Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus), also known as globe artichoke, is a common vegetable in the thistle family that is native to the Mediterranean region and now widely cultivated throughout temperate areas of Europe and North America. In recent years, the plant has been studied for its effectiveness is lowering cholesterol and in improving liver function. Most recently, scientists have found that compounds in the leaf may offer a viable therapy for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a metabolic disorder that is a major cause of chronic liver disease.
Artichoke contains a number of active constituents, including cynarine, an ingredient of silybin, the key component of silymarin, the standardized extract obtained from milk thistle seeds that is used to treat cirrhosis of the liver. Other notable compounds present are apigenin and luteolin, both of which have demonstrated chemoprotective properties. Collectively, the flavonoids, sesquiterpenes and antioxidants in artichoke leaf may help patients with NAFLD for whom pharmaceutical therapies have failed.
In a randomized, double-blind, controlled pilot study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, 90 adults undergoing treatment at the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Clinic of Baqiyatallah Hospital in Tehran, Iran were randomly assigned to one of two groups -- one group received artichoke leaf extract standardized to contain 2 mg cynarine every eight hours and other a placebo. After 60 days of observance and analysis, the researchers noted that the treatment group experienced a significant improvement in serum uric acid levels, low-density cholesterol (LDL), triglycerides and total cholesterol over the placebo group.
Sahebkar A, Pirro M, Banach M, Mikhailidis DP, Atkin SL, Cicero AFG. Lipid‐lowering activity of artichoke extracts: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. [published online June 13, 2017]. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2017.1332572.