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What other names is Artichoke known by?

Alcachofa, Alcaucil, ALE, Artichaut, Artichaut Commun, Artichoke Extract, Artichoke Fruit, Artichoke Leaf, Artichoke Leaf Extract, Artischocke, Cardo, Cardo de Comer, Cardon d'Espagne, Cardoon, Cynara, Cynara cardunculus, Cynara scolymus, Garden Artichoke, Gemuseartischocke, Globe Artichoke, Kardone, Tyosen-Azami.

What is Artichoke?

Artichoke is a plant. The leaf, stem, and root are used to make "extracts" which contain a high concentration of certain chemicals found in the plant. These extracts are used as medicine.

Artichoke is used to stimulate the flow of bile from the liver, and this is thought to help reduce the symptoms of heartburn and alcohol "hangover." Artichoke is also used for high cholesterol, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), kidney problems, anemia, fluid retention (edema), arthritis, bladder infections, and liver problems.

Some people use artichoke for treating snakebites, preventing gallstones, lowering blood pressure, lowering blood sugar; to increase urine flow; and as a tonic or stimulant.

In foods, artichoke leaves and extracts are used to flavor beverages. Cynarin and chlorogenic acid, which are chemicals found in artichoke, are sometimes used as sweeteners.

Don't confuse artichoke with Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus).

Possibly Effective for...

  • Indigestion. Artichoke leaf extract seems to reduce symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, flatulence, and stomach pain in people with indigestion. Improvement seems to occur after 2 to 8 weeks of treatment.
  • High cholesterol. Taking a specific artichoke extract (Valverde Artischocke, Novartis Consumer Health) seems to modestly reduce total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol, and the LDL/high density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") ratio after 6 to 12 weeks of treatment. Studies using cynarin, a specific chemical found in artichoke, have shown conflicting results. Drinking frozen artichoke juice does not seem to lower cholesterol levels and may increase levels of blood fats called triglycerides.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Alcohol-induced hangover. Some evidence shows that taking an artichoke extract does not prevent a hangover after drinking alcohol.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Disorders affecting bile flow in the liver. Early research suggests that a specific artichoke leaf product (Cynarix) improves the flow of bile from the liver and gallbladder.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Early research suggests that artichoke extract might reduce symptoms of IBS. In one study, a specific artichoke leaf extract (Hepar-SL forte, Serturner Arzneimittel GmbH) reduced abdominal pain and cramping, bloating, gas, and constipation associated with IBS after 6 weeks of treatment. In another study, a different specific artichoke leaf extract (Cynara SL, Lichtwer Pharma) reduced the occurrence of IBS symptoms in patients with heartburn by about 26%. People taking this extract also reported improvement in their quality of life after 2 months of treatment.
  • Water retention.
  • Snakebites.
  • Kidney problems.
  • Anemia.
  • Arthritis.
  • Liver problems.
  • Preventing gallstones.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of artichoke for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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