Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus)

Traditional Indications

Globe artichoke is anticholesterolemic, antirheumatic, cholagogue, digestive, diuretic, hypoglycaemic and lithotropic. The globe artichoke has become important as a medicinal herb in recent years following the discovery of cynarin. This bitter-tasting compound, which is found in the leaves, improves liver and gall bladder function, stimulates the secretion of digestive juices, especially bile, and lowers blood cholesterol levels. Globe artichoke is used internally in the treatment of chronic liver and gall bladder diseases, jaundice, hepatitis, arteriosclerosis and the early stages of Type II diabetes. (1)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine Globe artichoke is called Yang Ji. Yang Ji enters the Liver, Heart and Stomach channels and cools Liver heat and alleviate headaches, digestive disorders, diarrhoea and constipation. Yang Ji also tonifies the Spleen/Stomach Qi to regulate digestion. (2)

Pharmacognosy

Actives constituents include the flavonoids luteolin which inhibits Cytochrome P450 (CYP 3A4 & CYP3A5) (this is desirable in excess persistent organic pollutant bioaccumulation (toxicity) as toxins induce or speed up Phase I liver detoxification pathways leading to Phase II detoxification pathways being overburdened) (3) and the hydroxycinnamic acid, cynarin which stimulates glucuronidation conjugation. Artichoke has potent antioxidant activity & reduces toxin-induced reduction of glutathione reserves. (4)

The hepatocurative effects of Cynara scolymus are well documented. (5) Studies suggest artichoke has potent antioxidant activity and reduces toxin-induced reduction of glutathione reserves. (6)

Cynara scolymus displays anticholestatic (breaks up gall stones) activity contributed to the active constituent flavonoids. (7)

A systematic review and meta-analysis on globe artichoke indicates effective lipid-lowering activity concluding globe artichoke extract contributes to a significant reduction in both total and LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides, suggesting supplementation may be synergistic with lipid-lowering therapy in patients with hyperlipidemia. (8)

Artichoke extract supplementation may improve serum triglyceride level in women with Metabolic Syndrome. (9)

Globe artichoke extract is effective therapeutic agent to treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), the most common cause of chronic liver disease worldwide. (10)

1. PFAF. Cynara scolymus 2019.
2. Healing WRIo. Artichoke (Yang Ji) 2018.
3. Quintieri L, Palatini P, Nassi A, Ruzza P, Floreani M. Flavonoids diosmetin and luteolin inhibit midazolam metabolism by human liver microsomes and recombinant CYP 3A4 and CYP3A5 enzymes. Biochemical pharmacology. 2008;75(6):1426-37.
4. Gebhardt R. Antioxidative and protective properties of extracts from leaves of the artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) against hydroperoxide-induced oxidative stress in cultured rat hepatocytes. Toxicology and applied pharmacology. 1997;144(2):279-86.
5. Colak E, Ustuner MC, Tekin N, Colak E, Burukoglu D, Degirmenci I, et al. The hepatocurative effects of Cynara scolymus L. leaf extract on carbon tetrachloride-induced oxidative stress and hepatic injury in rats. SpringerPlus. 2016;5:216-.
6. Gebhardt R. Antioxidative and Protective Properties of Extracts from Leaves of the Artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) against Hydroperoxide-Induced Oxidative Stress in Cultured Rat Hepatocytes. Toxicology and applied pharmacology. 1997;144(2):279-86.
7. Gebhardt R. Anticholestatic activity of flavonoids from artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) and of their metabolites. Medical science monitor : international medical journal of experimental and clinical research. 2001;7 Suppl 1:316-20.
8. Sahebkar A, Pirro M, Banach M, Mikhailidis DP, Atkin SL, Cicero AFG. Lipid-lowering activity of artichoke extracts: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2017:1-8.
9. Rezazadeh K, Rahmati-Yamchi M, Mohammadnejad L, Ebrahimi-Mameghani M, Delazar A. Effects of artichoke leaf extract supplementation on metabolic parameters in women with metabolic syndrome: Influence of TCF7L2-rs7903146 and FTO-rs9939609 polymorphisms. 2018;32(1):84-93.
10. Panahi Y, Kianpour P, Mohtashami R, Atkin SL, Butler AE, Jafari R, et al. Efficacy of artichoke leaf extract in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: A pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial. 2018;32(7):1382-7.