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Artichoke Leaf for IBS and Indigestion

June 12, 2009 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

The trouble I have with most medications is that their primary purpose is not to promote healing, but rather to mask troublesome symptoms. They generally don’t address the cause of the problem and, frequently, they result in unintended adverse effects. But, to be fair, sometimes even the finest holistic physicians simply cannot pinpoint the root cause of an illness. In those instances, alternative health practitioners often resort to the use of natural medicines. This is often a more attractive option because alternative remedies are generally safer and sometimes provide considerable “side benefits”.

Dyspepsia is essentially a medical term for “indigestion”. It’s a very common condition that includes symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, inappropriate fullness at meals and nausea. Most of these discomforts occur during or shortly after eating. The degree by which someone suffers from dyspepsic symptoms varies widely. For some, it’s only an occasional annoyance. In others, it’s the more severe incarnation of a condition known as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

Artichoke leaf extract (ALE) may offer a viable alternative to conventional medications for those with dyspepsia and IBS. The evidence is clearly documented in the scientific literature of the past few decades. In addition, it appears that ALE frequently provokes other positive effects while improving digestive function, namely improved cholesterol levels and liver protection.

ALE and Digestive Ills

  • 208 patients with IBS used an artichoke leaf extract for a 2 month period. At the beginning and end of the study, a group of English scientists reviewed questionnaires filled out by the IBS participants and administered a test called the Nepean Dyspepsia Index (NDI). Based on the collective results, they determined that there was a 26% reduction in self-reported IBS symptom incidence. There was a 41% decrease in the volunteers’ NDI scores. A 20% improvement in quality of life measures was also noted. A separate study found that patients assessed ALE’s benefits as being “very good” and the vast majority (96%) believed ALE to be equal to or better than any other treatment they had previously tried. (1,2)
  • A trial conducted at the University of Essen in Germany investigated the effects of ALE on “functional dyspepsia”. In this experiment, 247 volunteers were treated with either ALE or a placebo over the course of 6 weeks. The dosage used was a 320 mg tablet taken twice daily. All of the patients self-reported their level of dyspepsic symptoms on a weekly basis and also took the NDI test prior to and post trial. The authors of the study concluded that, “the ALE preparation was significantly better than placebo in alleviating symptoms and improving the disease-specific quality of life in patients with functional dyspepsia”. (3) Another ALE study, published in the journal Phytomedicine, included 516 patients with dyspepsia and reported a 40% reduction in “global dyspepsia score” (4)
  • Two recent studies offer possible explanations for how ALE helps to improve digestion and reduce intestinal discomfort. The first trial noted an antispasmodic effect in a study conducted in guinea pigs. Antispasmodics help to prevent muscle spasms. (5) A second animal study reported increased bile flow in rats receiving ALE. This is significant because bile plays an important role in the digestion of dietary fats. (6)

ALE and Cholesterol

A study published in September 2008 found that ALE reduced cholesterol levels in a group of 75 participants with mild to moderately high cholesterol. The dosage used in this study was double the normal dose, 1,280 mg. A modest reduction in total cholesterol was found (4.2%). The authors speculate that the reduction might have been greater in those with higher cholesterol readings. (7) This theory is supported by at least two previous studies that observed a more significant cholesterol lowering effect (up to 23%) in those drinking juice made of artichoke leaves or taking ALE tablets. An improvement in endothelial function was also noted in the artichoke juice experiment. (8,9) In addition, several laboratory experiments offer mechanisms by which ALE could potentially lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in a safer manner than conventionally prescribed medications. (10,11,12,13)

IBS Prevalence by Country

Source: Business Insights – 2001

It’s also reassuring to know that ALE consistently demonstrates protection against hepatotoxicity (liver damage) in various laboratory experiments. One of the greatest concerns about cholesterol lowering medications is the possibility of severe liver complications. It appears that a broad spectrum of antioxidants may be responsible for ALE’s ability to shield the liver. When scientists attempted to isolate individual components of ALE to see if they would similarly protect liver health, they failed to successfully do so. In this instance and in many others, the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. (14,15,16)

Artichoke leaf extract isn’t one of the most popular supplements on the market. That’s part of the reason why I wanted to share this information today. Digestive dysfunction is very prevalent today, and I’m all for attempting to address its root cause. But if you’re unable to find a reason for it, perhaps you should consider ALE before resorting to the battery of over-the-counter and prescriptive medications on the market.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!


