Globe Artichoke: 5 Health Benefits + How To Grow And Use Them


Globe artichoke is a perennial that is native to the Mediterranean region. The plant reaches about 1.5 metres and provides fruit (artichoke heads) and leaves that you can use for medicine or tea. It has been consumed as a food source for hundreds of years. The Greeks and Romans ate artichokes to help support their digestion and ensure regular bowel motions. The Egyptians used it to support reproductive ability and conception. We cover everything you need to know about globe artichoke in this blog, including its medicinal uses and how you can use it at home.

How to grow globe artichoke

Growing globe artichoke from seed can be tricky. If you give it a go, sow your seeds in late winter/early spring in individual pots and keep them inside where it’s warmer. Place them somewhere with lots of light, and once they have about five or six true leaves, you can place them outside to harden off. Then plant them out - usually in early summer. If you have pot-grown plants or rooted sections, known as suckers or offsets, you can plant these in spring or early summer.

The best place to plant globe artichoke is in good, sheltered soil, allowing plenty of space to grow. Globe can be relatively low maintenance, but it is a good idea to water it while flower heads are developing.

In winter, you can cut back the dead parts of the plant and leave the seed heads for the birds. Globe will produce a smaller crop the first year and then more each year as it becomes established. You can divide your plants every few years to revitalise the established plants.

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How to use globe artichoke

You can use both artichoke heads and leaves. The edible heads are immature, unopened flower buds which you can eat or use as a decoration. Each large bud has a globe-like shape and is similar to a pine cone, with different layers of dark green leaves that grow at the base of the stem. The leaves are large, spreading and pointed. They are quite soft to the touch and come off a thick, strong stem.

You can eat the fruit (the artichoke heads) and use the leaves for tea or make your own tinctures. The leaves are incredibly bitter, so you don't need a lot! You can use globe artichoke leaves fresh or dry them for future use. Globe is quite fluffy when you dry and crush the leaves, which can be quite surprising.


When to harvest globe artichoke

When harvesting artichoke heads for consumption, choose heads that are dark green and tightly packed. Cut the buds using clippers, leaving 2-3 inches of stem attached. You can harvest in early summer, and it will flower again later in the year (but it will be a smaller crop).

How to prepare and cook globe artichoke

Artichokes are not easy things to prepare! You need to cut off the stem and remove the bottom leaves. Then, cut off the top two centimetres of the artichoke. Snip off the pointy parts of the artichoke leaves to give them flat edges. You can rub a cut lemon all over the artichoke to stop it browning. Once prepared, fully submerge the artichoke in a large container with lemon, lemon juice and ice. Once all the prepared artichokes are ready and immersed in the water, you can cook them.

You can cook artichokes by boiling, steaming, microwaving or roasting them. If you want to roast them, remove the middle centre before you do. Cut the artichoke in half and carefully remove the centre petals and the ‘hairy’ part (a small spoon is excellent for this). Once cooked, you can add them to platters or have a dipping sauce that can go alongside the artichoke as is.


Health benefits of globe artichoke

Globe artichoke probably isn’t the first thing you think of when it comes to plants with amazing health benefits, but it has some incredibly powerful qualities.  Globe artichoke is one of the most bitter plants you can find. It is rich in cynarin and this bitter constituent helps give this plant the liver and digestive superpower support we know and love globe for. 

Globe artichoke is a beautiful plant that grows incredibly well down here in Ōtepoti (Dunedin) - we use locally grown organic globe artichoke! It makes a great addition to the garden and also gives us the flower bud (that is edible) plus the leaves which we use for our Liver Bitters.

Here are 5 health benefits of globe artichoke and why you might just want to include it in your day!

1. Globe artichoke supports liver function

Globe artichokes love your liver. Often bitter things have an affinity to livers, and globe it is well known for being incredibly bitter. This bitter taste activates your bitter taste receptors (that are found throughout your body) and this starts a chain of reactions within your body that helps support better liver function.

2. Globe artichoke is great for digestion

Globe artichoke benefits sluggish digestive systems. Modern diets and lifestyles can mean that sometimes your digestion can be less than reliable. Some people may find that they struggle with regular bowel movements and this can be uncomfortable and also means that the waste products (food, excess hormones, cellular waste products etc.) can not be eliminated efficiently. 

Globe artichoke helps with more efficient digestion by stimulating bile production and also allowing digestive ‘juices’ and enzymes to more efficiently break down food and digest fats and absorb vitamins from food as well. This makes it a great thing to have if you are struggling with regularity or if you are finding it hard to break food down.

3. Healthy blood sugar levels

Globe artichoke may help support healthy blood sugar levels as artichoke has been shown to slow down the activity of alpha-glucosidase, an enzyme that breaks down starch into glucose, potentially impacting blood sugar. This could be beneficial to you if you are looking to have balanced blood sugars, or are trying to reduce your reliance on sugar.

4. Globe artichoke is high in antioxidants

Globe artichokes have a high antioxidant content which helps support the body in recovery and reacting to living in the modern day and from free radical damage. Globe could be a great thing to include into your diet when you are travelling or feeling more stressed than usual. 

5. Helpful for IBS

Another globe artichoke benefit is that it can help with IBS like symptoms and reduce spasms, cramps or feelings of indigestion for those that are susceptible to impaired digestion. This can be helpful for you if you find that certain foods don't agree with you.

How to take globe artichoke

Globe artichoke is an amazing plant which can help support so many functions within your body, however as we have discussed it is bitter - which makes it a little hard to take and may be one of the reasons it’s kind of underrated. For those that do like bitter tastes, you could have it as a tea or a small amount as a tincture. 

How to make your own globe artichoke tea

To make globe artichoke tea, use a small amount of fresh or dried leaves. We suggest only using half a teaspoon (as it is very bitter). Add this to 150ml of hot water. You can slowly increase the amount if you wish, but start small and see how you go.

Try globe artichoke in our Liver Bitters

We wanted to make the benefits of globe artichoke as accessible as we could for you (even if you don’t like bitter flavours) - so we formulated our Liver Bitters which includes this amazing plant. The formulation also includes mānuka, orange peel and cardamom which all work synergistically to support healthy liver and digestive function. By combining with these other amazing plants we are able to make globe artichoke more palatable, making it easier to use frequently.
For those new to bitter tastes - try our bitters in a small amount of water first, then build up to having it straight.


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