Artichoke is a plant commonly eaten throughout North America, Europe and the Mediterranean. Although it’s the heart that’s most often used in a dish, artichoke leaves contain many medicinal benefits.
Artichoke leaf contains cynarin, which has been found to boost bile production in the liver (1).
This improves detoxification processes in the body, helping it to clear out harmful toxins such as alcohol and other chemicals.
Artichoke leaf also contains the important flavonoid silymarin, also found in milk thistle. Silymarin is best known for its abilities in protecting the liver.
As a powerful source of cynarin, artichoke leaf is highly beneficial to the digestive system. Cynarin stimulates the production of bile, which is needed to break down fats and oils we eat.
The more efficiently our body breaks down fat, the better it is able to access fat-soluble vitamins present in these foods.
Artichoke leaf may also improve the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Studies have shown that adults who were supplemented with artichoke leaf extract for two months enjoyed 26.4 percent fewer digestive problems and also a decrease in their dyspepsia symptoms.
This is believed to be due to the improved digestive support of the cynarin.
One of the many therapeutic benefits of artichoke leaf is its high concentration of polyphenols. These have been shown to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels in patients with an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
One study involving such patients tracked their progress while receiving either placebo or a standardized artichoke leaf extract supplement. After 12 weeks, the patients taking the artichoke showed an impressive 4.2% reduction in their total cholesterol levels (2).
Another study carried out over 6 weeks investigated the benefits of artichoke leaf in patients who already had high cholesterol. After taking artichoke leaf four times a day, the patients were shown to have an 18.6% reduction in their total cholesterol levels.
One of the most surprising benefits of artichoke leaf is its ability to improve brain function. However, these effects appear to be best when it is taken alongside another supplement, particularly the herb forskolin.
It’s been found that the combination of artichoke leaf and forskolin provides impressive benefits to cognitive function, including higher generation of synapses (communication) between neurons, more efficient memory capacity, and improvements in the ability to retain and recall new information.
The secret to artichoke leaf’s “brain-boosting” powers are centered around its concentration of luteolin, a phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitor (PDE4) (3).
This enzyme works by naturally breaking down cAMP, a type of messenger system required for proper communication between cells. By inhibiting PDE4, cAMP activity increases, allowing your brain to perform more efficiently.
Taking artichoke leaf with forskolin also appears to induce long term potentiation, the process by which your brain uses to retain new information and create memories.