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Detoxification with Artichoke Leaf

Use of the globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus, Asteraceae) dates back to the fourth century BCE. Artichoke is native to the Mediterranean region as well as northern Africa and the Canary Islands. Although its use was relatively rare during the fourth century BCE, ancient Greeks and Romans thought highly of it as an edible delicacy and a powerful digestive aid. Over time, European herbalists prescribed artichoke leaf to stimulate bile flow, which promotes digestion. Bile acts as a detergent, transporting toxins from the liver to the intestines for elimination. It is also essential for the breakdown of fats and cholesterol and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. In present times, artichoke leaves and extracts have been used to flavor beverages. Chemicals found in artichoke, such as cynarin and chlorogenic acid, have been used as sweeteners.

Artichoke leaves and extracts have been used to relieve both heartburn and alcoholic hangover symptoms due to their ability to stimulate bile flow. Artichoke leaf has often been most touted to reduce cholesterol, but it has also been used to treat irritable bowel syndrome, kidney ailments, edema, anemia, arthritis, dyspepsia (a condition that can include stomachache, belching, nausea, gas, and bloating), and bladder infections. It has also been valued as a treatment for snakebites, for gallstone prevention, and as an agent to lower blood sugar. It is considered both a tonic and a stimulant. As well as lowering "bad" cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein), there is evidence that it may increase "good" (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol (See HC 111262-468). Artichoke leaf extract has also been shown to have antinausea and antiemetic effects. Both the standard American diet, laden with chemicals, unhealthy fats, and acid-producing foods, and environmental toxin exposure can overload the liver with toxins, thereby negatively affecting digestion. Symptoms such as headaches, constipation, and reduced energy levels can result, as well as an increased risk of elevated cholesterol levels. Because of its bile-producing and diuretic effects, artichoke leaf extract may be beneficial as part of a cleansing and detoxification regimen.

Lori Glenn,  Managing Editor