Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) is a species of thistle. The edible part of the plant is the base of the artichoke head in bud, harvested well before any fruit develops. In traditional European medicine, the leaves of the artichoke (not the flower buds, which are the parts commonly cooked and eaten as a vegetable) were used as a diuretic to stimulate the kidneys and as a "choleretic" to stimulate the flow of bile from the liver and gallbladder.
Cynarin, luteolin, cynardoside (luteolin-7-O-glycoside), scolymoside, and chlorogenic acid are believed to be artichoke's active constituents. The most studied component, cynarin, is concentrated in the leaves.
Artichoke has been used in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), alcohol-induced hangover, and for its choleretic (stimulates bile release) and antioxidant properties.
Artichoke extracts are becoming increasingly available in the United States, with public interest and the availability of standardized extracts resulting in efforts to develop more rigorous support for clinical studies exploring the beneficial effects of artichoke.
Alcachofa, alcaucil, artichaut (French), artichiocco, artichoke, artichoke inulin, artichoke juice, Artischocke (German), artiskok, carciofo, cardo, cardo de comer, cardon d'Espagne, cardoon, chlorogenic acid, Cynara®, Cynara cardunculus, Cynara scolymus L., Cynarae folium, cynarin, cynaroside, French artichoke, garden artichoke, Gemuseartischocke (German), golden artichoke, Hekbilin A®, Hepar SL® forte, inulin, kardone, LI220, Listrocol®, luteolin, Raftiline®, scolymoside, tyosen-azami, Valverde Artischoke bei Verdauungsbeschwerden.
Note: Globe artichoke should not be mistaken for Jerusalem artichoke, which is the tuber of Helianthus tuberosa L. (a species of sunflower).
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Choleretic (Stimulates the release of bile)
Globe artichoke leaf extract has been found to increase bile secretion in animal, human and laboratory studies. Additional human study is needed to make a firm recommendation for artichoke as a choleretic.
Preliminary human study suggests that cynarin and artichoke extracts may reduce serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, additional study is needed to a make a strong recommendation.
Artichoke extract has been used and marketed as a hangover remedy. However, there is insufficient available evidence to form a clear conclusion in this area.
Antioxidant properties of artichoke have been noted, although long-term clinical effects in humans are not known. Additional study is needed to make a strong recommendation.
Dyspepsia (upset stomach)
One proposed etiology of non-ulcer dyspepsia is bile duct dyskinesia. Because globe artichoke extract has been studied as a choloretic, it has been hypothesized that it may also function as an antidyspeptic agent. Preliminary evidence supports this hypothesis, although more study is needed to draw a firm recommendation.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
There is insufficient available evidence to recommend for or against the use of artichoke in relieving the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.