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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Heart Health, Nutritional Supplements

18 Comments & Updates to “Artichoke Leaf for IBS and Indigestion”

  1. CJ Says:

    How refreshing it is to actually be able to read an ACTUAL article about herbal and natural healing! So many sites recently are putting together garbled junk – but you offer research and great information.

    Thanks for your work, your insight, and your time!

    from a fellow herbal blogger

  2. JP Says:

    Thanks, CJ!

    I appreciate your kind words!

    Best of luck with your blogging!

    Be well!


  3. Jimmy jackson Says:

    Ya i agree, artichoke is very useful. It is rich in iodine. It reduces cholesterol and improves blood circulation, it is also helpful for diabetic people. It has many more uses and benefits.

  4. Janet Mjos Says:

    After over 20 years of suffering with autoimmune problems and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, I was finally diagnosed with Celiac disease a couple of years ago. The long-term damage to my system was so pronounced that I have also developed allergies to casein and nuts. Needless to say, I’ve been desperate to find something that will help me “normalize” my system (to the greatest extent it can be), and cleanse it as well.

    The Dr Max Powers 15 Day Cleanse was EXACTLY what I was looking for. Excellent, effective, and allergen-free. Two-a-day along with an allergen-free diet and my IBS is a thing of the past. Best of all–no prescription medication needed now! The price is pretty great, too.

  5. JP Says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Janet!

    Great job on transforming your health for the better – naturally!

    Be well!


  6. karen Says:

    If it would be of any help : I have been suffering from IBS for 15 years .about 10 bowel just in the morning , i just couln’t go out my home until noon !!!! For loosing a couple of pounds i started with the artichoke extract . 2 Days later , i only went 2 times and been the same for a year now . My life changed thanks to the artichoke extract !

  7. JP Says:

    What excellent news, Karen! I’m so happy to hear it.

    Thank you for sharing your success story with everyone here. I’m sure it will be of help. 🙂

    Be well!


  8. JP Says:

    Update: The FODMAP diet and probiotic treatment are helpful for IBS patients …


    World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Nov 21;20(43):16215-26.

    Ehealth: low FODMAP diet vs Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG in irritable bowel syndrome.

    AIM: To investigate the effects of a low fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols diet (LFD) and the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

    METHODS: Randomised, unblinded controlled trial on the effect of 6-wk treatment with LFD, LGG or a normal Danish/Western diet (ND) in patients with IBS fulfilling Rome III diagnostic criteria, recruited between November 2009 and April 2013. Patients were required to complete on a weekly basis the IBS severity score system (IBS-SSS) and IBS quality of life (IBS-QOL) questionnaires in a specially developed IBS web self-monitoring application. We investigated whether LFD or LGG could reduce IBS-SSS and improve QOL in IBS patients.

    RESULTS: One hundred twenty-three patients (median age 37 years, range: 18-74 years), 90 (73%) females were randomised: 42 to LFD, 41 to LGG and 40 to ND. A significant reduction in mean ± SD of IBS-SSS from baseline to week 6 between LFD vs LGG vs ND was revealed: 133 ± 122 vs 68 ± 107, 133 ± 122 vs 34 ± 95, P < 0.01. Adjusted changes of IBS-SSS for baseline covariates showed statistically significant reduction of IBS-SSS in LFD group compared to ND (IBS-SSS score 75; 95%CI: 24-126, P < 0.01), but not in LGG compared to ND (IBS-SSS score 32; 95%CI: 18-80, P = 0.20). IBS-QOL was not altered significantly in any of the three groups: mean ± SD in LFD 8 ± 18 vs LGG 7 ± 17, LFD 8 ± 18 vs ND 0.1 ± 15, P = 0.13. CONCLUSION: Both LFD and LGG are efficatious in patients with IBS. Be well! JP

  9. JP Says:

    Updated 1/18/16:


    Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015 Dec 31.

    Efficacy of a Gluten-free Diet in Subjects With Irritable Bowel Syndrome-Diarrhea Unaware of Their HLA-DQ2/8 Genotype.

    BACKGROUND & AIMS: A gluten-containing diet alters bowel barrier function in patients with irritable bowel syndrome-diarrhea (IBS-D), particularly those who are positive for human leukocyte antigen (HLA) allele DQ2/8. We studied the effects of a gluten-free diet (GFD) in patients with IBS-D who have not previously considered the effects of gluten in their diet and were unaware of their HLA-DQ2/8 genotype.

