Artichoke cuts irritable bowel, cholesterol

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that affects up to 22% of North Americans. Characterized by abdominal pain and diarrhea, IBS is notoriously difficult to treat. Dyspepsia, a condition similar in its symptoms to IBS, has been treated successfully with artichoke leaf extract. So researchers at the University of Reading in the UK wanted to see if artichoke leaf extract would also benefit IBS. The researchers reviewed the data from a previous study on artichoke leaf extract to find individuals with dyspepsia who also suffered from IBS.

In the study, the participants took artichoke leaf for six weeks. After the six-week period, participants with IBS reported decreased symptoms. In addition, 96% of them rated artichoke leaf extract as better than or equal to previously tried therapies.

Artichoke leaf extract is also beneficial for heart disease, especially for the reduction of high cholesterol. At Novartis Consumer Health in Germany, scientists looked at the effectiveness and tolerability of artichoke leaf extract for the management of high cholesterol. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 143 adults were given either a placebo or 1,800 mg of artichoke leaf extract each day for six weeks.

After the six-week period, the group taking artichoke leaf extract showed a significant decrease of 18.5% in their total cholesterol count, compared to 8.6% in the placebo group. Their LDL (“bad”) to HDL (“good”) cholesterol ratio was also improved. No adverse effects or reactions were noted in this study.

Sources: Phytother Res 2001 Feb;15(1):58-61; Arzneimittelforschung 2000 Mar;50(3):260-5