Health Benefits of Artichoke Leaf Extract

Photo by: Flickr
Photo by: Flickr

Nature sometimes provides us with better ways to treat health conditions that don’t involve the use of synthetic drugs. One plant that’s been recognized for its medicinal benefits is the artichoke, one of mankind’s oldest cultivated plants. You may have enjoyed artichokes on a salad, but did you know that artichoke leaves help to relieve two common medical conditions?

Artichoke Health Benefits: Artichoke Leaves Lower Cholesterol

Preliminary studies show artichoke leaves lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 144 people with elevated cholesterol levels demonstrated the benefits of an extract made from artichoke leaves.

Compared to a placebo, artichoke leaf extract lowered total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol in participants with high cholesterol levels. In fact, their LDL cholesterol levels dropped by 23% – without affecting HDL. (the good cholesterol). Another study published in Phytomedicine also found cholesterol-lowering benefits of artichoke leaves although the results were more modest.

How does artichoke leaf extract lower cholesterol? Two components, luteolin and cyanarin, in artichokes interfere with cholesterol synthesis. Artichoke leaves have another heart-healthy benefit. They stimulate the release of a chemical from blood vessels that helps to widen them and reduce the risk of clot formation, which could lead to a heart attack.

Artichoke Leaves Are Good for Digestion

Artichoke leaves have been used medicinally to treat indigestion since ancient times. One double-blind study involving almost 250 participants showed that artichoke leaf extract was better than a placebo for treating mild indigestion. Another trial with over 500 participants found similar benefits.

Other studies suggest that an extract from artichoke leaves helps people who have irritable bowel syndrome, a functional disorder of the digestive tract that causes abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, constipation and bloating. This is a condition that’s notoriously hard to treat and artichoke leaf extract may offer some relief from this condition.

Olive leaf extract helps some types of indigestion by stimulating the gallbladder to release more bile into the digestive tract – which aids fat digestion. Of course, this could be harmful for people who have gall bladder disease. Anyone with known gallstones or gallbladder disease shouldn’t use artichoke leaf extract.

Artichoke Health Benefits: The Bottom Line?

Artichoke leaf extract is sold at health food stores and is safe – but pregnant women and people with gallbladder disease shouldn’t use it. As always, talk to your doctor before using this or any other supplement.