    METHODS: We performed a prospective study of 41 patients with IBS-D (20 HLA-DQ2/8-positive and 21 HLA-DQ2/8-negative) at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, United Kingdom, from September 2012 through July 2015. All subjects were placed on a 6 week GFD following evaluation by a dietician. Subjects completed validated questionnaires at baseline and week 6 of the GFD. The primary endpoint was mean change in IBS symptom severity score (IBS-SSS); a 50 point reduction was considered to indicate a clinical response. Secondary endpoints were changes in hospital anxiety and depression score, fatigue impact score, and short form 36 results. Clinical responders who chose to continue a GFD after the study period were evaluated on average 18 months later to assess diet durability, symptom scores, and anthropometric and biochemical status.

    RESULTS: A 6 week GFD reduced IBS-SSS by ≥50 points in 29 patients overall (71%). The mean total IBS-SSS decreased from 286 before the diet to 131 points after 6 weeks on the diet (P<.001)-the reduction was similar in each HLA-DQ group. However, HLA-DQ2/8-negative subjects had a greater reduction in abdominal distension (P=.04). Both groups had marked mean improvements in hospital anxiety and depression scores, fatigue impact score, and short form 36 results, although HLA-DQ2/8-positive subjects had a greater reduction in depression score and increase in vitality score than HLA-DQ2/8-negative subjects (P=.02 and P=.03, respectively). Twenty-one of the 29 subjects with a clinical response (72%) planned to continue the GFD long term; 18 months after the study they were still on a GFD, with maintained symptom reductions, and demonstrated similar anthropometric and biochemical features compared to baseline. CONCLUSION: A dietitian-led GFD provided sustained benefit to patients with IBS-D. The symptoms that improved differed in magnitude according to HLA-DQ status. Be well! JP

  10. Tamara Says:

    I have ibs-d and I am hoping that the artichoke extract will help.

  11. JP Says:

    Hi Tamara,

    I hope so too. Please look over the updates posted in the comments section. There are many natural options that may improve IBS listed there. Also, more can be found using the search feature on our site.

    Be well!


  12. JP Says:

    Updated 06/06/16:


    Complement Ther Med. 2016 Jun;26:171-7.

    Efficacy and safety of Ayurvedic herbs in diarrhoea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome: A randomised controlled crossover trial.

    OBJECTIVE: Herbal medicines have been used widely for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients. The aim of this study is to investigate efficacy and safety of an Ayurvedic herbal compound preparation made from: Murraya koenigii (curry), Punica granatum (pomegranate) and Curcuma longa (turmeric), compared to a placebo in patients with diarrhoea predominant IBS.

    MATERIAL AND METHODS: This trial was conducted as a randomised placebo-controlled crossover trial with randomised sequence of verum and placebo for each patient. Verum and placebo were provided as ground powders and delivered in sealed containers. Patients and outcome assessors were blinded. Patients were advised to ingest the decoction twice daily for 4 weeks. The primary outcome measure was IBS symptom intensity; secondary outcomes included: quality of life, anxiety and depression, compliance and safety.

    RESULTS: 32 IBS patients were included in the trial (19 females, mean age 50.3±11.9years). Eleven people dropped out during the trial resulting in 37 complete verum and 35 complete placebo phases. No group differences were found between verum and placebo for IBS symptom intensity (difference 24.10; 95% CI: -17.12; 65.32, p=0.26). The same was true for secondary outcomes. Compliance was satisfactory to good and the preparation appeared to be safe, but one third of the patients registered at least one minor adverse event that might be related to the study interventions.

    CONCLUSION: An Ayurvedic herbal preparation made from Murraya koenigii, Punica granatum and Curcuma longa appeared to be no more effective in improving diarrhoea predominant irritable bowel symptoms than placebo.

    Be well!


  13. JP Says:

    Updated 06/14/16:


    Int J Hepatol. 2016;2016:4030476.

    The Effect of Artichoke Leaf Extract on Alanine Aminotransferase and Aspartate Aminotransferase in the Patients with Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis.

