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The Many Benefits of Artichokes

ArtichokesI’ll never forget the first time this Southern girl had an artichoke. I was in Junior High and my Mother decided it was time for us to upgrade our palettes. She steamed them and showed my sister and I how to peel the leaves, dip them in sauce, and eat them. For my Mother and sister, it was love at first bite! For me on the other hand – it left a bit to be desired. However, as I grew and became a Mother myself, teaching my children to try new and interesting foods, I found myself choking down an artichoke or two. Thanks to the American Botanical Council’s Herb Clip news service, I have discovered that artichokes are more than just a ‘tasty’ vegetable. In fact, artichokes have impressive medical benefits.

Way back in the 4th century B.C., the noted naturalist Theophrastus first described artichokes [Cynara Scolymus] botanically and noted that they help calm an upset stomach. The old boy was right: Modern research has shown that artichokes stimulate bile flow. Bile helps digest fats. Several clinical trials have shown that artichoke leaf extract soothes indigestion and helps relieve flatulence, nausea, and irritable bowel symptoms. In a few studies 87 to 98 percent of people who took artichoke extract [now that I could handle] said it worked as well as or better than other medicine they had taken for their gastrointestinal symptoms.

Artichoke also lowers cholesterol by speeding its elimination, in one recent European study, 44 people with a total cholesterol count above 220 mg /dl were given either artichoke leaf extract or a placebo. Those taking the herb enjoyed a significant cholesterol reduction, and the higher their cholesterol was at the beginning of the study, the greater the subsequent reduction.

Finally, artichokes contain compounds that help protect the liver from damage. This becomes surprising when you know that the plant is botanically related to milk thistle and contains compounds similar to silymarin, the collective name for the potent liver-protectors found in that herb.

I suppose in addition to eating the leaves as a vegetable, you can use the hearts and crowns in salads and cooking. So eat your vegetables, enjoy those artichokes!

Blessings Be!
Magikal Martha

Here is a recipe that I actually did try out on guests and found that I could actually tolerate and artichoke heart!

Hot Greens

3 Slices of bacon
1 clove garlic
3 scallions
1 package [9 oz] frozen artichoke hearts
1 lb fresh spinach
1/8 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Seasoning to taste

  1. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan.

  2. Chop the bacon and sauté it in a large skillet until it is crisp, about 15 minutes.

  3. Peel and mince the garlic. Trim and chop the scallions. Drain the bacon on a paper towel, reserving the drippings.

  4. Cook the artichokes in the boiling water until they are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Rinse, dry and shop the spinach. Add the spinach to the artichokes for the last 2 minutes of cooking.

  5. Sauté the garlic and the scallions in the bacon drippings for 3 minutes. Stir in the Tabasco sauce. Season to taste.

  6. Drain the vegetables will and add them to the skillet. Return the bacon to the skillet and toss.


Magikal Abilities

TYPE: vegetable
MAGICKAL FORM: heart, leaves

As a member of the thistle family, artichokes carry armor and are eaten to ward off danger. Use them in rituals to get to the heart of a matter. Slowly work your way through the delicacy, peeling the leaves until you are at its core. Visualize the problem you are trying to sort out as you strip the leaves away. When you arrive at the heart, imagine your problem being solved at its very foundation. Roman artichokes stimulate the energy glands and increase sexual and physical stamina.

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Tammye McDuff is Editor-in-Chief for Bellflower Bulletin; Senior Journalist & Copywriter for Homes & Living eZine, and iSocial Media developer. Among past credentials include the Festival of Films; L.A. Examiner; Perils of Cyber Dating; and The Boston Globe Contributing articles to Pagan Pages; Spirit One Magazine and Sage Woman while serving as Senior Journalist for Downey Connect Magazine. Summer 2013, you can find her on HubPages; as a guest blogger and creating content for Your Wellness Guide eZine and Demand Media Studios


  • Amarfa
    Amarfa Thursday, 04 July 2013

    I love having artichoke hearts on pizza with chicken, basil, and roasted red peppers. omg yum!

  • SophiaDawn
    SophiaDawn Thursday, 04 July 2013

    I never did learn to like them.

  • Ashling Kelly
    Ashling Kelly Friday, 05 July 2013

    They always seem far more effort than they're worth, but the idea of the frozen hearts is great--thanks!

  • Tammye McDuff
    Tammye McDuff Monday, 08 July 2013

    I have tried them several ways - I have graduated to artichoke heart dip - I am working on this vegetable!!

  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills Saturday, 13 July 2013

    I had no idea that they were so beneficial, or related to milk thistle! I also love that they help cholesterol levels, since they contain a "heart" within.

  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Tuesday, 23 July 2013

    I can't wait to eat my next artichoke and use that lovely meditation!

  • Tammye McDuff
    Tammye McDuff Sunday, 28 July 2013

    LOVE Front Porch Spirit LizAnn!

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