Artichoke Extract

Artichoke Extract (Cynara scolymus) is an extract from the common bulb vegetable that appears to have the ability to stimulate bile secretion; this may underlie a weak reduction in cholesterol and improved fat digestion.

This page features 41 unique references to scientific papers.

How to Take

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

A few doses have been used in human studies, including 6,000 mg of the basic extract (no concentrations) and also a 25-35:1 concentrated extract dosed at 1,800 mg. Both of these doses showed bioactivity, but there is no clear indication of which is the optimal dosage.

It is unclear whether artichoke extract needs to be taken alongside a meal or not.

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Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what effects artichoke extract has on your body, and how strong these effects are.

Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
LDL-C Minor Moderate See all 4 studies
Nothing remarkable about the reductions in LDL-C, seem to occur somewhat reliably and are minor in magnitude
Liver Enzymes Minor Very High See study
More evidence is required to establish the potency of the hepatoprotective effects (with liver enzymes as a biomarker)
Total Cholesterol Minor Moderate See all 4 studies
Despite its traditional usage, the decreases in cholesterol are not remarkable and are quite small in magnitude.
Blood Glucose - Very High See 2 studies
There is still a possibility that artichoke extract is able to aid the blood glucose of diabetics, but currently the best evidence does not support this conclusion
HDL-C - Very High See all 3 studies
There does not appear to be an inherent effect of Artichoke on HDL-C, although the one study in diabetics suggest that HDL-C might increase when glucose is decreased.
Triglycerides - Very High See all 4 studies
The two better controlled trials noted no change, whereas a decrease and increase has been noted otherwise. Unclear overall effects on triglycerides
Blood Flow Minor Very High See study
The increase in blood flow was relatively minor in magnitude, possibly related to antioxidant effects.
Cell Adhesion Factors Minor Very High See study
ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 decreased, not to a remarkable degree that would be indicative of immunosuppression.

Scientific Research

Table of Contents:

  1. 1 Sources and Composition
    1. 1.1 Sources
    2. 1.2 Composition
  2. 2 Neurology
    1. 2.1 Appetite
  3. 3 Cardiovascular Health
    1. 3.1 Cholesterol (Absorption)
    2. 3.2 Cholesterol (Serum)
    3. 3.3 Endothelium
  4. 4 Interactions with Glucose Metabolism
    1. 4.1 Interventions
  5. 5 Interactions with Organ Systems
    1. 5.1 Alimentary Canal
    2. 5.2 Liver
  6. 6 Interactions with Cancer
    1. 6.1 Breast
  7. 7 Interactions with Oxidation
  8. 8 Interactions with Sexuality
    1. 8.1 Erectile Function
  9. 9 Interactions with Aesthetics
    1. 9.1 Hair
  10. 10 Safety and Toxicity
    1. 10.1 Genotoxicity

1Sources and Composition

1.1. Sources

Artichoke Extract is a term used to refer to plant extracts from Cynara Scolymus, and apparently has a short history of medicinal use to treat dyspepsia (related to its choleretic effects)[1] for gout,[2] and for anti-diabetic actions.[3] It should be noted that Cynara Scolymus is referring to Globe Artichoke, a perennial thistle of the Asteraceae plant family, and that this is the same plant bulb (capitlua) that is commonly eaten as a vegetable in North America, Europe, and the Mediterranean.[4][5]

Other 'Artichokes' include Stachys affinis (Chinese Artichoke) Helianthus tuberosus (Jerusalem Artichoke), the latter of which is also a food product but is a tuber (resembling a Yucca, or a Potatoe covered in tree bark).

