Cynara scolymus

 

Cynara scolymus

Synonyms

No documentation.

Vernacular Name

Alcachofera, Artichoke, Globe Artichoke, French Artichoke.

Description

Cynara scolymus is a perennial thistle of the family Asteraceae.  The plant grows from a short rhizome and has a strong, fleshy glabrous stalk to reach a height of up to 2m.  The large leaves of  C.  scolymus are deeply lobed and glabrous in shape.  The sometimes doubly pinnate leaves are lanceolate, light green in colour and can reach from measuring 50cm to over 80cm in length.  C.  scolymus produces large, edible flower bud with triangular scales which can vary in colour from red to green to purple.  The flower buds can grow to measures of 12cm in diametre and are most edible before bloom.  When the C.  scolymus blooms, it produces large, brilliantly purple flowers.  The flowers open the buds and can grow to be up to 18cm in diametre.

Origin / Habitat

Although the exact origin of C.scolymus is unknown, it is thought to be native to the Mediterranean area.  C.  scolymus can grow in a variety of soils, as long as they are well drained.  It can tolerate high winds but it cannot grow in full sunlight.

Chemical Constituents

Caffeic acid, caffeoylquinic acids (chlorogenic acid, cynarin), flavone glycosides (including luteolin), phytosterols [1].

Plant Part Used

Leaf [5].

Traditional Use

Traditionally, C.  scolymus has been used as a remedy for liver and gallbladder problems.  In different regions of South and Central America, uses include high cholesterol, anemia, fever and gout.  It has been used as a remedy for a variety of digestive complaints.  Regardless of the region, there is a consistency of use as a hepatoprotective agent, treatment for gall bladder ailments and topically as an astringent [2] [3] [4].

Pharmacology

Pre-clinical

Much of the pharmacological activity of the leaves has been attributed to the presence of cynarin, but chlorogenic acid has also been reported to be active in the body, particularly as an antioxidant [5].The relative proportion of these compounds varies with the strain, age, and generation of the plant. Cynarin is found in the highest concentrations in the leaves [6].

Another constituent in C.  scolymus is caffeic acid. The metabolism and excretion of this constituent has been further studied. After the absorption and metabolism of the caffeic acid esters are found in C.  scolymus, they are excreted as methylated phenolic acids including ferulic, isoferulic, dihydroferulic, and vanillin acid [7].

C.  scolymus has been reported to have significant liver protecting and regenerating effects [8].In one study, the authors concluded that C.  scolymus had hepatoprotection after exposure of laboratory animals to the liver toxic substance tetracholoromethane [9].Some of the hepatoprotective qualities of C.  scolymus seem to be linked to its anti-oxidant capacity, due mainly to the chlorogenic acid content in the leaves. Another possibility for its liver protection function is the cynarin content, which is claimed to restore healthy growth and reproduction of liver cells [10]. The anti-oxidant effect has been further supported by laboratory studies in both human and animal cells [11] [5].

Clinical

C.  scolymus is also reported to have a stimulant activity on bile production in the liver; termed choleretic action [10].Alchofra stimulates the flow of bile juices aids in breaking down hard to digest fats, thereby increasing digestion and the absorption of nutrients. Studies have reported that when patients with dyspeptic complaints take C.  scolymus as a supplement, symptoms rapidly disappear, reducing pain, nausea, retching and the sensation of fullness [12] [13]. The constituent cynarin has been stated to be most active in this capacity.

C.  scolymus leaf extract (ALE) may have potential for treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as well. In a study evaluating the use of ALE in dyspeptic patients, a small subset was identified as having IBS. This subset had the severity of their symptoms reduced and provided an overall favorable evaluation of the extract. As many as 96% of the subset claimed that C.  scolymus leaf extract was well tolerated and that it worked at least as well as other therapies used for their symptoms [14].

C.  scolymus products have been reported to lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels in humans and animals [15] [16]. The net effect of C.  scolymus is claimed to be the result of both an inactivation of and an interference with cholesterol metabolism. Cynarin reportedly decreases the rate of cholesterol synthesis in the liver, enhances biliary excretion of cholesterol, and increases conversion towards the bile acids [17].One study examined the free radical scavenging properties of a luteolin-rich C.  scolymus extract and some of its pure flavonoid constituents by assessing their ability to prevent LDL oxidation in vitro [18]. C.  scolymus extract retarded LDL oxidation in a dose-dependent manner, with the authors concluding that the anti-oxidant activity of C.  scolymus extract relates in part to its constituent flavonoids. There have been a few reports that C.  scolymus has no lipid reducing effect in familial Type II hyperlipoproteinemia [19]. A recent, double blind, randomised, placebo controlled, multi-center clinical study in 143 adult patients reported that a dry C.  scolymus extract (25-35:1 w/v) lowered blood cholesterol levels. Changes of total cholesterol and LDL Cholesterol from baseline to the end of treatment showed a statistically significant superiority of C.  scolymus dry extract over placebo (18.5% vs. 8.6% respectively). LDL/HDL ratios were also reduced [20].

