

      Suddenly I am craving an artichoke. Thanks for writing carol7777

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      We love artichokes so it is great to hear about all the benefits.

    • TheListLady profile image

      TheListLady 6 years ago from New York City

      Now I want an artichoke moonlake. Thanks for writing and the vote. Yay!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 6 years ago from America

      Love artichoke. Good information. Would love to be able to grow them. Voted up.

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 6 years ago

      Great list of medicinal benefits! I am looking forward to try this special vegetable. Voted up !!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I love this information. I wish I knew this early. Thanks for writing this. Rated up. Take care!

    • Sam9999 profile image

      Sam9999 6 years ago

      I never knew this about artichokes. Will definitely try some.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 6 years ago from Southern California

      I love, love, love artichokes, but I didn't know it was that beneficial. But I do need to try to find it in supplement form. Thanks so much for the very helpful hub. Voted up/useful!

    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 6 years ago from Holly, MI

      Super great information here! This is one food I always seem to forget about unless it's on a menu at a restaurant. I'm going to have to buy some and cook it up for myself!

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks so much for the link on how to eat - I've pretty much passed up artichokes because do you eat them and I do want fresh. I'm sold now - thanks a million and rated up! Yay!

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 6 years ago

      informative article. I will be trying this. Also helpful link to the article about instructions on how to eat it.