Artichoke leaf may reduce symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.




Phytother Res

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Artichoke Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Professional Data: Artichoke Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)


Also known as "IBS," irritable bowel syndrome is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders seen in physicians' offices. IBS is not a life-threatening condition. There is no overt disease or structural defect; in fact, the intestinal tract appears normal for the most part in people with IBS, making the diagnosis harder to pin down. Typical symptoms include distension of the abdomen, pain relieved by bowel movements, constipation alternating with diarrhea, mucous in the stools, and a feeling of incomplete bowel movements. These problems may be constant or they may come and go. People are generally not diagnosed as having IBS before these complaints have persisted for at least three months. IBS can mimic more serious diseases such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, colon cancer, endometriosis, and psychiatric disorders. An estimated 500,000 to 2 million Americans have irritable bowel syndrome.1

Researchers from the Human Nutrition Unit of the School of Food BioSciences started examining the role of artichoke leaf in relieving the symptoms of IBS. Artichoke is usually indicated for dyspepsia, or indigestion. A sub-group of patients that had symptoms of IBS was recruited from a study that involved dyspeptic syndrome and had been put on a 6-week regimen of artichoke leaf extract. After being analyzed, data indicated significant reductions in the severity of the symptoms, and provided favorable evaluations from the patients and physicians. In addition, 96% of patients rated the artichoke extract better than or equal to previous treatments that they had tried. The results showed that artichoke has possible value in relieving irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Further studies were suggested.2

Though this was a small, preliminary study, people have used artichoke for many years. Historically artichoke has been used for poor digestion, atherosclerosis, and high cholesterol. In addition, artichoke may have some benefit for those suffering from dyspeptic ulcers by stimulating the production of bile juices in the liver. Increased bile production aids in breaking down hard to digest fats, thereby increasing digestion and the absorption of nutrients.


1. Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, 1999.
2. Walker AF, et al. Artichoke leaf extract reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in a post-marketing surveillance study. Phytother Res. Feb 2001;15(1)58-61.