Family > Compositae; Asteraceae.

Habitat > Monastery gardens of Europe. Now cultivated in India.

English > Globe Artichoke.

Unani > Harshaf.

Action > Herb—antitoxic, liver restorative, hypocholesterolaemic. Water soluble extract is used for liver and renal diseases for its cholagogic and choleretic action (flow of bile increases up to 60 per cent). Artichokes assist digestion of fats, are known as diabetic’s potato in Europe.

Key application > In dyspeptic problems. (German Commission E.) The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia reported hepatic action.

All parts of the plant contains ses- quiterpene lactone cynaropecrin and inulin. The leaves contain cynarin. Hepatic activity of the leaves is due to polyphenols such as cynarin, caf- feoylquinic acid derivatives and flavon- oids. Cynarin and caffeic acid exhibited hepatoprotective activity in CCl4-treated rats. (A minimum of 1% polyphenols and 0.2% flavonoids in the dried leaves is required for the activity.)

The plant is included in indigenous compound formulations recommended for viral and drug-induced hepatitis. All parts of the plant stimulate digestive secretions, especially bile, and are used for the treatment of gallbladder problems. Plant is used as a diuretic in dropsy. The plant is also used against atherosclerosis and for lowering cholesterol levels.

The extract gave mixed results in preventing alcohol-induced hangover. (CMAJ, 169, 2003, 1269-73; Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, 2007.)

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