Artichoke extract refers to the species Cynara Scolymus, which is the same as the edible Artichoke commonly eaten as a vegetable in the west

1.2. Composition

Artichoke extract contains:

  • Luteolin (27.71-215.52mg/kg) and the glycoside Luteolin-7-O-Glucopyranoside, the latter being known as Cynaroside.[6] These two are seen as the active Luteolin compounds, and are named after Cynara due to this

  • Other Luteolin compounds such as Luteolin 7-O-rutinoside, Luteolin 7-O-glucoside, and Luteolin 7-O-glucuronide;[4] all Luteolin compounds collectively range from 24.6-73.8g/kg, or 2.5-7.4% (variance depending on cultivar) and most being 7-O-glucoside[4]

  • Caffeoylquinic acids including Cynarin (aka. 1,3-dicaffeoylquinic acid)[6] and others such as 1-O-caffeoylquinic acid, 3-O-caffeoylquinic acid, 4-O-caffeoylquinic acid, 5-O-caffeoylquinic acid, and Caffeic acid.[4] Total caffeoylquinic acids range from 3139.02-7270.11mg/kg (0.3-0.7%)[4]

  • Chlorogenic Acid (aka. 5-O-caffeoylquinic acid)[7][6] ranging from 106.39-423.94mg/kg (0.01-0.04%)[4]

  • Apigenin (as 7-O-glucuronide, 7-O-glucoside, and 7-O-rutinoside)[4] with total Apigenin compounds ranging from 43.74-6477.68mg/kg (0.004-0.650%)[4]

  • Sterols including Beta-Sitosterol, Stigmaterol, and Campesterol[8]

  • If the fiber component is not removed, then an Inulin content[9] of 30.6-36.7% dry weight.[10]

  • If not otherwise removed, a mineral content including Potassium (14.1-25.3g/kg), Magnesium (0.8-2g/kg), Calcium (3.1-5.5g/kg), and Sodium (0.8-2.6g/kg); all highly affected by genotype, cultivar, and season[11]

  • Microminerals of Zinc (16.7-40.4mg/kg), Copper (4.7-10.5mg/kg), Manganese (8.5-14mg/kg), and Iron (34.3-82.2mg/kg)[11]

The total phenolic content of Artichoke is actually higher in the leaves than in the head (edible capitula).[4]

Luteolin and Caffeoylquinic acids are seen as the main bioactives of Artichoke extract


2.1. Appetite

Some studies have investigated the effects of Artichoke Extract and its ability to reduce food intake, usually in combination with Phaseolus Vulgaris (White Kidney Bean Extract), where Artichoke appears to be ineffective while the latter is somewhat effective at reducing food intake.[12] This inefficacy with Artichoke Extract has been noted elsewhere.[13]

The combination of the two extracts has been shown to reduce food intake in obese (BMI greater than 35) persons without highly abnormal health parameters. When subjects were prompted to adhere to a caloric limit each day, those given 100mg White Kidney Bean Extract and 200mg Artichoke (BONVIT® at 30-60% caffeoylquinic acid) over 8 weeks where the supplemented group reported less hunger which may have underlied improvements in glucose levels and BMI.[14]

Does not appear to reduce voluntary food intake in rodents, and is confounded in some research where White Kidney Bean Extract does so

3Cardiovascular Health

3.1. Cholesterol (Absorption)

Artichoke extract appears to induce secretion of cholephilic compounds bile canaliculi,[15] which then leads to accumulation of bile acids in the intestines.[1] This increase of bile acids in the intestines has been demonstrated (in rodents) to be the cause of cholesterol reducing effects associated with artichokes.[16]

In rats given 100, 200, or 400mg/kg Artichoke extract (80% bioactives), bile flow into the intestines appears to be increased in a dose-dependent manner. In comparison to 20mg/kg Dehydocholic acid (DHCA), 400mg/kg was not significantly different, 100mg/kg was not significantly different than control, and 200mg/kg was in between.[1]

The mechanism underlying cholesterol-reducing effects of Artichoke seem to be its bile acid secreting effects, which simultaneously reduce plasma cholesterol and increase fatty acid absorption (both due to increased intestinal fatty acids)

3.2. Cholesterol (Serum)

Artichoke, at 0.25ng/mL, appears to inhibit the HMG-CoA reductase enzyme by approximately 30% (with Atorvastatin as active control reducing activity by 50% at this concentration).[17]

