The majority of asteraceae are herbaceous plants or exceptionally tree shrubs.
Many are found in temperate regions; they are less numerous in tropical regions.
It is a large family of over 20,000 species.
The artichoke is a large asteraceae, native to the Mediterranean.
It is perennial (flowers appear only in the second year of cultivation), with long leaves arranged in a rosette, not spiny but reinforced by visible veins.
The flowers, more or less blue or purplish, are grouped to form a "capitulum" 8 to 16 cm in diameter which is carried by a sturdy stem, fluted and hollow, often branched.
The basal part of the compound flower (the receptacle) and the fleshy base of the bracts (small leaves that surround the flower) are edible after cooking.
The artichoke leaf is the medicinal part.
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES
The young leaves are :
- pressed to provide a juice that will be purified ,
- dried quickly, fragmented and macerated in a traditional way (alcoholic tincture),
- pulverized after passing through liquid nitrogen (-190 ° C).
The active compounds appear to be phenolic acids, derived from caffeic acid (5-caffeylquinic acid and 1-5-dicaféylquinique).
There are also (without prejudging their importance in the phytomedicine) :
- common organic acids (malic, citric, succinic),
- sesquiterpene lactones (cynaropicrin), which give bitterness to artichoke extracts,
- as well as flavonoids derived from luteolol and apigenol.
Experiments in rats show :
- in vitro, that phenolic acids (derived from caffeic acid) were hepatoprotective, protecting liver cells (hepatocytes) against the toxicity of carbon tetrachloride,
- in vivo, that the rate of secretion of bile is increased without net increase of vesicular contractions (choleretic effect).
For some authors the flavonoids alone would be the active compounds.
Other studies, in animals, revealed a cholesterol-lowering effect of the total extracts as well as an amphocholeretic effect (increased secretion and excretion of the bile).
In humans, it is considered that artichoke extracts are mainly choleretic and slignthly decrease the level of blood cholesterol and triglycerides.
The liver gland (the liver) is not just a digestive gland (indirectly responsible for the absorption of fat), it is a detoxifying organ, regulator of blood glucose but also of blood lipids, metabolizing substances foreign to the body (medicines for example), storing vitamins etc. hence the importance of its smooth operation.
Many undesirable substances in the human body are excreted in the bile after transformation or glucuronidation. It explains the importance of drugs increasing bile production..
Artichoke extracts (cynara) are therefore recommended:
- when an increase in biliary secretion seems desirable or to restart a deficient liver activity: following viral hepatitis or toxic jaundice (medicated, alcoholic, accidental or occupational chronic intoxications),
- to control blood lipid abnormalities: high level of cholesterol or triglycerides ,
- in combination with other hepatobiliary phytomedicines (boldo, rosemary, kinkeliba) in case of dyspeptic disorders due to insufficient secretion or biliary excretion (bloating, slow digestion of fat, chronic constipation).
Example of posology :
- Cynara alcoholic tincture, 50 to 150 drops a day,
- Freeze-dried artichoke powder: 600 to 800mg per day,
- Artichoke juice dry extract: 1g per day,
- And even intramuscularly or intravenously, purified extract of artichoke: 100 mg 1 to 2 times a day.
ARTICHOKE LEAVES To increase biliary secretion and excretion
Plant native to the Mediterranean rim, the artichoke is cultivated for the edible parts of the flower
(heart of artichoke and fleshy base of "leaves" of artichoke).
It is also an important medicinal plant, its young leaves has the property to increase the secretion of bile by the liver and its flow through the bile ducts thus promoting detoxification of the body, better digestion of fat and controlling constipation.
It's also lowers blood cholesterol and helps reduce blood pressure.
Many phytomedicines contain artichoke extracts.
Copyright 2019 : Dr Jean-Michel Hurtel