Artichoke Introduction

Artichoke is native to Mediterranean areas and the Canary Islands. It is also widely cultivated in many areas of the world as a food crop; often where specific climates exists to support adequate Artichoke growth. Artichoke is a member of the thistle family and usually grows to a height of 3-5 feet. Upon maturity, it is topped with large fleshy bluish flowers. Artichokes tend to flower during late spring to early summer, depending on the warmth of the climate in which they are grown. [1]

Artichoke Uses

Parts Used:

Cynara scolymus flora (flowering tops).

Artichoke Uses:

Gastrointestinal System

Artichoke extracts have been shown to be effective in the treatment of functional dyspepsia. In study, dyspepsia symptoms were significantly improved, as well as measurements in quality of life in patients that were treated with an Artichoke extract. Artichoke extract has also been successfully used in the treatment of Irritable Bowel syndrome. Self reported symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome, such as alternating diarrhea and constipation, were reported to shift more towards “normal” bowel movements in patients treated with Artichoke extracts. [2-4]

Hepatic Effects

Artichoke has been traditionally used as a hepatoprotective and choleretic ( increase bile flow) agent. It has also been used to restore the function of a liver that is damaged. Artichoke also shows promise an a remedy for cholestasis, with its ability to stimulate the flow of bile within the liver. Due to its choleretic activity Artichoke is also used to treat diseases of the gall bladder that can result in nausea, pain, and other adverse symptoms. Artichoke has demonstrated its ability to prevent cholestasis in laboratory animals that have had their gall bladders chemically damaged. It is recommended that Artichoke be used in conjunction with another herb, Milk thistle, for best effect when treating liver complaints. [5-7]

Cholesterol Lowering

Artichoke has been used to treat hypercholesterolemia in several studies. In fact, cholesterol levels have been lowered by as much as 18 % in one study. It appears that Artichoke has a similar effect to some of the pharmaceutical cholesterol lowering drugs. Artichoke extracts eliminate the possible formation of Cholesterol by inhibiting the enzyme responsible for its formation. The general consensus regarding Artichoke’s efficacy for cholesterol lowering, is that the herb does appear to have some cholesterol lowering capabilities, however, further study is warranted. [8-10]

Anti oxidant effects

Artichokes contain phenolic compounds that are thought to have protective effects on cells that are exposed to oxidative stress. There are a number of disease processes in the body that include oxidative stressors as causative or contributing factors to onset. Interestingly, Artichoke has shown a specific ability to protect monocytes and endothelial cells from the damage induced by oxidative stress. [11-12]

Artichoke Dosages

Typical Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) delivery forms and accompanying dosages:

  • Tincture: 60 Drops twice daily.
  • Capsules: 500 milligrams, twice daily. [13]

Artichoke Toxicities

While Artichoke has a low potential for toxic effects and overdose, it should be noted that in sensitive individuals there may be the potential for a possibly severe allergic reactions to occur.


[1] Lust, The Herb Book (New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1987), 102.

[2] Marakis G, Walker AF, Middleton RW, Booth JC, Wright J, Pike DJ. Artichoke leaf extract reduces mild dyspepsia in an open study. Phytomedicine. 2002 Dec;9(8):694-9.

[3] Holtmann G, Adam B, Haag S, Collet W, Grunewald E, Windeck T. Efficacy of artichoke leaf extract in the treatment of patients with functional dyspepsia: a six-week placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicentre trial. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2003 Dec;18(11-12):1099-105.

[4] Bundy R, Walker AF, Middleton RW, Marakis G, Booth JC. Artichoke leaf extract reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and improves quality of life in otherwise healthy volunteers suffering from concomitant dyspepsia: a subset analysis. J Altern Complement Med. 2004 Aug;10(4):667-9.

[5] Speroni E, Cervellati R, Govoni P, Guizzardi S, Renzulli C, Guerra MC. Efficacy of different Cynara scolymus preparations on liver complaints. J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Jun;86(2-3):203-11.

[6] Gebhardt R. Anticholestatic activity of flavonoids from artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) and of their metabolites. Med Sci Monit. 2001 May;7 Suppl 1:316-20.

[7] Mitchell, William, Plant Medicine in Practice (St. Louis MS: Churchill-Livingstone, 2003), 291.

[8] Pittler MH, Thompson CO, Ernst E. Artichoke leaf extract for treating hypercholesterolaemia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(3):CD003335.

[9] Thompson Coon JS, Ernst E. Herbs for serum cholesterol reduction: a systematic view.Fam Pract. 2003 Jun;52(6):468-78.

[10] Gebhardt R. Inhibition of cholesterol biosynthesis in primary cultured rat hepatocytes by artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) extracts. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1998 Sep;286(3):1122-8.

[11] Llorach R, Espin JC, Tomas-Barberan FA, Ferreres F. Artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) byproducts as a potential source of health-promoting antioxidant phenolics. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Jun 5;50(12):3458-64.

[12] Zapolska-Downar D, Zapolski-Downar A, Naruszewicz M, Siennicka A, Krasnodebska B, Koldziej B.Protective properties of artichoke (Cynara scolymus) against oxidative stress induced in cultured endothelial cells and monocytes. Life Sci. 2002 Nov 1;71(24):2897-08.

[13] Mitchell, William, Plant Medicine in Practice (St. Louis MS: Churchill-Livingstone, 2003), 291.


Artichoke Products