Artichoke extract at 26mg/kg in rats (1.6g human dose) was unable to acutely reduced the spike in triglycerides from Pluronic F-127 and in response to a 10-day high fat diet in rats it also appeared to fail in isolation.[17] When artichoke was paired with turmeric (contains Curcumin) and Prickly Pear Fruit at 80mg/kg and 22mg/kg (5.6 and 1.5g human doses), however, the combination appeared to rival Atorvastatin (statin drug) at 10mg/kg on all serum parameters; adding Garlic to the mixture did not provide further benefit.[17]

Lacklustre results in rats given oral Artichoke extract in isolation; combination therapy may be more effective

In human interventions, a study of 18 moderately hyperlipidemic patients consuming the juice made from artichoke leaves (20mL; 2.5% fiber, 0.7% glucydes) in conjunction with a standard hypolipidemic diet for 6 weeks reported an increase in triglycerides associated with treatment only and a decrease in total cholesterol and LDL-C that occured in both groups (due to the diet intervention).[18] In comparison to this low dose study, one study using a 450mg Extract capsule (25-35:1 concentration) four times daily (1,800mg total) in persons with high cholesterol (7.3mmol/L or more) was associated with an 18.6% reduction in total cholesterol, 22.9% reduction in LDL-C, and no significant influence on either HDL-C (despite the ratio being improved) or Triglycerides.[19] A third study (double-blind) with 1280mg Artichoke extract also suggests cholesterol reducing properties with 75 adults with high cholesterol over 12 weeks, but only the difference between artichoke (4.2% reduction) and placebo (2% increase) was significant; the reduction of total cholesterol from baseline to final was not significant, nor was any alteration in LDL-C, HDL-C, or triglycerides.[20] This latter study used 1280mg of a 4-6:1 extract, so it is possible it was underdosed.

Only one study has currently noted increases in HDL-C with 500mg Artichoke extract,[21] which is in contrast to previous studies using both lower[18] and higher[19][20] doses. Similar to this, only one study has been conducted noting a reduction in triglycerides, where 15 diabetics given 6g artichoke powder hidden in crackers experienced a 10% reduction in triglycerides after 90 days;[22] all other studies note either no net effect or an increase in triglycerides (according to one study[18]).

Summarizing all the above, a Cochrane Meta-anlaysis on the topic was only able to find 3 studies fitting inclusion criteria and deemed the ability of Artichoke extract to reduce cholesterol levels preliminary but promising.[23]

Appears to have potential to reduce circulating cholesterol levels, but relative to other compounds the body of literature is quite small. The potency of Artichoke Extract is minimal, even at higher doses, and seems unreliable

3.3. Endothelium

Flavonoids from Artichoke appear to be able to increase iNOS gene expression in human endothelial cells,failing to acutely increase NO production in vitro and instead requiring a prolonged incubation time.[6] These benefits appeared to come mostly from Luteolin and its glycoside, Luteolin-7-O-glucopyranoside.[6]

In vitro, Artichoke extracts have been shown to prevent oxidation of LDL (into oLDL)[24] and reduce the oxidative effects of oLDL on the endothelium and immune cells (monocytes) in vitro.[25]

Mechanistically, Artichoke flavonoids appear to induce Nitric Oxide and exert anti-oxidative properties

6 week consumption of artichoke juice in conjunction with a standard AHA hypolipidemic diet recorded decreases in VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 (30.3% and 16.8%) with no change in E-selectin, these changes were accompanied by an increase in blood flow (36%) despite no significant changes in lipoproteins.[18]

Has been shown to increased blood flow, suggesting the above mechanisms are relevant after oral ingestion

4Interactions with Glucose Metabolism

4.1. Interventions

Rats fed 500, 1000, or 1500mg/kg Artichoke extract (from flowering buds) one hour prior to an oral glucose tolerance test was able to reduce subsequent glycemia for 6 hours post-ingestion (with the increase being attenuated 24%, 29.5%, and 41% respectively); thin mice found benefit with all doses whereas obese mice required the highest dose.[26] Similar results have been shown in humans, where boiled artichoke seems to reduce postprandial (after meal) glucose spikes in healthy controls while it was much less effective in persons with metabolic syndrome; this study was conducted with a related species of Artichoke (cardunculus rather than scolymus).[27]

