Potential benefits of artichoke extract may include helping with digestive issues and reducing cholesterol. While evidence suggests few side effects, more research is necessary to confirm these benefits.

Some people choose to use artichoke extract for liver and digestive health, inflammation, or to treat conditions that have not responded well to traditional care. As with most forms of herbal medicine, artichoke extract relies on alternative medicine principles that lack conclusive scientific evidence.

No data suggest that it can replace standard medical care for any condition. The safest way to use artichoke extract is as a complement to traditional care. For example, a person making lifestyle changes to lower their cholesterol might also use artichoke extract.

Read on to learn more about artichoke extract and its role in alternative and complementary medicine.

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Artichoke extract consists of plant chemicals from the artichoke plant, usually the leaves. The active ingredient in artichoke extract is the chemical called cynarin.

During the extraction process, manufacturers blend the extract of many artichokes, potentially offering greater benefits than a person might get from eating a single artichoke.

In traditional herbal medicine, artichoke extract has a long history as a treatment for digestive and liver health issues. Emerging evidence suggests there may be science to support this use. However, the research is still limited.

While studies have shown some benefits to artichoke extract, most are small, low quality, or older studies. Newer research has not replicated these results.

This means that while the benefits are possible, they do not have scientific backing.

That said, some potential benefits of artichoke extract include the below.

Treating minor stomach issues

One of artichoke extract’s best-supported benefits is in the treatment of minor stomach issues such as indigestion and heartburn.

An older 2003 study compared artichoke extract with a placebo in people with chronic, unexplained indigestion. Compared with the placebo, those who took artichoke extract reported improvements in dyspepsia and quality of life.

Managing irritable bowel syndrome

Doctors do not fully understand irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or how to treat it. In the IBS community, artichoke extract is a somewhat popular anecdotal remedy.

However, research on its efficacy is very old.

For example, a 2004 study looked at the benefits of artichoke extract for 208 adults with IBS. According to their self-reported conclusions, participants had a 26.4% reduction in symptoms after 2 months of treatment.

Anticancer properties

Some research on cancer cells shows promise for artichoke extract as a cancer treatment.

A 2020 study added artichoke extract to squamous cell cancer lines. According to the authors, artichoke extract appeared to slow cell growth and kill cancer cells.

While this is a promising outcome, the study did not look at cancer in the human body. No research has shown artichoke extract can effectively treat cancer in humans.

Managing cholesterol

Some research has found that artichoke extract may help reduce cholesterol.

A 2018 meta-analysis looked at nine prior studies on this topic. The data suggest that artichoke extract could significantly reduce total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Liver health

Artichoke leaf extract may help protect or heal the liver.

According to a 2021 study of mice with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, taking artichoke extract suppressed disease symptoms, such as increases in serum lipids and bilirubin. Bilirubin refers to the breakdown of red blood cells. Mice that underwent treatment with artichoke extract also displayed reductions in inflammation and liver cell death.

While this research is promising, no evidence yet has shown that artichoke extract can treat liver health problems in humans.

The main risk of artichoke extract is similar to the risks of other dietary supplements.

Because supplements do not undergo full regulation, there is no guarantee of their efficacy or safety. This is true even when supplements may be as potent as medications.

Some potential risks and side effects include:

  • Drug interactions: Any chemical can interact with medications, and artichoke extract is no exception. Therefore, people taking medications, including both prescriptions and supplements, should discuss taking artichoke extract with a doctor.
  • Allergic reactions: Some individuals may develop allergies to artichoke or artichoke extract. Allergic reactions can be mild or severe.
  • Negative side effects: Research on artichoke extract has not extensively tested its safety, but most studies report few side effects.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements. Therefore, artichoke extract does not undergo regulation, and the FDA does not recommend a specific dosage of artichoke extract.

This means that if a person chooses to use artichoke extract, they should carefully select a product. Some strategies for choosing a safe option include:

  • asking a healthcare professional for recommendations
  • using products that disclose all of their ingredients
  • researching the reputation of the company and reading product reviews
  • choose brands that undergo third-party testing

Artichoke extract comes from artichokes, which are a safe food for most people to eat. Because it combines extracts from many artichokes, it may be more potent than simply adding the vegetable to a person’s diet.

This may offer some health benefits but can also pose some risks.

However, even natural substances can be harmful, and it is important to treat artichoke extract like any other medication. A doctor may be able to offer advice on when and how to best use artichoke extract.