    Background. Based on recent basic and clinical investigations, the extract of artichoke (Cynara scolymus) leaf has been revealed to be used for hepatoprotective and cholesterol reducing purposes. We aimed to assess the therapeutic effects of artichoke on biochemical and liver biomarkers in patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Methods. In a randomized double blind clinical trial, 60 consecutive patients suffering NASH were randomly assigned to receive Cynara scolymus extract (as 6 tablets per day consisting of 2700 mg extract of the herb) as the intervention group or placebo as the control group for two months. Results. Comparing changes in study markers following interventions showed improvement in liver enzymes. The levels of triglycerides and cholesterol were significantly reduced in the group treated with Cynara scolymus when compared to placebo group. To compare the role of Cynara scolymus use with placebo in changes in study parameters, multivariate linear regression models were employed indicating higher improvement in liver enzymes and also lipid profile particularly triglycerides and total cholesterol following administration of Cynara scolymus in comparison with placebo use. Conclusion. This study sheds light on the potential hepatoprotective activity and hypolipidemic effect of Cynara scolymus in management of NASH.

    Be well!


  14. JP Says:

    Updated 06/26/16:


    J Gastrointestin Liver Dis. 2016 Jun;25(2):151-7.

    Curcumin and Fennel Essential Oil Improve Symptoms and Quality of Life in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

    BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) patients still require effective treatment. The anti-inflammatory property of curcumin and the antispasmodic and carminative effect of fennel suggests that combination of these nutraceutical compounds would be useful in functional bowel disorders including IBS. We assessed the efficacy and tolerability of a combination of curcumin and fennel essential oil (CU-FEO) in IBS symptoms relief.

    METHODS: 121 patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms of IBS defined by an Irritable Bowel Syndrome- symptom severity score (IBS-SSS) 100-300 and abdominal pain score 30-70 on a 100 mm Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), were randomly assigned to CU-FEO or placebo (2 capsules b.d. for 30 days). Primary endpoint was the mean decrease of IBS-SSS at the end of the treatment corrected for the mean baseline score (relative decrease). The impact of the treatment on quality of life was assessed through IBS-QoL questionnaire.

    RESULTS: CU-FEO was safe, well-tolerated and induced symptom relief in patients with IBS; a significant decrease in the mean relative IBS-SSS was observed after 30 days of treatment (50.05 +/- 28.85% vs 26.12 +/- 30.62%, P<0.001). This result matched the reduction of abdominal pain and all the other symptoms of IBS-SSS. The percentage of symptom-free patients was significantly higher in the CU-FEO than in the placebo group (25.9% vs. 6.8%, P = 0.005). All domains of IBS-QoL improved consistently.

    CONCLUSION: CU-FEO significantly improved symptoms and quality of life in IBS patients over 30 days.

    Be well!


  15. JP Says:

    Updated 06/27/16:


    J Clin Gastroenterol. 2016 Jun 15.

    A Mixture of 3 Bifidobacteria Decreases Abdominal Pain and Improves the Quality of Life in Children With Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Multicenter, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial.

    GOALS: We assessed the efficacy of a probiotic mixture of Bifidobacterium infantis M-63, breve M-16V, and longum BB536 in improving abdominal pain (AP) and quality of life (QoL) in children with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional dyspepsia (FD).

    BACKGROUND: AP-associated functional gastrointestinal disorders, particularly IBS and FD, are common in pediatrics, and no well-established treatment is currently available. Although probiotics have shown promising results in adults, data in children are heterogeneous.

    STUDY: Forty-eight children with IBS (median age, 11.2 y; range, 8 to 17.9 y) and 25 with FD (age, 11.6 y; range, 8 to 16.6 y) were randomized to receive either a mixture of 3 Bifidobacteria or a placebo for 6 weeks. After a 2-week “washout” period, each patient was switched to the other group and followed up for further 6 weeks. At baseline and follow-up, patients completed a symptom diary and a QoL questionnaire. AP resolution represented the primary outcome parameter.

    RESULTS: In IBS, but not in FD, Bifidobacteria determined a complete resolution of AP in a significantly higher proportion of children, when compared with placebo (P=0.006), and significantly improved AP frequency (P=0.02). The proportion of IBS children with an improvement in QoL was significantly higher after probiotics than after placebo (48% vs. 17%, P=0.001), but this finding was not confirmed in FD.

    CONCLUSIONS: In children with IBS a mixture of Bifidobacterium infantis M-63, breve M-16V, and longum BB536 is associated with improvement in AP and QoL. These findings were not confirmed in FD subjects.

    Be well!


  16. JP Says:

    Updated 07/22/16:


    J Clin Diagn Res. 2016 May;10(5):OC01-4.

    Comparison of Hypnotherapy and Standard Medical Treatment Alone on Quality of Life in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Randomized Control Trial.

