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Artichoke

Parts Used & Where Grown

This large thistle-like plant is native to the regions of southern Europe, North Africa, and the Canary Islands. The leaves of the plant are used medicinally. However, the roots and the immature flower heads may also contain beneficial compounds.1

How It Works

Artichoke leaves contain a wide number of active constituents, including cynarin, 1,3 dicaffeoylquinic acid, 3-caffeoylquinic acid, and scolymoside.2 The choleretic (bile stimulating) action of the plant has been well documented in a controlled trial involving a small sample of healthy volunteers.3 After the administration of 1.92 grams of standardized artichoke extract directly into the duodenum, liver bile flow increased significantly. This choleretic effect has led to the popular use of artichoke extract in Europe for the treatment of mild indigestion—particularly following a meal high in fat. In an uncontrolled clinical trial with 553 people suffering from non-specific digestive disorders (including indigestion), 320–640 mg of a standardized artichoke extract taken three times per day was found to reduce nausea, abdominal pain, constipation, and flatulence in over 70% of the study participants.4

The standardized extract has also been used to treat high cholesterol and triglycerides. In one preliminary trial4 and one controlled trial,6 use of a standardized artichoke extract was found to lower cholesterol and triglycerides significantly when taken in amounts ranging from 900 to 1,920 mg per day. One preliminary trial failed to find any effect.7

While scientists are not certain how artichoke leaves lower cholesterol, test tube studies have suggested that the action may be due to an inhibition of cholesterol synthesis and/or the increased elimination of cholesterol because of the plant’s choleretic action.8 In test tube studies, the flavonoids from the artichoke (e.g., luteolin) have been shown to prevent LDL-cholesterol oxidation—an effect that may reduce risk of atherosclerosis.9

References

1. Brand N. Cynara scolymus L.—The artichoke. Zeitschrift Phytother 1990;11:169-75.

2. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 42-3.

3. Kirchhoff R, Beckers C, Kirchhoff GM, et al. Increase in choleresis by means of artichoke extract. Phytomedicine 1994;1:107-15.

4. Fintelmann V. Antidyspeptic and lipid-lowering effect of artichoke leaf extract. Zeitschrift fur Allgemeinmed 1996;72(Suppl 2):3-19.

5. Englisch W, Beckers C, Unkauf M, et al. Efficacy of artichoke dry extract in patients with hyperlipoproteinemia. Arzneimittelforschung 2000;50:260-5.

6. Heckers H, Dittmar K, Schmahl FW, Huth K. Inefficiency of cynarin as therapeutic regimen in familial type II hyperlipoproteinemia. Atherosclerosis 1977;26:249-53.

7. Gebhardt R. New experimental results in the action of artichoke leaf extract. Zeitschrift fur Allgemeinmed 1996;72:20-3.

8. Brown JE, Rice-Evans CA. Luteolin rich artichoke extract protects low density lipoprotein from oxidation in vitro. Free Radical Research 1998;29:247-55.

9. Schulz V, Hänsel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy: A Physician's Guide to Herbal Medicine. 3rd ed, Berlin: Springer, 1998, 168-73.

10. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 425-6.

11. Kraft K. Artichoke leaf extract--recent findings reflecting effects on lipid metabolism, liver and gastrointestinal tracts. Phytomedicine 1997;4:370-8 [review].

12. Kirchhoff R, Beckers C, Kirchhoff GM, et al. Increase in choleresis by means of artichoke extract. Phytomedicine 1994;1:107-15.

13. Bundy R, Walker AF, Middleton RW, et al. Artichoke leaf extract reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and improves quality of life in otherwise healthy volunteers suffering from concomitant dyspepsia: a subset analysis. J Altern Complement Med 2004;10:667-9.

14. Fintelmann V. Antidyspeptic and lipid-lowering effect of artichoke leaf extract. Zeitschirfit fur Allgemeinmed 1996;72:1-19.

15. Bundy R, Walker AF, Middleton RW, et al. Artichoke leaf extract (Cynara scolymus) reduces plasma cholesterol in otherwise healthy hypercholesterolemic adults: a randomized, double blind placebo controlled trial. Phytomedicine 2008;15:668-75.

16. Heckers H, Dittmar K, Schmahl FW, Huth K. Inefficiency of cynarin as therapeutic regimen in familial type II hyperlipoproteinemia. Atherosclerosis 1977;26:249-53.

17. Englisch W, Beckers C, Unkauf M, et al. Efficacy of artichoke dry extract in patients with hyperlipoproteinemia. Arzneimittelforschung 2000;50:260-5.

18. Rondanelli M, Giacosa A, Opizzi A, et al. Beneficial effects of artichoke leaf extract supplementation on increasing HDL-cholesterol in subjects with primary mild hypercholesterolaemia: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Int J Food Sci Nutr 2013;64:7-15.

19. Brand N. Cynara scolymus L.—The artichoke. Zeitschrift Phytother 1990;11:169-75.

20. Fintelmann V. Antidyspeptic and lipid-lowering effect of artichoke leaf extract. Zeitschrift fur Allgemeinmed 1996;72:1-19.

21. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 36.

22. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 84-5.

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The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.

Copyright © 2020 TraceGains, Inc. All rights reserved.

The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.