You rely on your liver for over 400 essential functions. This vital organ is working hard every day to filter out toxins and waste from your body as well as carrying hundreds of other purposes such as filtering your blood, producing the bile needed to digest and absorb fats and vitamins, breaking down hormones, and storing essential vitamins and minerals. There are several useful plants like artichoke that may help with your sluggish liver.
For the liver to take care of the body, it must be able to function optimally. Everyone’s well-being is dependent on how their body removes toxins from the body. Even if you are a healthy person, there are still ways that you can enhance your liver function so you can live a healthier life.
The most known herb for liver issues is Milk Thistle (Silymarin), but there are other powerful components, like Artichoke extract. Its effect on the liver is quite similar to Milk Thistle. In fact, most people believe that artichoke is a vegetable, but globe artichoke is actually a variety of a species of thistle cultivated as a food.
Herbalists all around the world use artichoke as a digestive tonic. Modern scientific studies have verified that Artichoke Extract can support healthy digestive function through its ability to promote healthy bile flow and fat digestion. In addition, Artichoke Extract contains flavonoids (such as luteolin and apigenin) that can support a healthy vascular system, eradicate free radicals and act as an anti-inflammatory agent.
The artichoke’s stem, leaf, and root are utilised to produce extracts which contain a high concentration of certain compounds found in the plant (such as cynarins).
Artichokes are mostly popular for detoxifying the body and improving the health of the liver. They also protect against some forms of cancer, support the immune system, lower cholesterol, and protect against diabetes, atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke. They aid in digestive issues including constipation, indigestion, heartburn, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and diarrhoea.
Moreover, this unusual little plant can reduce blood pressure, eliminate hangovers, reduce bad cholesterol and stimulate urination.
Two compounds discovered in artichokes: cynarin, and silymarin may improve the overall health of the liver by reducing the presence of toxins and helping their removal from the liver and the body.
Globe artichoke is indeed a potent antioxidant and has similar liver regenerating attributes to milk thistle. Artichoke helps with chronic liver diseases; it is a potent liver restorative and is beneficial for various liver and gallbladder disorders.
‘‘In animal studies, liquid extracts of the roots and leaves of artichoke have demonstrated an ability to protect the liver, with possibly even the ability to help liver cells regenerate.‘‘
Artichoke’s liver-protective, bile-enhancing, and lipid-lowering effects have been confirmed in several studies. The proven basis for the positive effects of artichoke leaf extract on the gastrointestinal system and liver health is the promotion of bile flow. One smaller study demonstrates the artichoke’s powerful ability to increase the secretion of bile:
‘‘320mg of Artichoke extract increased bile secretion by over 127% after 30 minutes, 151% after 60 minutes and 94% after 90 minutes.‘‘
Uses and Benefits
• Increases bile secretion and also improves the digestion of fats
• Reduces blood cholesterol levels
• Improves symptoms of bloating, nausea, dyspepsia, abdominal pain, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), hangover, and also constipation.
• Stimulates the growth of good probiotic bacteria in the bowel (thanks to inulin, a prebiotic fibre)
• Prevents liver damage (artichoke extract given before exposure to a known liver toxin displays the ability to inhibit liver injury – Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology, 2008).
• Turkish researchers found that artichoke leaf extract decreased fat and cholesterol levels in the liver
• Artichoke extract inhibited liver cancer in human liver cells and also protected liver cells from damage. (Nutrition and Cancer, 2008).
‘‘Impressive results were shown in a large open-label study of 417 participants with liver or bile duct disease. Most of these subjects had chronic problems, some of them for several years. They experienced upper abdominal pain, constipation, bloating, nausea, and also a lack of appetite. These patients were given artichoke leaf extract for 4 weeks. After one week, approximately 70% of the patients experienced improvement in their symptoms. And after 4 weeks, it was over 85% (Held, 1991).‘‘
For most issues – 320-1800mg daily of artichoke extract (in divided doses; three times daily), preferably with food.
Safety, Side Effects
You should not take artichoke extract if there is obstruction of bile ducts or jaundice. In case of gallstones, use under medical supervision. It also has diuretic effects, so anyone taking artichoke leaf should be aware of this as it may cause more frequent urination.
When you add this component to your diet in any way, start with a small amount and monitor your body’s response. As always, consult a medical professional or qualified herbalist before adding a powerful new component like this to your herbal regimen. In fact, it is always best to work with a natural medicine practitioner who is well-educated on using herbal medicine. It is especially important if you have any medical condition, if you are taking other medications, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or if you plan to start giving herbs to your children.
You can eat artichoke as a food. This works very well as a preventative method and is very safe. However, for the mighty benefits and if you have any issues, consider trying the extract, which has much higher concentrations of the beneficial compounds. Personally, I have used artichoke as a digestive aid and also to relive my GERD several years ago (along with other herbs) and it helped a lot.