As modern-day Americans, we face an onslaught of toxins today from the air we breathe to the food we eat.
And guess who takes the brunt of that toxic load?
So today, we want to discuss artichoke’s health benefits for your liver, and how this delicious plant can do far more than satisfy a craving.
Artichokes belong to the thistle species. In the US, the most common variety goes by several names - globe artichoke, green artichoke and/or French artichoke.
Its flower buds are edible and cultivated as food just before the flowers come into bloom. When the buds are left to bloom, they change into a more coarse form that you wouldn’t want to eat.
Native to the Mediterranean, artichoke was initially valued for its young leaves rather than its immature buds. Today, the cultivation of artichoke is primarily done in Italy, Spain and France – the countries that border the Mediterranean basin.
In the Americas, Argentina, Peru and the United States are the biggest producers. Interestingly, about 99% of all US commercial artichokes are grown in California.
Recently, artichokes have captured significant attention in the world of natural health due to their ability to augment the liver’s role in cleansing the body.
Simply put, artichoke is one of the best detox plants you’ll find on the market today that’s relatively inexpensive and easy to come by.
But how exactly does artichoke benefit the liver? Let’s see.
From protecting the liver against damage to boosting its function, artichokes are pretty impressive.
Current data suggests that artichokes can promote the release of bile from the liver, which is made possible by a chemical compound called cynarine.
Bile is synthesized by the liver and is one of the channels through which waste materials leave the liver and get excreted via the gut. Cynarine has been shown to both improve liver function and directly impact its secretory role.
This study published in the national center of biotechnology information (NCBI) revealed that artichoke not only enhances excretion of bile, but it also boosts the synthesis of bile by the liver.
By stimulating the synthesis of bile and enhancing its secretion, artichoke aids in ridding toxins from the body as they pass through the liver.
Studies have shown that artichoke leaf extracts can have significant effects on total cholesterol levels in the body.
In 2017, a scientific study reviewed over 700 participants and found out that supplementing with artichoke leaf extract on a daily basis for a period of between 5 to 13 weeks can lead to a significant reduction in low-density lipoproteins (LDL), commonly referred to as “bad cholesterol.”
Another study published in 2000 involved 143 participants and focused on the effect of artichoke extract on high levels of lipoproteins.
The study found that taking artichoke daily for six weeks decreased total body cholesterol by 18.5 % and decreased the level of bad cholesterol by up to 22.9%.
Besides, it has also been determined that artichoke extracts can increase levels of good cholesterol as well – aka high-density lipoproteins (HDL).
The effect of artichoke on cholesterol levels is based on two key mechanisms:
As previously mentioned, artichokes are among the best natural remedies for protecting your liver.
Many studies agree that extracts of artichoke leaf can actively protect the liver from damage and can even promote the growth of new liver tissue.
Let’s look at that more in-depth because it is truly remarkable...
Experimental and clinical evidence suggests that artichoke has significant hepatoprotective effects.
Although research on this plant and its effects on the liver are not entirely conclusive, reports indicate that artichoke demonstrates the ability to protect the liver to the extent of stimulating the growth of new cells in the liver - a physiologic process called hepatic hyperplasia, or simply, liver regeneration.
The liver is a very unique organ that can actually regrow when part of it is destroyed by disease or some other harmful agent such as alcohol.
However, there is a limit to which this regeneration is possible. Beyond this limit, further damage to the liver can lead to liver failure.
Studies have attributed liver failure to oxidative stress and inflammation. These processes are actively inhibited by cynarine – the naturally occurring compound in artichoke.
Other studies have linked another compound, silymarin, as partly responsible for the regenerative potential of liver cells due to its antioxidant effects.
In the 1966 study, such liver regenerative potential was demonstrated and observed in rats after part of their liver was removed. Results from the study showed clear signs of regeneration with increases in both liver tissue size and liver cell content.
The experiment was also noted to have stimulated cell division and increased the circulation of blood in the liver.
Although similar studies have not been done on human subjects, there is significant evidence that this same mechanism works in humans as well.
However, there are contraindications when it comes to using artichokes for liver health.
For instance, those with bile duct obstruction, gallstones and allergies to ragweed and related plants should not use artichoke.
This plant is also not advised for women who are pregnant or those who are breastfeeding.
The beneficial roles of artichoke in fatty liver disease have been extensively studied in humans.
For instance, a study involving 90 participants was done in 2018 evaluating how effective artichokes were in the management of people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Although NAFLD is the most widespread form of chronic liver disease, it can potentially be treated.
However, currently, there are very few pharmacotherapeutic agents available for treating this disease.
Fortunately, studies show just 600 mg of artichoke extract daily for a period of 2 months is able to improve liver function in people with fatty liver.
Another study done in 2017 augments the results from the study mentioned above.
The study, which sought to investigate the therapeutic correction of liver and biliary tract pathology among obese teens, found that daily supplementation with artichoke leaf extract for 2 months reduced both inflammation and fat deposits in the liver – two major contributing factors to NAFLD.
In our study of herbal remedies, we’ve always been impressed with artichoke and its health benefits for the liver. That’s why we used it in our organic liver support tincture called Liver Love.
Together with other liver supportive herbs like milk thistle and chicory root, it is an all-natural way to support a healthy liver and help prevent disease. Try it today!