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.

Interaction with Drugs

No documentation.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

Some individuals may experience an allergic reaction [21].Use with caution if the individual is allergic to the daisy or chrysanthemum family (Composite) [22].

Discontinue if allergy occurs.

Pregnancy

Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

Read More

  1) Medicinal Herbs

References

  1. Dranik LI. Quantitative Analysis of Cynarin in the Leaves of the Artichoke. Germany: Farm Zh; 1965;20(5):56-59.
  2. Taylor L. The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs:  A Guide to Understanding and Using Herbal Medicinal. New York: Square One Publishers;2005.114.
  3. Duke JA. Medicinal Plants of Latin America. New York: Taylor and Francis; 2009.721.
  4. Roth I, Lindorf H. South American Medicinal Plants: Botany, Remedial Properties and General Use. Germany: Springer Publications;2002.8.
  5. Gebhardt R. Antioxidative and Protective Properties of Extracts from Leaves of the Artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) Against Hydroperoxide-induced Oxidative Stress in Cultured Rat Hepatocytes. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. Jun1997;144(2):279-286.
  6. Maros T, et al. Effects of Cynara Scolymus Extracts On The Regeneration of Rat Liver. Arzneim-Forsch Drug/Res. Feb1966;16(2):127-129.
  7. Rechner AR, Pannala AS, Rice-Evans CA. Caffeic acid derivatives in artichoke extract are metabolised to phenolic acids in vivo. Free Radic Res. Aug2001;35(2):195-202.
  8. Adzet T, et al. Hepatoprotective Activity of Polyphenolic Compounds From Cynara scolymus Against CCl4 Toxicity in Isolated Rat Hepatocytes. J Nat Prod. Jul1987;50(4):612-617.
  9. Maros T, et al. Effect of Cynara Scolymus-Extracts on the Regeneration of Rat Liver. 2. Arzneim-Forsch/Drug Res. Jul1968;18(7):884-886.
  10. Khadzhai I, et al. Effect of Artichoke Extracts on the Liver. Farmakol Toksikol. Nov1971;34(6):685-687.
  11. Perez-Garcia F, Adzet T, Canigueral S. Activity of artichoke leaf extract on reactive oxygen species in human leukocytes. Free Radic Res. Nov2000;33(5):661-665.
  12. Newall C A, et al. Herbal Medicine: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. Cambridge:Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:36-37.
  13. Marakis G, Walker AF, Middleton RW, Booth JC, Wright J, Pike DJ. Artichoke leaf extract reduces mild dyspepsia in an open study. Phytomedicine. Dec2002;9(8):694-699.
  14. Walker AF, Middleton RW, Petrowicz O. Artichoke leaf extract reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in a post-marketing surveillance study. Phytother Res. Feb2001;15(1):58-61.
  15. Kirchhoff R, et al. Increase in Choleresis by Means of Artichoke Extract. Phytomedicine. 1994;1:107-115.
  16. Wegener T, Fintelmann V. Pharmacological Properties and Therapeutic Profile of Artichoke. Wien Med Wochenschr. 1999;149(8-10):241-247.
  17. Wojcicki J, et al. The Influence of Cynarine on Serum Lipids in Patients Affected With Diabetes Mellitus. Pun Med. 1974;16:127-129.
  18. Brown JE, Rice-Evans CA. Luteolin-rich Artichoke Extract Protects Low Density Lipoprotein from Oxidation In Vitro. Free Radic Res. Sep1998;29(3):247-255.
  19. Heckers H, et al. Inefficiency of Cynarin as Therapeutic Regimen in Familial Type II Hyperlipoproteinaemia. Atherosclerosis. Feb1977;26(2):249-253.
  20. Englisch W, et al. Efficacy of Artichoke dry extract in patients with hyperlipoproteinemia. Arzneimittleforschung. Mar2000;50(3):260-265.
  21. Meding B. Allergic Contact Dermatitis from Artichoke, Cynara scolymus. Contact Dermatitis. Jul1983;9(4):314.
  22. PDR for Herbal Medicines, 2nd ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company; 2000:45.