Most people don’t know what the heck to do with an artichoke. Yet, artichokes have been used as a food and traditional remedy in the Mediterranean region since the 4th century B.C. Recent scientific studies are showing that this odd-looking thistle contains potent phytonutrients and antioxidants that support healthy digestion and liver function, reduce irritable bowl syndrome, and even reduce cholesterol. Artichoke Leaf Extract concentrates these phytonutrients for use in dietary supplements.
Researchers at Istanbul University, Turkey recently tested the effect of artichoke leaf extract on rats that were fed a high cholesterol diet for one month. The diet caused significant increases in serum and liver cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the laboratory animals. For the last two weeks of the study, however, the rats were given artichoke leaf extract, which decreased serum lipids and triglyceride levels and the ratio of cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Liver cholesterol and triglyceride levels remained unchanged.1
Increases antioxidant capacity
A research group in Poland measured the antioxidant capability of artichoke leaf extract in 22 members of the Polish rowing team. Twelve rowers were assigned to take one capsule containing 400 mg of artichoke-leaf extract three times a day for five weeks, and the other 10 rowers took a placebo. At the beginning and end of the five weeks, participants had their blood drawn before and after rowing on a machine, and then again 24 hours later. Total antioxidant capacity and serum lipid profiles were analyzed. In the 24-hour rest period after the rowing test, the rowers who took the artichoke extract had a significantly higher antioxidant capacity in their blood. At the end of the five-week study, they also had a significantly lower cholesterol level than the placebo group.2
A study at the Department of Gastroenterology, University of Essen, Germany examined the effect of artichoke leaf extract on patients with dyspepsia (the medical term for indigestion). Two hundred and forty-four patients were enrolled in a double-blind randomized trial in which 129 were given the extract and 115 were given a placebo. After six weeks the patients treated with artichoke leaf extract felt significant relief from their symptoms and enjoyed improved quality of life.3
Reduces symptoms of irritable bowl syndrome
Two hundred and eight patients with dyspepsia and irritable bowl disorder (IBS) were evaluated before and after taking artichoke leaf extract for two months. According to the patients’ own reports, there was a significant 26.4% reduction in IBS symptoms, shifting away from “alternating constipation/diarrhea” toward “normal” bowel patterns, plus a improvement in quality of life.4
How it works
Artichoke leaf extract simulates the production of bile, a thick, yellowish green fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gall bladder. It is then released into the small intestine where it aids in the digestion and absorption of fats and cholesterol, and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
Bile serves as a carrier for the toxins that are excreted by the liver, which are then sent to the intestine for their exit from the body. Cholesterol is also excreted in this way. Artichoke leaf extract enhances the excretion of excess cholesterol (in the form of bile) from the body, which helps to lower blood cholesterol levels.
For more information about digestion and artichoke leaf extract visit: Stop Digestive Discomfort!
- Küçükgergin C, Aydin AF, Ozdemirler-Erata G, Mehmetçik G, Koçak-Toker N, Uysal M. Effect of Artichoke Leaf Extract on Hepatic and Cardiac Oxidative Stress in Rats Fed on High Cholesterol Diet. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2009 Aug 4. [Epub ahead of print]
- Skarpanska-Stejnborn A, Pilaczynska-Szczesniak L, Basta P, Deskur-Smielcka E, Horoszkiewicz-Hassan M. The influence of supplementation with artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) extract on selected redox parameters in rowers. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab.2008 Jun;18(3):313-27.
- Holtmann G, Adam B, Haag S, Collet W, Grünewald E, Windeck T. Efficacy of artichoke leaf extract in the treatment of patients with functional dyspepsia: a six-week placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicentre trial. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2003 Dec;18(11-12):1099-105.
- Bundy R, Walker AF, Middleton RW, Marakis G, Booth JC. 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 Aug;10(4):667-9.