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Artichoke

Plant Part Used

Leaf

Active Constituents

Caffeic acid, caffeoylquinic acids (chlorogenic acid, cynarin), flavone glycosides (including luteolin), phytosterols.(1)

 

This section is a list of chemical entities identified in this dietary supplement to possess pharmacological activity. This list does not imply that other, yet unidentified, constituents do not influence the pharmacological activity of this dietary supplement nor does it imply that any one constituent possesses greater influence on the overall pharmacological effect of this dietary supplement.[/span]

Introduction

The flower head of the globe Artichoke has been used as a food and medicinal agent for centuries. In medicine, the globe Artichoke has historically been used for poor digestion, along with "sluggish" liver, atherosclerosis, elevated cholesterol levels, and as a mild diuretic. It has reportedly been used in Europe since Roman times as a choleretic and diuretic. Artichoke leaf is claimed to be a potent antioxidant.(2)

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

250-750mg daily (standardized extract).

Most Common Dosage

250mg (standardized extract), 2 times a day.

Standardization

[span class=doc]Standardization represents the complete body of information and controls that serve to enhance the batch to batch consistency of a botanical product, including but not limited to the presence of a marker compound at a defined level or within a defined range.[/span]

The most current available medical and scientific literature indicates that this dietary supplement should be standardized to 5% cynarin and/or 15% caffeylquinic (chlorogenic) acid and/or 5-7% caffeoylquinic acids.

Uses

Frequently Reported Uses

  • Choleretic
  • Hepatoprotective
  • Improve Digestion

Other Reported Uses

  • Antioxidant
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Kidney Disease
  • Proteinuria
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Toxicities & Precautions

General

Artichoke is reported safe in recommended dosages.

Allergy

Some individuals may experience an allergic reaction.(3) Use with caution if the individual is allergic to the daisy or chrysanthemum family (Compositae).(4)

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

If pregnant or nursing, consult a physician before use.

Age Limitations

Do not use in children under 2 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

Pharmacology

Much of the pharmacological activity of the leaves has been attributed to the presence of cynarin, but chlorogenic acid has also been reported to be active in the body, particularly as an antioxidant.(2) The relative proportion of these compounds varies with the strain, age, and generation of the plant. Cynarin is found in the highest concentrations in the leaves.(5)

Another constituent in Artichoke is caffeic acid. The metabolism and excretion of this constituent has been further studied. After the absorption and metabolism of the caffeic acid esters are found in the Artichoke, they are excreted as methylated phenolic acids including ferulic, isoferulic, dihydroferulic, and vanillic acid.(6)

Hepatoprotection activity

Artichoke has been reported to have significant liver protecting and regenerating effects.(7) In one study, the authors concluded that Artichoke had hepatoprotection after exposure of laboratory animals to the liver toxic substance tetracholoromethane.(8) Some of the hepatoprotective qualities of Artichoke seem to be linked to its antioxidant capacity, due mainly to the chlorogenic acid content in the leaves.(21) Another possibility for its liver protection function is the cynarin content, which is claimed to restore healthy growth and reproduction of liver cells.(9) The antioxidant effect has been further supported by laboratory studies in both human and animal cells.(2),(10)

Artichoke is also reported to have a stimulant activity on bile production in the liver; termed choleretic action.(9) Stimulating the flow of bile juices aids in breaking down hard to digest fats, thereby increasing digestion and the absorption of nutrients. Studies have reported that when patients with dyspeptic complaints take Artichoke as a supplement, symptoms rapidly disappear, reducing pain, nausea, retching and the sensation of fullness.(11),(12) The constituent cynarin has been stated to be most active in this capacity.

One clinical study found that Artichoke extract in 17 patients with chronic hepatitis C and persistently elevated aminotransferase levels did not significantly change aminotransferase levels or viral load compared to baseline levels, although fatigue and joint problems significantly improved after 4 weeks of treatment.(22)

Cholesterol lowering activity

Artichoke products have been reported to lower total blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels in humans and animals.(14),(15),(23) The net effect of Artichoke is claimed to be the result of both an inactivation of and an interference with cholesterol metabolism.

A 2008 Cochrane Database review of the use of Artichoke leaf for hypercholesterolemia in randomised controlled trials (RCTs) found there is an indication that ALE has potential in lowering cholesterol levels, the evidence is, however, as yet not convincing.(24) The limited data on safety suggest only mild, transient and infrequent adverse events with the short term use of ALE.

Cynarin reportedly decreases the rate of cholesterol synthesis in the liver, enhances biliary excretion of cholesterol, and increases conversion towards the bile acids.(16) One study examined the free radical scavenging properties of a luteolin-rich Artichoke extract and some of its pure flavonoid constituents by assessing their ability to prevent LDL oxidation in vitro.(17) The Artichoke extract retarded LDL oxidation in a dose-dependent manner, with the authors concluding that the antioxidant activity of the Artichoke extract relates in part to its constituent flavonoids. There have been a few reports that Artichoke has no lipid reducing effect in familial Type II hyperlipoproteinemia.(18) A recent, double blind, randomized, placebo controlled, multi-center clinical study in 143 adult patients reported that a dry Artichoke extract (25-35:1 w/v) lowered blood cholesterol levels. Changes of total cholesterol and LDL Cholesterol from baseline to the end of treatment showed a statistically significant superiority of Artichoke dry extract over placebo (18.5% vs 8.6% respectively). LDL/HDL ratios were also reduced.(19)

