Artichoke plant is a type of thistle, related to Silybum marianum (Milk Thistle) and is thought to be native to Northern Africa but has been naturalized over most of Europe and parts of North America. It is well known as a culinary delicacy, popularized by French and Italian aristocracy. There is a Greek myth that the first artichoke was a woman of surpassing beauty named Cynara, who lived on the island of Zinari. Zeus, who was there visiting Poseidon, fell in love with her and decided to make her a goddess. Cynara missed her home and mother so much that she would sneak back to earth from Mount Olympus to visit. This infuriated Zeus, who returned her back to earth transforming her into the first artichoke.
The properties of Artichoke have been recognized since antiquity. It was particularly popular in the 16th-19th centuries. The eclectic physicians of North America used Artichoke to support healthy urine flow and production and to support normal function of the digestive system and liver*. In European herbal medicine it has been used to support the same functions, but also to support healthy skin, encourage a normal appetite, and to support healthy bile flow and cholesterol metabolism*.