Authors: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer, Prof. Dr. med. Martina Bacharach-Buhles

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Last updated on: 17.03.2023

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artichoke (engl.); cynara scolymus

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One of the oldest vegetable plants in the world belonging to the composite family (Compositae). Cultivated in the Mediterranean area and in many other countries as a vegetable plant. Already known to the Greeks and Romans. Introduced to Central Europe about the 16th century, and later to America. Original origin probably Ethiopia, in the meantime cultivated plant in Europe, USA, North Africa, South America.

Traditional herbal medicinal product for mild digestive disorders.

Phytotherapeutically used are the dried leaves of annual artichokes (artichoke leaves - Cynarae folium), but also the fresh plant press juice.

Field of application/use
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Cynara scolymus contains phenolic carboxylic acids, especially (about 15) derivatives of caffeic acid and cyanarin, as well as various bitter substances such as the sesquiterpene lactone cynaropicrin. Bitter substances such as the sesquiterpene lactone cynaropicrin, furthermore various flavonoids and monsaccharides. Flavonoids and monsaccharides.

Medicinal use: Artichoke extracts (see Cynarae folium) are offered in more than 40 finished preparations (e.g. as juice, tincture) as lipid reducers and to stimulate bile production.

The diuretic and choleretic effect is attributed to the ingredient cynarin.

Functional dyspepsia, i.e. feeling of fullness after eating, early feeling of satiety, upper abdominal pain, indisposition and burning of the stomach.

Because of its bitterness, extracts of artichokes are made into fortified wine in Spain and Italy as a stimulant of gastric secretion (aperitif).

Recent studies suggest lowering of postprandial blood glucose levels and highly significant lowering of fasting blood glucose levels in diabetics.

Cosmeticuse: In cosmetic preparations Cynara scolymus extract (INCI) is used as a skin-protecting substance.

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Preparation-specific, general 3 x 300 mg dry extract

Undesirable effects
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Up to seven sesquiterpene lactones are present in the artichoke. The sensitising effect has so far only been shown for cynaropizine and Grosheimin. Sensitizing potency: Medium strong. Frequency of sensitization: Occasional.

Clinical picture
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A variety of cross-reactions to 49 different other composite species, including chrysanthemum, arnica, chamomile and pyrethrum, have been observed in artichoke pickers with occupational allergic contact dermatitis. Composite allergy sufferers are therefore also at risk of recurrence on contact with artichokes. Hand eczema is frequent.

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  1. Wegener T et al (2017) Effects of pressed juice from artichoke flower buds in metabolic syndrome. Z Phytother 5: 206-211
  2. Wegener T et al (1995) Artichoke leaf extract - lipid lowering on a plant basis. Physicians Journal Naturheilverfahren 36: 378-389.
  3. Winter Y et al (2009) Reliable effects of pressed juice from artichoke flower buds on digestive complaints- results of a practical therapy study. Z Phytother 30: 111-116
  5. Wenigmann M. (2017) Phytotherapy medicinal drugs, phytopharmaceuticals, application. Urban & Fischer, pp.72-73