Artichoke Benefits and Health Effects

The artichoke is a member of the thistle family. The 2 compound  found in artichokes are silymarin and cynarin. Cynarin an active ingredient found in artichoke leaf is known to break down fats and improve bile flow. Also are rich in silymarin, an antioxidant that may improve liver health.

Artichoke Benefits and Researches

Artichoke is usually recommended for liver disease or damage, poor liver function and gallstones. It is also taken for digestive conditions like loss of, indigestion, appetite, bloating nausea, abdominal pain, and constipation. The active chemical compound in artichoke is cynarin. This ingredient is found in highest concentrations in the leaves. Artichokes also contain the flavonoid silymarin, a strong liver protectant. Like silymarin, cynara has showed important liver-protecting and regenerating properties.

Artichokes are high in the dietary fiber. A single boiled artichoke contains a whopping 10 g of fiber, and you’ll get 7 g of fiber from a half cup of artichoke hearts. The USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services ‘ Dietary Guidelines recommend women consume 21 to 25 g per day andmen consume 30 to 38 g per day of dietary fiber. Fiber has been found by scientists to be preventative for digestive disorders and colon cancer. Some of the strong antioxidants in artichokes are anthocyanins, rutin, quercetin, luteolin, silymarin, and cynarin. A July 2006 research examined the antioxidant levels of 1,113 foods and beverages and found that artichoke hearts had the highest level among all vegetables measured; they came in fourth among all foods and beverages tested. Antioxidants are associated with reducing the risk of cancers, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and other chronic diseases.

ArtichokeArtichoke leaf extract (ALEs) is made from the long, deeply serrated basal leaves of the artichoke plant. Some researches have shown that artichoke leaf extract can be beneficial for individuals suffering from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and dyspepsia, or upset stomachs. Irritable bowel syndrome is a illness reported to affect up to 20 % of the general population. According to a research reported in the Aug 2004, issue of the “Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine“, artichoke leaf extract (ALEs) can improve symptoms of IBS. In a study done at the “University of Reading“, 208 participants who suffered from irritable bowel syndrome and dyspepsia were monitored over a 2-month period of intervention with artichoke leaf extract. Results demonstrated a 26 % reduction in irritable bowel syndrome incidence among the patients at the end of the study. Dyspepsia symptoms decreased by 41% after therapy, and the patients noted a 20% increase in quality of life after therapy.

Commission E (Germany’s regulatory agency for herbs) approves the use of artichoke leaf for dyspeptic problems. In a study demonstrated an improvement of symptoms in 50% of participants with dyspeptic syndrome after 14 days of therapy with artichoke-leaf extract. In a 2003 study reported in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics , 129 participants with functional dyspepsia were given 640 mg of ALEs (artichoke-leaf extract) daily, while 115 patients took a placebo. After 6 weeks of therapy; those who received ALEs reported a significantly greater reduction in symptoms and improvement in quality of life than patients who took a placebo. In one study of 553 participants, digestive disturbances improved after 6 weeks of treatment with artichoke leaf extract on average 70%. Improvements in flatulence (68%), severe constipation (71%), loss of appetite (72%), abdominal pain (76%), nausea (83%) and vomiting (88%) were noted. These improvements of symptoms were seen after 2 to 6 weeks of therapy.

Artichoke extract is made from the leaf of the artichoke and called Cynara scolymus. Artichoke leaf extracts have showed important benefits and potential as an antioxidant and hepatoprotective. A 1987 study that focused on the effects of rat liver cells (hepatocytes) subjected to harmful chemical agents found both cynarin and caffeic acids to have important protective properties. The use of ALEs clearly indicated an apparent decreased of liver injury. As reported in the Sept 2008 issue of “Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology“, scientists studied whether pre-treatment with artichoke extract could protect against liver damage. Researchers found that artichoke extract administered prior to exposure to a known liver toxin demonstrates the ability to prevent liver injury. Important findings were showed in a open label study of 417 patients with liver or bile duct disease. Most of these participants had long-standing symptoms. These participants were treated with ALEs for four weeks. After 1 week, approximately 70% of the participants experienced healing of their symptoms, and after 4 weeks, this proportion was 85%.

Researches have shown that the antioxidants quercetin, rutin, and gallic acid found in artichoke leaf extract are able to induce apoptosis and reduce the proliferation of cancer cells. Studies done with artichoke leaf extract have found that they induce apoptosis and reduce cell proliferation in many different forms of cancer, including  leukemia, breast and prostate cancer. Artichoke polyphenols induce apoptosis and reduces the invasive potential of the human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB231. One in vitro study using the MDA-MB 231 breast cancer cell line showed that the polyphenols of artichoke was able to induce 60% apoptosis at 600 uM concentration over 24 hours.

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