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Artichoke (Cynara scholymus)


Cultivated as a vegetable in Europe, artichoke possesses choleretic (simulates liver to increase bile production) and a mild diuretic action. It has been used to treat liver disease, heart disease, Arteriosclerosis, and diabetes.


The ancient Greeks and Romans used artichoke as a digestive aid (1).


Parts of the plants used: LEAF, STEM, ROOT.

Standardised leaf extract, 320 mg four to six times daily for a minimum of six weeks (2).

Crude leaf dosage, 1-4 g three times daily (3).


The serum-lipid lowering effects of artichoke have been confirmed in animal and clinical studies. Artichoke contains a substance called cynarine, which has been shown to effectively reduce Hypercholesterolemia. Test tube results show that artichoke may inhibit cholesterol synthesis and increase its elimination (4).

Liver disease:
Artichoke has been shown to promote liver regeneration and to encourage blood flow to traumatised areas of the liver. Test tube results have shown that artichoke is effect against carbon tetrachloride induced toxicity (5).

Artichoke may also alleviate dyspeptic symptoms, which include Pain, nausea, retching, and the feeling of being full.


Artichoke is considered a non-toxic and safe product to use (6).

People with obstructions of the bile duct (e.g. from Gallstones) should not use artichoke therapeutically. People with allergies to artichoke or to any member of the Compositae family (e.g. daisy) should not use artichoke.

Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, and patients with severe kidney or liver disease has not been determined.


Artichoke may potentiate the hyperglycaemic and hyperuremic (excessive blood levels of uric acid) effects of glucose elevating agents.

Use may require adjustments in dosages of antidiabetic drugs.

Avoid topical use in conjunction with the Acne medication tretinoin (retinoic acid, Vitamin A acid).

Artichoke may potentiate the antibiotic activity of Echinacea. To counter the effect, add milk or cream to herbal tea.


1. Brand N. Cynara scolymus L. - The artichoke. Zeitschrift Phytother 1990;11:169-75.
2. Fintelmann V. Antidyspeptic and lipid-lowering effect of artichoke leaf extract. Zeitschirfit fur Allgemeinmed 1996;72:1-19.
3. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 36.
4. Gebhardt R. New experimental results in the action of artichoke leaf extract. Zeitschrift fur Allgemeinmed 1996;72:20-23.
5. Adzet T, Camarasa J, Laguna JC. Hepatoprotective effect of Polyphenolic compounds from Cynara scolymus against CCL4 toxicity in isolated rat hepatocytes. Journal of Natural Products 1987;50:612-17.
6. Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.


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