Other activity

Artichoke leaf extract (ALE) may have potential for treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as well. In a study evaluating the use of ALE in dyspeptic patients, a small subset was identified as having IBS. This subset had the severity of their symptoms reduced and provided an overall favorable evaluation of the extract. As many as 96% of the subset claimed that the Artichoke leaf extract was well tolerated and that it worked at least as well as other therapies used for their symptoms.(13)

References

  1. Dranik LI. Quantitative Analysis of Cynarin in the Leaves of the Artichoke. Farm Zh. 1965;20(5):56-59.
  2. View Abstract: Gebhardt R. Antioxidative and Protective Properties of Extracts from Leaves of the Artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) Against Hydroperoxide-induced Oxidative Stress in Cultured Rat Hepatocytes. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. Jun1997;144(2):279-86.
  3. Meding B. Allergic Contact Dermatitis from Artichoke, Cynara Scolymus. Contact Dermatitis. Jul1983;9(4):314.
  4. PDR for Herbal Medicines, 2nd ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company; 2000:45.
  5. Maros T, et al. Effects of Cynara Scolymus Extracts On The Regeneration of Rat Liver. Arzneim-Forsch Drug/Res. Feb1966;16(2):127-29.
  6. View Abstract: Rechner AR, Pannala AS, Rice-Evans CA. Caffeic acid derivatives in artichoke extract are metabolised to phenolic acids in vivo. Free Radic Res. Aug2001;35(2):195-202.
  7. View Abstract: Adzet T, et al. Hepatoprotective Activity of Polyphenolic Compounds From Cynara scolymus Against CCl4 Toxicity in Isolated Rat Hepatocytes. J Nat Prod. Jul1987;50(4):612-17.
  8. Maros T, et al. Effect of Cynara Scolymus-Extracts on the Regeneration of Rat Liver. 2. Arzneim-Forsch/Drug Res. Jul1968;18(7):884-86.
  9. Khadzhai I, et al. Effect of Artichoke Extracts on the Liver. Farmakol Toksikol. Nov1971;34(6):685-87.
  10. View Abstract: Perez-Garcia F, Adzet T, Canigueral S. Activity of artichoke leaf extract on reactive oxygen species in human leukocytes. Free Radic Res. Nov2000;33(5):661-5.
  11. Newall C A, et al. Herbal Medicine: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. Cambridge: Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:36-37.
  12. View Abstract: Marakis G, Walker AF, Middleton RW, Booth JC, Wright J, Pike DJ. Artichoke leaf extract reduces mild dyspepsia in an open study. Phytomedicine. Dec2002;9(8):694-9.
  13. View Abstract: Walker AF, Middleton RW, Petrowicz O. Artichoke leaf extract reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in a post-marketing surveillance study. Phytother Res. Feb2001;15(1):58-61.
  14. Kirchhoff R, et al. Increase in Choleresis by Means of Artichoke Extract. Phytomedicine. 1994;1:107-15.
  15. View Abstract: Wegener T, Fintelmann V. Pharmacological Properties and Therapeutic Profile of Artichoke. Wien Med Wochenschr. 1999;149(8-10):241-7.
  16. Wojcicki J, et al. The Influence of Cynarine on Serum Lipids in Patients Affected With Diabetes Mellitus. Pun Med. 1974;16:127-29.
  17. View Abstract: Brown JE, Rice-Evans CA. Luteolin-rich Artichoke Extract Protects Low Density Lipoprotein from Oxidation In Vitro. Free Radic Res. Sep1998;29(3):247-55.
  18. View Abstract: Heckers H, et al. Inefficiency of Cynarin as Therapeutic Regimen in Familial Type II Hyperlipoproteinaemia. Atherosclerosis. Feb1977;26(2):249-53.
  19. View Abstract: Englisch W, et al. Efficacy of Artichoke dry extract in patients with hyperlipoproteinemia. Arzneimittleforschung. Mar2000;50(3):260-5.
  20. Pipili C, Cholongitas E, Ioannidou D. Phytocontact dermatitis caused by Artichoke: an exceptionally rare case. Clin Exp Dermatol. Jun 2009;34(4):534-535. Epub 2009 Feb 19. No abstract available.
  21. Juzyszyn Z, Czerny B, Pawlik A, Drizdzik M. The effect of Artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) extract on ROS generation in HUVEC cells.Phytother Res. Sep 2008;22(9):1159-1161.
  22. Huber R, Müller M, Naumann J, Schenk T, Lüdtke R. Artichoke leave extract for chronic hepatitis C - a pilot study. Phytomedicine. Sep 2009;16(9):801-804. Epub 2009 May 8.
  23. Bundy R, Walker AF, Middleton RW, Wallis C, Simpson HC. Artichoke leaf extract (Cynara scolymus) reduces plasma cholesterol in otherwise healthy hypercholesterolemic adults: a randomized, double blind placebo controlled trial. Phytomedicine. Sep 2008;15(9):668-675.
  24. Pittler MH, Thompson-Coon J, Ernst E. Artichoke leaf extract for treating hypercholesterolaemia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 7 Oct 2009;(4):CD003335. Review.

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