Acutely, Artichoke may reduce glucose spikes after a meal with more efficacy in lean individuals and much less in obese persons; reasons unknown

Another human study does note a reduction in glucose after 12 weeks of consuming 200mg Artichoke extract, but aside from being confounded with White Kidney Bean Extract it also reported weight loss due to appetite reduction (known to reduce blood glucose inherently)[14] which mimicks previous animal research with the two compounds.[12] The only other chronic studies not confounded with White Kidney Bean are one in type II diabetic persons, 6g of Artichoke powder (hidden in wheat crackers) was given for 90 days and associated with a 15% reduction in fasting glucose and 7.9% reduction in postprandial glucose relative to control[22] and another where glucose was measured after supplementation with 1800mg 25-35:1 concentrated extract and no reductions were noted in hyperlipidemics.[19]

Studies looking at long-term artichoke usage and glycemia are too hetereogeneous to come to conclusions, but it does not seem too promising

5Interactions with Organ Systems

5.1. Alimentary Canal

Artichoke extract appears to induce secretion of cholephilic compounds bile canaliculi,[15] which then leads to accumulation of bile acids in the intestines.[1]

In the colon, Inulin (a dietary fiber extracted from species of Artichoke) is able to proliferate the bacteria in the colon. Artichoke bacteria tends to have Inulins with a very high degree of polymerization relative to other Inulins[28] (since 'Inulins' tend to have a chain length of 2-60) and have been reported to have a degree of polymerization of up to 200.[29] Ingestion of 10g Inulin from Artichoke daily (average degree of polymerization of 55 or more) for 3 weeks in a sample of otherwise healthy persons was associated with an increase in colonic Bifidobacterium (2.82-fold increase) and, although attenuated, still persisted after cessation of dietary Inulin.[9] An alteration in short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) was also noted with Inulin ingestion, but these were not statistically significant.[9]

The fiber component of Artichoke extract (not the polyphenols, fiber may not be in concentrated extracts) appears to have prebiotic properties

5.2. Liver

One study in persons with high cholesterol has noted decreases in liver enzymes associated with high dose (1,800mg of a 25-35:1 concentrated extract) of artichoke, where over 45 days a decrease was seen for y-GT (25.8%), AST (17.3%), and ALT (15.2%) with no influence on GLDH.[19]

6Interactions with Cancer

6.1. Breast

One in vitro study using the MDA-MB231 breast cancer cell line noted that the polyphenols of Artichoke (1/1 water/ethanolic extract of mostly caffeoylquinic acids) was able to induce 60% apoptosis at 600uM concentration over 24 hours; lower but significant degrees of cytotoxicity were seen in n BT549, T47D, and MCF-7 cancer cell lines but not MCF10A normal breast epithelial cells.[30] 400uM abolished cell proliferation in MDA-MB231 cells over 6 days and reduced the invasive potential of these cells, and these effects were thought to be mediated via the Chlorogenic Acid content of Artichoke.[30]

7Interactions with Oxidation

The anti-oxidant potential of artichoke appears to be less than that of turmeric (dietary source of Curcumin) but more than that of rosemary and dandilion root.[31]

8Interactions with Sexuality

8.1. Erectile Function

The active luteolin compounds are thought to be pro-erectile due to PDE5 inhibition, the mechanism of action of Viagra. Luteolin is a high affinity phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitor, but is non-selective and affects all 5 isozymes of PDE.[32] The affinity for PDE4 in displacing other agonists (Rolipram) appears to have an EC50 of 11.2uM[32] and a previous study looking at IC50 studies for inhibition noted that all isozymes had an IC50 of around 10-20uM with Luteolin[33] where the prevalent glycoside in Artichoke extract (Luteolin-7-Glucoside) inhibited mostly PDE2 and PDE4 with a weaker IC50 of 40uM.[33]

