What is Artichoke Leaf Extract?

Mandi Rogier

Artichoke leaf extract is a supplement made from the cynara scolymus, or globe artichoke plant. It is used to treat a variety of medical conditions and can be taken as a daily dietary supplement. Though the exact effects of this herbal supplement are not fully known, many studies have indicated promising results, especially in relation to cholesterol control.

A doctor should be consulted before taking any new supplements.
A doctor should be consulted before taking any new supplements.

The leaves of the artichoke plant are high in antioxidants. These beneficial antioxidants are present in a concentrated form in the extract. Other components found in this supplement include chlorogenic acid and cynarin. The extract is typically sold in capsule form.

Artichoke leaf extract may help treat various digestive issues.
Artichoke leaf extract may help treat various digestive issues.

Capsules of artichoke leaf extract generally contain 500 milligrams. These are taken one at a time, anywhere from one to three times per day. The capsules should be taken with meals. As with any supplement, it is recommended that individuals consult their doctors before beginning a daily regimen.

Some people may be allergic to this extract. Individuals who have a known allergy to dyes or preservatives may have an adverse reaction to the supplement. Those who are allergic to artichokes in their whole form should not take artichoke leaf extract.

Artichoke leaf extract is frequently used to aid in healthy digestion. It increases the flow of bile, which is essential to adequate digestion and healthy liver function. Bile also helps to remove cholesterol from the body. It is for this reason that the supplement has been connected to an improvement in cholesterol levels.

Studies conducted by the University of Reading indicated a strong connection between artichoke leaf extract and lowered plasma cholesterol. Those who partook in the study had only moderately raised levels, but showed significant improvement at the end of twelve weeks. The participants took four 320-milligram capsules of the extract each day over the course of the study. Plasma cholesterol decreased by 4.2 percent on average. Levels of LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol, however, were not significantly affected.

This supplement may also aid in other digestive issues such as heartburn, irritable bowel system, and gastritis. A possible side effect of the product, however, is gas. Individuals will have to evaluate their own personal responses to the supplement when determining its usefulness. Those with liver disease, gallbladder disease, or gallstones should not take artichoke leaf extract. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult a doctor prior to use.

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