- Side Effects
- Drug Interactions
- Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
- What Else to Know
Generic Name: artichoke
Other Names: Cynara scolymus, cynarin
Drug Class: Herbals
What is artichoke, and what is it used for?
Artichoke is a plant, Cynara scolymus, native to the Mediterranean region. Artichoke is commonly consumed as a vegetable and artichoke extract made from the leaf, stem and root is used for medicinal purposes to treat indigestion, lower cholesterol and to protect the liver. Artichoke leaf extract is available over the counter (OTC) as an herbal supplement in the U.S.
The beneficial effects of artichoke may be from the compounds it contains, including cynarin, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid and flavonoids. These compounds have antioxidant properties and neutralize free radicals (reactive oxygen species) that can damage tissue. In addition, artichoke extract may improve secretion and flow of bile fluid, improving digestion, reduce synthesis of cholesterol and protect the liver from fat accumulation.
Studies have shown evidence of a significant reduction in blood levels of liver enzymes alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST), total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and blood sugar in people who received artichoke leaf extract for two months. Artichoke leaf extract possibly reduces blood fats and may improve liver function and digestion, however, there is inadequate scientific evidence for most of its other purported benefits.
Suggested uses of artichoke include:
- Do not take artichoke extract if you are hypersensitive to the aster family of plants including daisies, chrysanthemums, marigolds and ragweed.
- Do not take artichoke extract if you have bile duct blockage.
- Exercise caution if you have gallstones, artichoke may worsen the condition.
- Artichoke may cause allergic reactions. Discontinue immediately if you develop symptoms of allergy.
What are the side effects of artichoke?
Common side effects of artichoke include:
- Gas (flatulence)
- Upset stomach
- Allergic reactions, especially in people who are hypersensitive to the aster family of plants
Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms or serious side effects while using this drug:
- Serious heart symptoms include fast or pounding heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, shortness of breath, and sudden dizziness;
- Severe headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady;
- Severe nervous system reaction with very stiff muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, and feeling like you might pass out; or
- Serious eye symptoms include blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, or seeing halos around lights.
This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What are the dosages of artichoke?
There are no established dosages of artichoke leaf extract.
- 500 mg/day dry extract, no more than 6 g/day
- 320-640 mg artichoke leaf extract orally thrice daily.
- 1800-1920 mg orally every day divided twice or thrice daily.
- Artichoke taken as food is unlikely to result in overdose. There is no information on overdose of artichoke leaf extract, it may cause gastrointestinal symptoms which should resolve with discontinuation.
What drugs interact with artichoke?
Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.
- Artichoke has no known severe, serious, moderate, or mild interactions with other drugs.
The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.
It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider about all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions about the medication.
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Pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Artichoke in quantities typically consumed in food is likely safe during pregnancy.
- There are no controlled studies on the safety of artichoke leaf extract use in pregnant or breastfeeding women, avoid use.
- Never take any herbal supplement without first checking with your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
What else should I know about artichoke?
- Artichoke consumed as food is likely safe for most people. Artichoke leaf extracts are possibly safe for most adults when taken orally in recommended doses for up to 12 weeks.
- Check with your healthcare provider before taking any herbal supplement, including artichoke leaf extract.
- Use artichoke leaf extract exactly as per label instructions.
- Herbal products often contain many ingredients. Check labels for the components in the artichoke product you choose.
- Artichoke leaf extract is marketed as an herbal supplement and is not regulated by the FDA. Products may differ in formulations and strengths, and labels may not always match contents; exercise caution in choosing your product.
- Store safely out of reach of children.
- Report to Poison control in case of overdose.
Artichoke is available over the counter (OTC) as an herbal supplement and is used for medicinal purposes to treat indigestion, lower cholesterol, and to protect the liver. Other uses include appetite loss, and gallbladder problems, high blood fat levels (hyperlipidemia), high blood pressure, hepatitis C, and irritable bowel syndrome. Common side effects of artichoke include gas (flatulence), upset stomach, diarrhea, and allergic reactions. Consult with your doctor before taking artichoke supplements if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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