Globe artichoke

Cynara scolymus

A perennial herb that grows to 1.5m (5ft). It has a tuberous root similar to Jerusalem artichoke but the large flower-bulbs make up the edible portion of the plant. The flower resembles a large thistle with corollas of a rich blue/green colour.

Family: Asteraceae

Which probiotic is it in?: Globe artichoke is a key herb in Detox

Habit and cultivation: Native to the Mediterranean and North Africa. It may be grown from seed in early spring or by planting suckers in late spring. Soil should be rich and moist or sandy. Warm temperate climate is preferable but will need watering if it gets too dry. The unopened flower heads and leaves are picked in early summer.

Actions (known for): bitter tonic/digestive, cholagogue, choleretic, diuretic, hepatoprotective, hepatorestorative, hepatotonic, and hypocholesterolaemic.


The ancient Greeks and Romans placed high value on this plant. Dioscorides (1st century AD) advised applying the mashed root under the arms and anywhere else that one suffered from body odour. It is one of the oldest cultivated vegetables. The French and Germans boil the heads whereas the Italians usually eat them raw with oil and pepper.

Parts used:

Leaves, bitterest just before flowering. The cynarin content increases if the leaves are continually harvested.

Constituents (bio available chemicals):

Tannins, mucilage, volatile oil, resins and saponins.

Nutritional constituents:

Minerals: High in iron, magnesium, potassium and sulphur.


Allergies/sensitivities, digestive weakness, gall stones (cholelithiasis), gall bladder disorders, high cholesterol, liver damage and liver insufficiency.


Infusion: 1 – 2tsp of dried leaves and flowers infused for 10 – 15mins and drunk.

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia

Cautions for therapeutic doses

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