Artichoke

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What other names is Artichoke known by?

Alcachofa, Alcaucil, ALE, Artichaut, Artichaut Commun, Artichoke Extract, Artichoke Fruit, Artichoke Leaf, Artichoke Leaf Extract, Artischocke, Cardo, Cardo de Comer, Cardon d'Espagne, Cardoon, Cynara, Cynara cardunculus, Cynara scolymus, Garden Artichoke, Gemuseartischocke, Globe Artichoke, Kardone, Tyosen-Azami.

What is Artichoke?

Artichoke is a plant. The leaf, stem, and root are used to make "extracts" which contain a high concentration of certain chemicals found in the plant. These extracts are used as medicine.

Artichoke is used to stimulate the flow of bile from the liver, and this is thought to help reduce the symptoms of heartburn and alcohol "hangover." Artichoke is also used for high cholesterol, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), kidney problems, anemia, fluid retention (edema), arthritis, bladder infections, and liver problems.

Some people use artichoke for treating snakebites, preventing gallstones, lowering blood pressure, lowering blood sugar; to increase urine flow; and as a tonic or stimulant.

In foods, artichoke leaves and extracts are used to flavor beverages. Cynarin and chlorogenic acid, which are chemicals found in artichoke, are sometimes used as sweeteners.

Don't confuse artichoke with Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus).

Possibly Effective for...

  • Indigestion. Artichoke leaf extract seems to reduce symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, flatulence, and stomach pain in people with indigestion. Improvement seems to occur after 2 to 8 weeks of treatment.
  • High cholesterol. Taking a specific artichoke extract (Valverde Artischocke, Novartis Consumer Health) seems to modestly reduce total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol, and the LDL/high density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") ratio after 6 to 12 weeks of treatment. Studies using cynarin, a specific chemical found in artichoke, have shown conflicting results. Drinking frozen artichoke juice does not seem to lower cholesterol levels and may increase levels of blood fats called triglycerides.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Alcohol-induced hangover. Some evidence shows that taking an artichoke extract does not prevent a hangover after drinking alcohol.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Disorders affecting bile flow in the liver. Early research suggests that a specific artichoke leaf product (Cynarix) improves the flow of bile from the liver and gallbladder.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Early research suggests that artichoke extract might reduce symptoms of IBS. In one study, a specific artichoke leaf extract (Hepar-SL forte, Serturner Arzneimittel GmbH) reduced abdominal pain and cramping, bloating, gas, and constipation associated with IBS after 6 weeks of treatment. In another study, a different specific artichoke leaf extract (Cynara SL, Lichtwer Pharma) reduced the occurrence of IBS symptoms in patients with heartburn by about 26%. People taking this extract also reported improvement in their quality of life after 2 months of treatment.
  • Water retention.
  • Snakebites.
  • Kidney problems.
  • Anemia.
  • Arthritis.
  • Liver problems.
  • Preventing gallstones.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of artichoke for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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How does Artichoke work?

Artichoke has chemicals that can reduce nausea and vomiting, spasms, and intestinal gas. These chemicals have also been shown to lower cholesterol.

Are there safety concerns?

Artichoke is LIKELY SAFE when consumed in amounts used in foods.

Artichoke is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth as a medicine. It has been used safely in research for up to 23 months.

In some people, artichoke can cause some side effects such as intestinal gas and allergic reactions. People at the greatest risk of allergic reactions are those who are allergic to plants such as marigolds, daisies, and other similar herbs.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking artichoke if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Bile duct obstruction: There is concern that artichoke might worsen bile duct obstruction by increasing bile flow. If you have this condition, don't use artichoke without first discussing your decision with your healthcare provider.

Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Artichoke may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking artichoke.

Gallstones: Artichoke might make gallstones worse by increasing bile flow; use artichoke with caution.

Dosing considerations for Artichoke.

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:
  • For heartburn: 320-640 mg artichoke leaf extract three times daily. Some studies have used a specific extract called ALE LI 220 (HeparSL forte, Berlin, Germany).
  • For high cholesterol: 1800-1920 mg per day of a specific artichoke extract (Valverde Artischocke, Novartis Consumer Health) in 2 to 3 divided doses. Products containing 60-1500 mg per day of the active ingredient, cynarin, have also been used.
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Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

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