Globe Artichoke (Cynara Scolymus) Herbal Monograph

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Traditional Use of the Globe Artichoke 

Artichoke leaf has been used as a gallbladder and Kidney stimulant in traditional European medicine since Roman times (1). Traditional medicinal uses of artichoke have focused on liver function. Artichoke leaf is considered choleretic (bile increasing), hepatoprotective, cholesterol-reducing, and a diuretic (2). In Germany, it is used today as a gallbladder stimulant (3) and for its lipid-lowering, liver-stimulating actions (4).

The pharmacological and therapeutic effects of the artichoke on the Liver had already been well known in the 17th century. Modern studies started in the last century confirmed the stimulating properties of artichoke extracts on the liver and gallbladder. (16)

Globe Artichoke

Clinical Studies

Modern human studies have investigated its choleretic activity in the treatment of digestive disorders (5). An article by Kraft summarized various post-marketing surveillance studies conducted on patients with dyspepsia and/or diseases of the liver or bile duct. The studies included anywhere from 417 to 557 patients and treatment duration ranged from 4 to 6 weeks. Statistically significant reduction of symptoms (e.g., abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, and nausea) were reported for the surveillance studies referred to in this paper. Artichoke preparations were well tolerated (up to 95% of cases) with a low rate of side effects (6).

  • Indigestion – In one clinical trial, 20 men with acute or chronic metabolic disorders were separated at random into two groups. The test group was given a standardized artichoke extract of 320 mg in a capsule dissolved in 50 ml water, taken directly into the duodenum. Results were assessed by measuring duodenal bile secretions, which increased 127.3% after 30 minutes, 151.5% after 60 minutes, and 94.3% after 90 minutes. The relative differences for the placebo were significant. The researchers concluded that artichoke extract can be used for the treatment of digestive disorders characterized by poor assimilation of fat due to insufficient bile secretion. No adverse side effects were observed (6).
  • Lead toxicity – The results of one test clearly showed that the artichoke extract in lead-poisoned rats has suitable chelating properties for the reduction of blood lead levels. (14)
  • Liver protection – Artichoke’s multidirectional treatment is a documented fact and it is associated with the treatment of dyspepsia, the influence of active substances contained in artichoke on plasma lipid levels, and a strong antioxidant effect. Due to these properties, artichoke compounds have a protective effect on liver cells. (15)

Chemistry and Pharmacology

Artichoke leaf consists of the fresh or dried leaf of C. scolymus L. [Fam. Asteraceae] and its preparations in effective dosage. The preparation contains caffeoylquinic acid derivatives such as cynarin and bitter principles.

Pharmacopeial grade artichoke leaf consists of the dried radical leaves of Cynara scolymus L.  The dried leaf must contain not less than 25% water-soluble extractive (7).

Artichoke leaf contains up to 2% phenolic acids, mainly 3-caffeoylquinic acid (chlorogenic acid), plus 1,5-di-O-caffeoylquinic acid (cynarin), and caffeic acid; 04% bitter sesquiterpene lactones of which 4783% is cynaropicrin; 0.11.0% flavonoids including the glycosides luteolin-7-b-rutinoside (scolymoside), luteolin-7-b-D-glucoside and luteolin-4-b-D-glucoside; phytosterols (taraxasterol);  sugars;  inulin;  enzymes and a volatile oil consisting mainly of the sesquiterpenes b-selinene and caryophyllene (8).

The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia reported hepatic action. In vivo, artichoke leaf has demonstrated hepatoprotective and hepatostimulating properties (9). The Merck Index reported the therapeutic category of cynarin, an active principle of artichoke, as choleretic (10). Artichoke leaf has shown cholesterol-lowering and lipid-lowering activity in rats and humans (11). Human studies have validated carminative, spasmolytic, antiemetic, and choleretic actions (12).

Scientific Evidence

Fatty Liver Disease

Based on recent basic and clinical investigations, the extract of artichoke (Cynara scolymus) leaf has been revealed to be used for hepatoprotective and cholesterol-reducing purposes. The study sheds light on the potential role of Cynara scolymus in the management of Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis. The active constituents of this herb such as flavonoids and caffeoylquinic acid may be responsible for this effect. These compounds have been proven to have hepatoprotective activity and a hypolipidemic effect. (18)

Uses

Preparations of artichoke have been used for bloating, nausea, and impairment of digestion. It is specifically indicated for indigestion through its proven lipid-lowering actions suggest that it may also be useful against atherosclerosis (13).

In Herbal medicine it can be used to promote liver and gallbladder function, better digestion so would be very useful within a Herbal Detox program for these purposes.

Artichoke with multiple therapeutic properties and practically no side effects is recommended not only in disorders of the Liver but also in the prevention of atherosclerosis and hyperlipidemia or dyspeptic disorder. (17)

Contraindications

Known allergies to artichokes and related species (Asteraceae or Compositae). Obstruction of bile ducts. In the case of gallstones, use only after consulting a physician.

Side Effects and Drug Interactions

None known.

Dosage and Administration

  • Dried Leaf: 2 g, three times daily.
  • Dry Extract 12:1 : 0.5 g single daily dose.
  • Fluid Extract 1:1 : 2 ml, three times daily.

Products

Globe Artichoke can be found in our following herbal products:

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