The artichoke plant and its extract
There are several species of artichokes that stand out on the basis of the color of the flower head, the presence of more or less robust thorns and on the basis of the cultivation cycle, dividing between autumn and spring varieties. The artichoke plant was already known by the ancient peoples as a wild plant; it took centuries to reach the domestic cultivation of the artichoke and it seems that it began precisely in Italy, especially in Sicily around the first century. Still, Sicily is one of the Italian regions most producing artichokes, together with Sardinia and Puglia. The most widespread and known use of the artichoke is the culinary one, but its extract has beneficial effects on the organism and is also used in the pharmacological field. As for its use in the kitchen, the artichoke is highly appreciated for its low calorie content, which makes it a perfect food in slimming diets, and for the multiplicity of types of cooking to which it lends itself. In the pharmacological field, on the other hand, artichoke extract is widely used, which has numerous effects on the organism, especially on the liver. The artichoke extracts can be obtained from different parts of the plant but the most used is the dry one, obtained from the Cauline leaves. The dry artichoke extract is the most beneficial of all the preparations extracted from the artichoke. Normally, this type of extract is sold in the form of capsules and it is easy to find them in herbal medicine or in homeopathic pharmacies.
The active ingredients of the dry extract of artichoke
All the substances contained in the artichoke are present in high concentration in the plant extract. The main substances that make up the artichoke are water, carbohydrates and fibers, whose positive action acts in particular on the intestine. The artichoke contains several minerals, such as potassium, sodium, calcium and phosphorus. The vitamin content of the artichoke is very important. The plant, in fact, contains vitamins B1, B3 and C. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is essential for the metabolism as it takes part in the process of transforming sugars into energy and vitamin B3 (niacin) has an important role in the functioning of the gastrointestinal system, while vitamin C (ascorbic acid) performs various functions related to the immune system and the strengthening of blood vessels, bones and muscles because it is involved in the synthesis of collagen. The therapeutic effects of the artichoke extract, however, are due in particular to the presence of secondary metabolites such as cinarin and flavonoids.