Although Luteolin compounds appear to inhibit the phosphodiesterase class of enzymes, it is not a specific inhibition of PDE5 (One of the mechanisms of action of Viagra) and less than desirable for a pro-erectile agent

9Interactions with Aesthetics

9.1. Hair

UV rays (sunlight) tend to inherently damage melanin and protein constituents of hair follicles (correlated with color and structure of hair, respectively)[34] which is thought to be mediated by an induction of oxidation (Reactive Oxygen Species; ROS) damaging sulfur linkages of proteins,[35] inducing lipid peroxidation,[36] and degrading melanin.[37] These changes can be abrogated with anti-oxidant compounds, and this has been seen in vitro when hair follicles were treated with a shampoo-like solution containing Artichoke extract at 5%.[38]

May protect hair from UV damage, but this may not be a unique effect of Artichoke and merely an effect of anti-oxidants in general

10Safety and Toxicity

10.1. Genotoxicity

One in vitro study investigating DNA damange induced by ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS; known genotoxic agent) and assessed by comet assay (to detect DNA damange[39][40]) noted that 0.62-5mg/mL was able to induce genetic damage in Chinese Hamster Ovarian (CHO) cells, with 5mg/mL not being significantly different than 350uM EMS.[41]

When incubated either before or after EMS, Artichoke extract appears to nonsignificantly enhance genotoxicity; when coincubated, 0.62mg/mL is associated with a 77% reduction of EMS-induced genotoxicity; suggesting competition at the genome (1.25 and 2.5mg/mL reducing genotoxicity by 17 and24.6%, respectively).[41]

