Artichoke is a member of a family of plants in which milk thistle, daisies and sunflowers are. It can grow up to two meters, and on top there is a flower head with purple and green color. Young, unopened flower heads are cooked, and the meaty leaf base around the flowers and the core of the flower is served as a delicacy.
This plant (also called globe artichoke) is not to be confused with Jerusalem artichoke, a plant with edible root. But, globe artichoke probably developed from Jerusalem artichoke, which grows in the Mediterranean, and shares similar medical characteristics with it. Leaves of globe artichoke contain several substances that, when taken in the recommended amounts, have beneficial effects on health. These are cinarin (the main active ingredient) and various flavonoids, especially luteolin.
How does it work?
Although the extract of artichoke leaves has been popular in Germany for a long time, its beneficial effects have only recently been recognized in the United Kingdom. Studies in German laboratories show that the extract of artichoke leaves can be used to protect and regenerate the liver after some types of poisoning.
Scientific researches since 1933 shows that the artichoke stimulates the production of bile in the liver, which then goes to the duodenum. Because of this effect, with the help of artichokes, a success is achieved in treating people who have problems with digesting fat.
Researches that proves that extract of artichoke leaves may lower elevated cholesterol levels in the blood are dating back to the 30s in the last century. This is confirmed by recent studies, and in one study it has been demonstrated that this product lowers the value of “bad” LDL cholesterol while simultaneously raising the level of “good” HDL cholesterol. It appears that the effect on blood cholesterol levels is one of the ingredients of the extract called luteolin. It slows down cholesterol synthesis in the liver.
MAIN USEFUL EFFECTS: cinarine and artichoke flavonoids, including luteolin, are powerful antioxidants that prevent liver cell damage and protect the body against unstable oxygen molecules, better known as free radicals, helping to fight the disease. Several clinical studies have shown that artichoke extract mitigates digestive disorders such as abdominal pain, nausea, and winds.
The artichoke contains one polysaccharide, inulin, which reduces the rate of digestion of the food. Because of this ability, the artichoke helps in controlling the levels of blood sugar after a meal, which is particularly useful for diabetics. People with high levels of cholesterol in the blood can also benefit from the articulate extract because it can reduce cholesterol production in the liver.
ADDITIONAL USEFUL EFFECTS: artichoke leaves are traditionally used in the treatment of gout, arthritis and rheumatism because of their purifying and detoxifying effect. They can also help with urinary problems because they stimulate urination. Other possible beneficial effects are also being investigated, including the use in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. A recent study suggests significant mitigation of symptoms in this syndrome.
How to take it?
DOSAGE: to improve digestion, stimulate liver function and lower cholesterol levels: take two capsules of 320 mg per day. To improve digestion while consuming fat: take up to six capsules of 32 mg per day at any time of the day.
USE GUIDELINES: capsules are taken with food or immediately after meals and should be swallowed whole with some cold liquid. If you have obstructive gallbladder problems, consult a physician before taking artichoke. Allergic reactions may occur in people who are allergic to herbicide plants when using artichoke preparations; they need to stop taking these preparations right away.
Possible side effects
Many studies have confirmed that even after a continuous, long-term use, people can still tolerat artichoke leaves and have no problems. When used as food, the risk is very small, but in some people there may be side effects such as winds and mild gastrointestinal problems.
IMPORTANT: since this preparation increases bile secretion, you should consult your doctor before taking artichoke extract if you have obstructive problems with stomach.