Artichoke leaf derives from the common globe artichoke, a widely consumed vegetable cultivated by both the early Greeks and Romans. The leaves of artichoke contain a primary compound known as cynarin, which improves liver and gall bladder function, and lowers serum cholesterol. The leaves are also used to flavor beverages or make tea.
Artichoke extract is sometimes used to treat a variety of health conditions. For example, some consumers use the extract to treat hangovers, high blood pressure, anemia, arthritis, kidney problems, liver problems, snake bites, water retention, and other concerns. There is not enough evidence to support the use of artichoke leaf extract for these health benefits.
Unfortunately, the studies are mixed regarding the use of artichokes in lowering cholesterol. Most only involve examining the effects of artichoke leaf extract, which is also widely available as a supplement.
The manner by which artichokes lower cholesterol is not fully known. It is thought that artichokes may indirectly interact with the same protein that statins interact with to lower cholesterol. Called HMG-CoA reductase, this enzyme plays an important role in the making of cholesterol.
Artichokes also contain antioxidants, such as flavonoids. These chemicals are also in a variety of other, colorful vegetables and fruits and are thought to play a role in lowering the oxidation of LDL, which contributes to atherosclerosis.
Possible Side Effects
Artichokes are likely safe when consumed as food and possibly safe when taken by mouth as medicine. It has been used safely in research for up to 23 months.
During research studies, the only significant side effects noted were hunger, flatulence, and weakness. Other possible side effects include upset stomach and diarrhea.
Artichoke and artichoke supplements might also cause allergic reactions in people who are allergic to plants such as marigolds, daisies, and other similar herbs.2
Dosage and Preparation
There is not enough scientific data to provide a recommended dose of artichoke leaf extract. Amounts used in research varies. Suggested doses range from 320 to 1,800 milligrams per day.
The appropriate dose for you may depend on factors including your age, gender, and medical history. Speak to your healthcare provider to get personalized advice.