Interacts with DNA. Practical relevance of these results unknown

Scientific Support & Reference Citations


  1. Saénz Rodriguez T, García Giménez D, de la Puerta Vázquez R Choleretic activity and biliary elimination of lipids and bile acids induced by an artichoke leaf extract in rats . Phytomedicine. (2002)
  2. Sarawek S, et al Flavonoids of Cynara scolymus possess potent xanthinoxidase inhibitory activity in vitro but are devoid of hypouricemic effects in rats after oral application . Planta Med. (2008)
  3. Trojan-Rodrigues M, et al Plants used as antidiabetics in popular medicine in Rio Grande do Sul, southern Brazil . J Ethnopharmacol. (2012)
  4. Negro D, et al Polyphenol compounds in artichoke plant tissues and varieties . J Food Sci. (2012)
  6. Li H, et al Flavonoids from artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) up-regulate endothelial-type nitric-oxide synthase gene expression in human endothelial cells . J Pharmacol Exp Ther. (2004)
  7. Jaiswal R, Kiprotich J, Kuhnert N Determination of the hydroxycinnamate profile of 12 members of the Asteraceae family . Phytochemistry. (2011)
  8. M Hassanein MM, El-Shami SM, El-Mallah MH Investigation of lipids profiles of Nigella, lupin and artichoke seed oils to be used as healthy oils . J Oleo Sci. (2011)
  9. Costabile A, et al A double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study to establish the bifidogenic effect of a very-long-chain inulin extracted from globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) in healthy human subjects . Br J Nutr. (2010)
  10. Cynara cardunculus L., a potential source of inulin in the Mediterranean environment: screening of genetic variability
  11. Pandino G, Lombardo S, Mauromicale G Mineral profile in globe artichoke as affected by genotype, head part and environment . J Sci Food Agric. (2011)
  12. Loi B, et al Reducing Effect of a Combination of Phaseolus vulgaris and Cynara scolymus Extracts on Food Intake and Glycemia in Rats . Phytother Res. (2012)
  13. Zaru A, et al Reducing Effect of a Combination of Phaseolus vulgaris and Cynara scolymus Extracts on Operant Self-Administration of a Chocolate-Flavoured Beverage in Rats . Phytother Res. (2012)
  14. Rondanelli M, et al Appetite Control and Glycaemia Reduction in Overweight Subjects treated with a Combination of Two Highly Standardized Extracts from Phaseolus vulgaris and Cynara scolymus . Phytother Res. (2011)
  15. Various cellular effects exerted by polyphenol constituents of artichoke extracts in cultured rat hepatocytes
  16. Qiang Z, et al Artichoke extract lowered plasma cholesterol and increased fecal bile acids in Golden Syrian hamsters . Phytother Res. (2012)
  17. Qinna NA, et al Effects of prickly pear dried leaves, artichoke leaves, turmeric and garlic extracts, and their combinations on preventing dyslipidemia in rats . ISRN Pharmacol. (2012)
  18. Lupattelli G, et al Artichoke juice improves endothelial function in hyperlipemia . Life Sci. (2004)
  19. Englisch W, et al Efficacy of Artichoke dry extract in patients with hyperlipoproteinemia . Arzneimittelforschung. (2000)
  20. Bundy R, et al Artichoke leaf extract (Cynara scolymus) reduces plasma cholesterol in otherwise healthy hypercholesterolemic adults: a randomized, double blind placebo controlled trial . Phytomedicine. (2008)
  21. Rondanelli M, et al Beneficial effects of artichoke leaf extract supplementation on increasing HDL-cholesterol in subjects with primary mild hypercholesterolaemia: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial . Int J Food Sci Nutr. (2012)
  22. Hypoglycemic and Hypolipidemic Effect of Cynara Scolymus among Selected Type 2 Diabetic Individuals
  23. Wider B, et al Artichoke leaf extract for treating hypercholesterolaemia . Cochrane Database Syst Rev. (2009)
  24. Brown JE, Rice-Evans CA Luteolin-rich artichoke extract protects low density lipoprotein from oxidation in vitro . Free Radic Res. (1998)
  25. Zapolska-Downar D, et al Protective properties of artichoke (Cynara scolymus) against oxidative stress induced in cultured endothelial cells and monocytes . Life Sci. (2002)
  26. Fantini N, et al Evidence of glycemia-lowering effect by a Cynara scolymus L. extract in normal and obese rats . Phytother Res. (2011)
  27. Boiled wild artichoke reduces postprandial glycemic and insulinemic responses in normal subjects but has no effect on metabolic syndrome patients
  28. New high-performance gel permeation chromatographic system for the determination of low-molecular-weight amyloses
  29. Transgenic potato (Solanum tuberosum) tubers synthesize the full spectrum of inulin molecules naturally occurring in globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) roots
  30. Mileo AM, et al Artichoke polyphenols induce apoptosis and decrease the invasive potential of the human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB231 . J Cell Physiol. (2012)
  31. Menghini L, et al Antiproliferative, protective and antioxidant effects of artichoke, dandelion, turmeric and rosemary extracts and their formulation . Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. (2010)
  32. Yu MC, et al Luteolin, a non-selective competitive inhibitor of phosphodiesterases 1-5, displaced {3H}-rolipram from high-affinity rolipram binding sites and reversed xylazine/ketamine-induced anesthesia . Eur J Pharmacol. (2010)
  33. Ko WC, et al Inhibitory effects of flavonoids on phosphodiesterase isozymes from guinea pig and their structure-activity relationships . Biochem Pharmacol. (2004)
  34. Nogueira AC, Dicelio LE, Joekes I About photo-damage of human hair . Photochem Photobiol Sci. (2006)
  35. Photochemical alterations in human hair. I. Artificial irradiation and investigations of hair proteins
  36. Photochemical alterations in human hair. Part III: Investigations of internal lipids
  37. Photochemical alterations in human hair. Part II: Analysis of melanin
  38. Fernández E, et al Efficacy of antioxidants in human hair . J Photochem Photobiol B. (2012)
  39. Anderson D, et al The effect of various antioxidants and other modifying agents on oxygen-radical-generated DNA damage in human lymphocytes in the COMET assay . Mutat Res. (1994)
  40. Fairbairn DW, Olive PL, O'Neill KL The comet assay: a comprehensive review . Mutat Res. (1995)
  41. Jacociunas LV, et al Artichoke induces genetic toxicity and decreases ethyl methanesulfonate-related DNA damage in chinese hamster ovary cells . J Med Food. (2012)