Artichoke Extract

The artichoke is an ancient medicinal plant. In the form of artichoke extract, it can be used for the symptoms of a nervous stomach, promote bile flow and aid digestion. The extract is also very helpful for flatulence or detoxification. You can find out here what other effects artichoke extract has and how to take it.

Artichoke extract: effect of the leaves and flowers

Artichokes are not a vegetable, because they have a heart – says Amélie in the French film “The Fabulous World of Amélie”. Apparently, a heart for humans, because the artichoke (Cynara scolymus) has an enormous healing potential.

Amélie, of course, was referring to the flower buds of the artichoke, the inside of which (the “heart”) is eaten as a vegetable. The flower buds contain, for example, inulin, which feeds the beneficial bacteria in the intestine and can thus ensure a healthy intestinal flora.

Artichoke extract is made from both the flower buds and leaves of the artichoke and has been used as a traditional remedy for many hundreds of years. This is because the artichoke was already used by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans as a food and medicine. This can be inferred not least from the extensive illustrations on the walls of the pharaohs’ burial chambers.

Artichoke extract is a proven remedy

In ancient times, the leaves and flowers of artichokes were used to stimulate digestion for digestive problems. As is often the case, it was not until centuries later that modern science discovered in its studies that the artichoke is actually a choleretic, that is, a remedy that improves the flow of bile and thus also promotes digestion ( 1 ). One reason you find it in every good Liver tonic.

Responsible for the various healing effects of the artichoke is its high content of flavonoids and bitter substances such as cynarin. The content of cynarin and flavonoids is often higher in artichoke leaves than in flowers, which is why the leaves were preferred for the production of extracts. For medicinal use, the leaves are harvested before budding, as this is when they have the highest content of these medicinal agents.

Nowadays, however, artichokes are specifically bred for medical use in order to achieve the highest possible content of active ingredients. For this reason, extracts from the flowers are no longer a rarity: the flowers of some artichoke varieties can now also reach a high content of secondary plant substances, which is why they are also suitable for extract production ( 26 ).

The effects of artichoke extract

The medicinal properties and effects of artichoke extract are now known well ( 2 ).

Artichoke extract for the nervous stomach

Artichoke extract can help with digestive disorders in the upper abdomen (functional dyspepsia) such as nausea, bloating, belching, heartburn, bloating, and premature satiety. The extract also works well for vomiting due to antiemetic and antispasmodic properties. Of course, possible serious causes of these symptoms should be ruled out in advance ( 3 ).

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study from 2015 (University of Pavia/Italy), artichoke extract was administered together with ginger for 4 weeks to subjects suffering from functional dyspepsia: bloating after eating, flatulence, nausea and other stomach-typical symptoms that had been tormenting them for over 3 months.

65 participants took one capsule containing 100 mg of artichoke extract and 20 mg of ginger extract twice a day – one right before lunch and one right before dinner. The remaining 61 participants received a placebo preparation.

After just 2 weeks, all symptoms had improved significantly in the artichoke group, while the placebo group was now worse off than at the beginning of the study ( 4 ).

Artichoke extract for optimal digestion

Because artichoke extract improves bile flow and promotes pancreatic function, it can also optimize nutrient utilization in this way (5). After all, you can only absorb all nutrients and vital substances from food in the best possible way if sufficient digestive juices (bile, pancreas) are available and thus digestion can proceed well and without complaints.

In rats, artichoke extract significantly increased bile flow after just a single dose. The concentration of bile also increased. This, in turn, improves fat digestion, so that bloating and other discomfort after fatty foods are avoided by artichoke extract (6).

Artichoke extract instead of cholesterol-lowering

Artichoke extract may also be an alternative to statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) in some cases, which can have several unfavorable side effects, such as muscle problems and diabetes.

Artichoke extract has been shown to lower cholesterol without any side effects ( 7 ) ( 8 ) ( 9 ). For example, in an Italian study, after taking 1280 mg of artichoke extract daily for 6 weeks, there was a reduction in LDL cholesterol of about 18 percent, while HDL (“good cholesterol”) levels increased slightly (10).