    INTRODUCTION: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most prevalent gastroenterological disorders. IBS is characterized by abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, constipation, bloating and flatulence. Complementary therapy is a group of diverse therapeutic and health care systems products that are used in treatment of IBS. Hypnotherapy helps to alleviate the symptoms of a broad range of diseases and conditions. It can be used independently or along with other treatments.

    AIM: This study was conducted to compare therapeutic effect of hypnotherapy plus standard medical treatment and standard medical treatment alone on quality of life in patients with IBS.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: This study is a clinical trial investigating 60 patients who were enrolled according to Rome-III criteria. The sample size was determined per statistical advice, previous studies, and the formula of sample size calculation. The participants were randomly assigned to two groups of hypnotherapy plus standard medical treatment group (n: 30), and standard medical treatment group (30). The study consisted of three steps; prior to treatment, after treatment and six months after the last intervention (follow-up). The instruments of data gathering were a questionnaire of demographic characteristics and standard questionnaire of quality of life for IBS patients (Quality of Life IBS-34). The data were analysed by analysis of co-variance, Levene’s test and descriptive statistics in SPSS-18.

    RESULTS: There were significant differences between the two groups of study in post-treatment and follow-up stage with regards to quality of life (p<0.05).

    CONCLUSION: Psychological intervention, particularly hypno-therapy, alongside standard medical therapy could contribute to improving quality of life, pain and fatigue, and psychological disorder in IBS patients resistant to treatment. Also, therapeutic costs, hospital stay and days lost from work could be decreased and patients' efficiency could be increased.

    Be well!


  17. JP Says:

    Updated 08/22/16:


    Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:8948690.

    Cold Hypersensitivity in the Hands and Feet May Be Associated with Functional Dyspepsia: Results of a Multicenter Survey Study.

    Aim. To investigate whether dyspepsia symptoms differ depending on the presence or absence of cold hypersensitivity in the hands and feet (CHHF). Methods. In all, 6044 patients were recruited and provided with a questionnaire about CHHF and dyspepsia. Based on their responses, subjects were divided into a CHHF group (persons who noted cold sensations; n = 1209) and a non-CHHF group (persons who noted warm or intermediate sensations; n = 1744). The groups were compared in terms of their usual digestion status, using chi-square tests and logistic regression analyses to calculate the propensity score and odds ratios (ORs). We analyzed the participants’ responses to questions on dyspepsia symptoms. Results. After matching, chi-square tests indicated that the CHHF group had higher frequencies of the following symptoms: bad digestion, poor appetite, discomfort in the upper abdomen, motion sickness, epigastric burning, postprandial fullness, nausea, and bloating. Additionally, CHHF was associated with an increased OR for dyspepsia (bad digestion, vomiting, motion sickness, epigastric burning, postprandial fullness, nausea, epigastric pain, and bloating) compared with the non-CHHF group. Conclusion. This study confirmed that CHHF patients have elevated frequencies of most dyspepsia symptoms.

    Be well!


  18. JP Says:

    Updated 04/16/17:


    Clin Nutr. 2017 Mar 23.

    Antioxidant response to artichoke leaf extract supplementation in metabolic syndrome: A double-blind placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial.

    BACKGROUND: Oxidative stress is associated with most components and complications of Metabolic Syndrome (MetS). Artichoke Leaf Extract (ALE) has demonstrated anti-oxidant properties in both laboratory and animal studies.

    AIM: This study was designed to examine the effects of ALE on oxidative stress indices in patients with MetS.

    METHODS: In the current double-blind placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial, 80 patients with MetS were randomly allocated to either “ALE group” (received 1800 mg ALE as four tablets per day) or “Placebo group” (received placebo containing cornstarch, lactose and avicel as four tablets per day) for 12 weeks. Serum levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), total antioxidant capacity (TAC), oxidized-LDL (ox-LDL), red blood cell glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and superoxidase dismutase (SOD), as well as dietary intakes were assessed at baseline and at the end of the study.

    RESULTS: A total number of 68 patients completed the study (ALE group = 33; placebo group = 35). Dietary intakes of energy, macronutrients, and micronutrients were not significantly different between two groups throughout the trial, with the exception of zinc (p < 0.05). The concentration of ox-LDL decreased significantly in ALE group in comparison to the placebo group (-266.8 ± 615.9 vs -129.5 ± 591.2 ng/L; p < 0.05). However, no significant inter- and intra-group changes in MDA, SOD, GPx, and TAC concentrations were observed. CONCLUSION: ALE decreased serum ox-LDL level in patients with MetS, with no beneficial effects on other antioxidant indices. Be well! JP

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