Artichoke (Yang Ji)Artichoke (Yang Ji)

Botanical Name: Globe Artichoke – Cynara cardunculus. Chinese Artichoke – Stachys affinis.

The globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) is not to be confused with the Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus) which are also called sunchokes and are actually sunflower roots, or Chinese artichokes (Stachys affinis also commonly called crosne or knotroot). Globe artichoke is a highly nutritious food, famous for its antioxidant and dietary fiber content.  The leaves are commonly made into extracts used to stimulate the flow of bile from the liver which helps relieve heartburn and alcohol “hangovers.” Artichokes are an excellent liver tonifying food and medicine.

Below is an overview of Artichoke (Yang Ji), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Artichoke (Yang Ji).

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Western Name: Artichoke

Also Known As: Globe Artichoke

Organs/Systems: Liver, Digestion

Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Antioxidant, Digestive, Anti-cancer. Regularity, improves cognitive abilities, supports liver health, helps prevent cancer.


Pin Yin: Yang Ji (Globe artichoke/Cynara cardunculus)

Also Known As: Chao Xian Ji (Chinese artichoke/Stachys affinis)

Meridians: Liver, Heart, Stomach

Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Cools Liver Heat: Headaches, digestive disorders, diarrhea, constipation, liver tonic. Tonifies Stomach: promotes healthy digestive cycle.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

Artichokes belong to the thistle family (Asteraceae). Globe artichokes have arching, deeply lobed, silvery-green leaves with beautiful light pink or purple flowers with large heads developing from the edible buds. The bud is composed of compactly arranged triangular scales in a whorl-fashion around a center “choke.” The plants can grow to be over three feet tall.

Native to the Mediterranean, the plant is now cultivated in many other areas of the globe.  In the U.S., nearly 100% of  artichoke cultivation is found in Monterey County, with the town of Castroville, claiming to be “The Artichoke Capital of the World.”

Artichoke (Yang Ji)Parts Most Frequently Used: Leaves, Heart, Stem, Flower

Flavors/Temps: Bitter, Sweet, Neutral

Caution: Considered safe.

History/Folklore: The globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) is not to be confused with the Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus) which are also called sunchokes and are actually sunflower roots, or Chinese artichokes (Stachys affinis also commonly called crosne, chorogi or knotroot).

Artichokes contain more antioxidants than dark chocolate, blueberries or cranberries. They are higher in dietary fiber than beans, peas, or oats, making them an excellent food improving digestive health and maintaining regular bowel movements.

The Ancient Greek and Romans recommended them as a medicine and healthy food. According to legend the Greek god Zeus turned his object of affection into a thistle, the family of plants that artichokes belong to. Despite their prickly appearance they used the plants as an aphrodisiac, diuretic, breath freshener and deodorant.

In Ethiopia, artichoke leaves are often used today to relieve dyspepsia or indigestion.

The Dutch introduced artichokes to England, where they grew in the garden of Henry VIII’s home in Newhall.

Spanish immigrants brought them to California in the 19th century.

In China, globe artichokes (Cynara cardunculus) are also enjoyed as a food and medicine. They also have an entirely different plant called Chinese artichoke (Stachys affinis). Chinese artichoke (Stachys affinis) is a perennial herbaceous plant, native to China whose rhizomes and roots can be eaten as a root vegetable. The tubers are pale beige to ivory-white in color and full of convulsions and indentations. They are harvested in the fall season. These tubers have a nutty flavor, and can be boiled and sauteed as a side dish. In China and Japan they are primarily pickled. The Chinese artichoke is not used as a medicine, only the globe artichoke is used both as a medicine and food.

Artichokes are low in calories. A medium sized artichokes contains only 60 calories and is super high in antioxidants and dietary fiber.  The high dietary content not only improves digestion, but helps aid the body to naturally detox, fighting off the dangerous visceral fat that accumulates around your organs and leads to various diseases, including obesity, diabetes and heart related illnesses.

Artichokes make the top 10 list for foods rich in antioxidants, helping to prevent cancers and prevent inflammation that can cause aging, heart and other disorders. The powerful antioxidant silymarin found in artichoke has been shown to positively influence liver health, boosting liver function by stimulating cell regeneration and clearing free radicals from the system.

Artichokes boost the production of digestive bile and nourishing the digestive tract. Artichoke leaf has been shown to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, bloating and upset stomachs. 1 teaspoon of liquid extract mixed with water, or 15-30 drops of tincture taken 3x per day is a typical dose for treating stomach disorders.

Artichoke leaves are dried whole or cut before being used in herbal remedies. They are available in dried, powdered, extract and tincture forms.

Artichoke is the primary flavor in the 33-proof Italian liqueur called Cynar, produced exclusively by the Campari Group as an aperitif served over ice, or mixed with orange juice.

Key Constituents:

Anthocyanins, Quercetin, Rutin, Vitamin K and C, Potassium, Folic acid, Manganese, Cynarine Sesquiterpene-lactones,Silymarin, Caffeic acid, Ferulic acid, Copper, Calcium, Phosphorous, Flavonoids.

Did you know?


The constituent cynarine, inhibits the taste receptors, making water, and other foods and drinks, seem sweet.


Still Wild

Wild artichokes can still be found in some parts of North Africa.

Fun fact!


“Artichoke tea” is a commercial product of Vietnam and Romania. The flower is steeped in boiling water for a tea called “alcachofa” made in Mexico.


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