A 2018 review came to the same conclusion: artichoke extract significantly lowers LDL cholesterol, while it has little effect on HDL cholesterol. Nine studies were reviewed with a total of 702 subjects who had taken between 500 and 2700 mg of artichoke extract per day (11).

Artichoke extract works in two ways here: First, artichoke extract stimulates increased cholesterol excretion. Secondly, it inhibits the formation of new cholesterol in the liver cells. In this way, the risk of deposits in the blood vessels can be reduced, so artichoke extract also has a preventive effect in relation to atherosclerosis and related cardiovascular diseases (12) (13) (14).

Artichoke extract for blood sugar levels

Artichoke extract could also prevent blood sugar spikes after meals and thus prevent cravings, according to findings from animal studies. This is a very good prerequisite for people who want to lose weight ( 15 ) ( 16 ).

Even in people with already elevated blood sugar levels, taking 600 mg of artichoke extract daily for 8 weeks led to an improvement: the fasting blood sugar of the test subjects dropped significantly by about 10 percent, while there was no significant difference in the control group ( 17 ).

Artichoke extract protects the liver

Artichoke extract has a hepatoprotective effect, which means that it protects liver cells and encourages them to regenerate. As a result, the liver can also detoxify better. Artichoke extract therefore has an indirect detoxifying effect and is also recommended for liver diseases ( 18 ).

For example, people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease consumed 600 mg of artichoke extract per day for 2 months. Compared to the control group, which had not ingested anything, the liver of the artichoke group was better supplied with blood and smaller afterwards, indicating lower fat deposits (19).

In addition, artichoke extract could protect the liver from damage caused by paracetamol. Paracetamol is an antipyretic and analgesic active ingredient that is often used in medicines. In the case of long-term use or overdose, paracetamol can lead to so-called liver poisoning.

In a 2018 animal study, taking artichoke extract was able to protect rats from the harmful side effects of acetaminophen on the liver: While the liver values of rats that had taken acetaminophen daily for 28 days had increased, taking artichoke extract and acetaminophen at the same time was able to prevent an increase in liver values in another group (27).

In addition, for liver diseases, a tea can be prepared from the typical liver medicinal plants, of which you drink 2 to 3 cups daily:

  • Artichoke leaves
  • Milk thistle seeds
  • Yarrow herb
  • Fennel seeds
  • Licorice root
  • Peppermint leaves

All ingredients are mixed in equal parts, mortared and poured with one cup (150 to 200 ml) of hot water per tsp. After 7 minutes of brewing, the tea is ready. Or if you prefer you can take a good liver tonic (Liver-Pure)

Artichoke extract detoxifies

However, artichoke extract also seems to detoxify directly. Animal studies have shown that the extract leads to increased poison excretion or lower toxic load:

From 2022, there is a study with rats that showed that artichoke extract can protect against nerve damage that can develop as a result of exposure to mold toxins. A 2017 study came to similar conclusions: namely, that artichoke extract can prevent damage from cadmium in rats (20) (21).

An Iranian study has also shown that artichoke extract can protect against insidious lead poisoning in rats to a certain extent. Lead or other liver-damaging toxins cause liver values (e.g. ALT, AST) and ALP (alkaline phosphatase) to rise. However, when the rats took artichoke extract as a preventative measure, these liver values dropped. The researchers involved wrote in their conclusion (22):

“These results clearly show that artichoke extract has chelating properties in lead poisoning, leading to a reduction in lead levels in the blood.”

Chelating properties are found in substances called chelating agents, to which artichoke extract belongs, according to these studies. Chelating agents form poorly soluble complexes with toxins in the body, which can then be excreted in the urine or stool.

Artichoke extract is an antioxidant

Artichoke extract has an antioxidant effect due to its high flavonoid content, i.e. it protects the body’s cells from free radicals, reduces oxidative stress and could thus reduce the risk of cancer and chronic diseases of all kinds. The antioxidant effect is evident from cell and animal studies ( 23 ) ( 24 ).

