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Artichoke

SCIENTIFIC NAME(S):Cynara scolymus L., C. Cardunculus ,Family Compositae or Asteraceae

COMMON NAME(S): Globe artichoke, garden artichoke, alcachofra (Brazil)

The artichoke is one of the worlds oldest vegetables. It has been used traditionally as food and as a medicinal herb for its diuretic and digestive properties.

History

The artichoke has been cultivated for thousands of years.In the first century AD, Dioscorides recommended applying mashed roots on the body to sweeten offensive odors.

The artichoke was used as food and medicine by ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. The artichoke appeared in Europe in the 15th century.The botanical name is derived in part from the tradition of fertilizing the plant with ashes,and partly from the Greek skolymos, meaning "thistle" from the spines found on the bracts (they are not leaves) that enclose the flower heads forming the edible portion of the plant. The French have used artichoke juice as a liver tonic. The herb's abilities to break down fat and improve bile flow have been recognized. Artichoke has been used traditionally to treat a variety of conditions including hepatic diseases, jaundice, dyspepsia, and chronic albuminuria. It has also been used as a diuretic and to manage postoperative anemia.The flower head is cooked and eaten as a delicacy. The flower contains a sweetener that enhances flavor perception, while the leaves contain bitter principles that are used in the preparation of aperitif liqueurs

Botany :- The artichoke is a member of the daisy family. It is a perennial herb, widely cultivated in the Mediterranean regions and adjoining parts of central Europe. This well-known plant grows to a height of approximately 2 meters. It has a strong, erect stem and its large leaves are lobed and graygreen. The edible flower bud is purple green in color, and has scales or bracts that enclose it. The plant blooms from July to August.

Uses of Artichoke

Artichoke has been used for its antioxidant and GI soothing effects. It also may have cytoprotective actions in the liver and hypocholesterolemic effects. Artichoke may used to improve eczema and other dermatologic problems, for stomach acid problems (indigestion), and to reduce swelling due to excess fluid accumulation.

Side Effects of Artichoke

Artichoke can cause allergic reactions, most commonly dermatitis.

Drug interactions
Artichoke may increase the effect of cholesterol-lowering agents.

Dosage

The German Commission E recommends 6 g of the dried herb or its equivalent per day, usually divided into 3 doses.

Toxicology

In a 143-patient study, no adverse events were reported from artichoke administration, indicating excellent tolerability of dry extract. Frequent contact with artichoke and other compositae family plants, however, has caused allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Reports of contact dermatitis and urticaria syndrome from occupational contact with artichoke have been documented, identifying the responsible components as cynaropicrin and other sesquiterpene lactones.

According to the German Commission E Monographs, contraindications to the use of artichoke include allergy to compositae family plants and any bile duct obstruction. Presence of gallstones warrants a physician's consultation. Lack of toxicity data suggests limiting use of artichoke during pregnancy and lactation

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