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Artichoke Contributions by ColleenO

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Safety Issues

Artichoke leaf has not been associated with significant side effects in studies so far, but full safety testing has not been completed. For this reason, it should not be used by pregnant or nursing women. Safety in young children or in people with severe liver or kidney disease has also not been established.

In addition, because artichoke leaf is believed to stimulate gallbladder contraction, individuals with gallstones or other forms of gallbladder disease could be put at risk by using this herb. Such individuals should use artichoke leaf only under the supervision of a physician. It is possible that increased gallbladder contraction could lead to obstruction of ducts or even rupture of the gallbladder.

Finally, individuals with known allergies to artichokes or related plants in the Asteraceae family, such as arnica or chrysanthemums, should avoid using artichoke or cynarin preparations.

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  • Integrative MD
  • Naturopathic doctor
  • Clinical nutritionist
  • Herbalist
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Germany's Commission E recommends 6 g of the dried herb or its equivalent per day, usually divided into 3 doses. Artichoke leaf extracts should be taken according to label instructions.

Warning: People with gallbladder disease should use artichoke only under medical supervision (see Side Effects & Warnings).

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  1. Englisch W, Beckers C, Unkauf M, et al. Efficacy of artichoke dry extract in patients with hyperlipoproteinemia. Arzneimittelforschung. 2000;50:260-265.
  2. Petrowicz O, Gebhardt R, Donner M, et al. Effects of artichoke leaf extract (ALE) on lipoprotein metabolism in vitro and in vivo [abstract]. Atherosclerosis. 1997;129:147.
  3. Kraft K. Artichoke leaf extract—recent findings reflecting effects on lipid metabolism, liver and gastrointestinal tracts. Phytomedicine. 1997;4:369-378.
  4. Bundy R, Walker AF, Middleton RW, et al. Artichoke leaf extract ( Cynara scolymus) reduces plasma cholesterol in otherwise healthy hypercholesterolemic adults: A randomized, double blind placebo controlled trial. Phytomedicine. 2008 Apr 16.
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In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 143 individuals with elevated cholesterol, artichoke leaf extract significantly improved cholesterol readings.81 Total cholesterol fell by 18.5% as compared to 8.6% in the placebo group; LDL cholesterol fell by 23% versus 6%; and the LDL to HDL ratio decreased by 20% versus 7%.

In a subsequent study of 75 otherwise healthy people with high cholesterol, artichoke leaf extract significantly reduced total cholesterol compared to placebo, but it did not affect LDL, HDL, or triglycerides levels.283

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Artichoke leaf may work by interfering with cholesterol synthesis.82 A compound in artichoke called luteolin may play a role in reducing cholesterol.83

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Although primarily used to stimulate gallbladder function, artichoke leaf may be helpful for high cholesterol as well.

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Artichoke leaf may work by interfering with cholesterol synthesis.82 A compound in artichoke called luteolin may play a role in reducing cholesterol.83

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