Artichoke extract for cancer

Among the flavonoids contained in artichoke extract is, for example, apigenin, a secondary plant substance that has already made a name for itself in studies. Apigenin is also found in celery, parsley and oregano and can reactivate the suicide program in cancer cells.

Lose weight with artichoke extract

So what does it mean when the artichoke stimulates the flow of bile, when it spurs the liver cells to regenerate, when it helps to eliminate toxins and cholesterol, and when it can moderate blood sugar levels and prevent cravings? All this indicates a powerful stimulation of the metabolism, which is also the reason why artichoke extract is recommended as a dietary supplement for weight loss.

So, if you want to make a change in diet, detox, colon cleanse or any other measure to detox and/or lose excess kilos, you could include artichoke extract in your program.

Artichoke extract: application and dosage

Artichoke extract should be taken for at least 6 weeks for the best possible effect, but can also be used permanently – especially when it comes to lowering cholesterol levels or regenerating a diseased liver. In the case of liver problems, from a naturopathic point of view, it is recommended not only to take artichoke extract but also to implement the points mentioned here (or some of them): The holistic liver cleansing

In the case of acute digestive problems (e.g. feeling of fullness after eating), the extract can also lead to improvements with a single or short-term intake. Of course, it would be optimal not to eat anything at all, which leads to bloating, or to eat slowly and chew thoroughly, which also often prevents bloating.

The daily dosage is usually 300 to 2,400 mg of artichoke extract, with doses between 300 and 600 mg recommended for digestive problems and doses up to 2,400 mg for liver disease.

The daily dose should be divided into at least 2 servings. It is best to take the artichoke extract 15 to 30 minutes before meals, such as before breakfast and before dinner with a glass of water.

How to Recognize High-Quality Artichoke Extract Capsules

If you choose capsules of 400 mg extract, the artichoke extract can be dosed easily and individually (1 to 3 capsules 2 times a day). Look for a standardised cynarin content, e.g. 2.5 percent, vegan capsules and that it also contains choline – a nutrient that also contributes to liver regeneration.

Some artichoke preparations contain even higher cynarin contents. In the past, cynarin was considered the main ingredient in artichoke – but today it is known that its effects can also be traced back to many other flavonoids and polyphenols. Cynarin is therefore an important ingredient in artichoke preparations, but not the only one. Artichoke preparations with a higher cynarin content do not necessarily have to be better than those with a 2.5 percent cynarin content.

Artichoke drops and artichoke juice

Artichoke extract is rarely available in liquid form – but artichoke leaves are a common ingredient in bitter substance drops. These can also support digestion, as you can read in our article on bitter substances.

Artichoke juice can also be squeezed from the buds of the artichoke flowers, which can be bought in health food stores, pharmacies and on the Internet. This can be taken for mild digestive problems. However, the juice is less concentrated than the extract. About 10 ml of the juice is taken 3 times a day before meals. You can drink the juice on its own or dilute it with water. Alternatively you can take a digestive bitter like Digest-Pure

Colon cleansing with artichoke extract

For example, if you want to incorporate artichoke extract into your colon cleanse, you could do something like this:

Example of colon cleansing with 2 shakes:

Does artichoke extract have side effects?

There are no known side effects when taking artichoke extract. However, the extract should not be taken in case of allergy to artichokes or other plants from the daisy family, or if gallstones are present.

Artichoke extract has traditionally been taken for all ailments related to impaired bile flow (including bile colic). Today, however, it is not recommended to use them in the case of (larger) gallstones – precisely because it is feared that the stones will loosen, which could lead to painful colic. In the case of small stones, you can try the Liver & Gallbladder flush.

Artichoke extract for histamine intolerance and sorbitol intolerance

Artichokes are considered tolerable for histamine intolerance (28). They are also considered sorbitol-free. Nevertheless, it cannot be guaranteed that every affected person will tolerate the extract. Firstly, intolerances are very different and individually pronounced, and secondly, extracts are always concentrated preparations and could therefore have a different effect than the vegetables themselves. So it is often better to start with Mixed Liver herbs that contain Artichoke as part of their formulation.

Artichoke Extract

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