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Scientific Name: Cynara scolymus

Constituents:

  • Caffeic acid derivatives (chlorogenic acid, cynarin/isochlorogenic acid, mono-caffeoylquinic & di-caffeoylquinic acid, and scolymoside)
  • Sesquiterpene lactones (cynaropicrin, grosheimol & cynaratriol)
  • Flavonoids (rutin, luteolin, and anthocyanidins cyanidin, peonidin, and delphinidin)
  • Inulin (fructo-oligosaccharides: Very-long-chain inulin)
  • Volatile oil
  • Minerals & Vitamins

Medicinal actions:

  • Alterative
  • Antioxidant
  • Antimicrobial
  • Bitter
  • Cholagogue & choleretic
  • Cytotoxic
  • Diuretic
  • Hepatic (Hepatoprotective)
  • Hypoglycemic
  • Hypolipidemic (Anti-cholesterol)
  • Hypotensive

Mechanism of Action & Pharmacology:

  • Multiple compounds provide additive or synergistic pharmacological effects, including Polyphenolic caffeic acid derivatives (mono-caffeoylquinic and dicaffeoylquinic acids), and flavonoids (e.g. apigenin & luteolin).
  • Hypoglycemic activity seems to be mainly related to chlorogenic acid content, which is a potent inhibitor of glucose 6-phosphate translocase, an essential component of the hepatic glucose 6-phosphatase system which regulates the homeostasis of blood glucose and metabolism of carbohydrates.
  • Choleretic and hepatoprotective activities are thought to be related to sesquiterpene lactones. di-caffeoylquinic acid and cynarin content.
  • Sesquiterpene lactones (cynaropicrin and grosheimol) can inhibit Hepatitis C infection in humans and have demonstrated anti-tumorigenic effects.
  • Cynaropicrin is the major bitter compound present in highest concentrations in the leaves, thus partly responsible for holeretic & cholagogue actions partly due to bitter principle.
  • Inulin (fructo-oligosaccharide: Very-long-chain inulin) is a low-calorie fibre with positive effects on the gut microbiota. Most physiological changes that inulin induces in the host are effected by bacterial metabolites (Short chain fatty acids: acetate, propionate and butyrate), which acidify the colonic environment and is beneficial for certain bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, and detrimental to the growth of potential pathogenic species.
  • Cynarin & luteolin may play a role in reducing cholesterol via interference with cholesterol synthesis. Have also been shown to downregulate the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase in human coronary smooth muscle cells.

Pharmacy:

  • Infusion
  • Tincture
  • Capsule
  • As food in culinary applications

Safety & Toxicity Concerns:

  • Rare but possible allergic reactions in some individuals.
  • Avoid in active peptic ulcers, acute inflammation of the GIT, gallstones, and bile duct obstructions.
  • Allergic sensitivity to Asteraceae family.

Interactions:

  • Increases gut motility, thus may theoretically decrease the absorption of many drugs if taken simultaneously.
  • May enhance cholesterol-lowering agents due to additive effects (theoretical)

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