Artichoke Leaf

Artichoke leaf has been used by folk healers in southern Europe and northern Africa the stimulate the production of bile. The herb is now most commonly used to improve cholesterol levels.  

Other Names

This herb is also called Cynara scolymus. 


This thistle plant grows to be 1 to 2 meters tall with long silvery green leaves. It grows purple flowers on the top of a large bulb.   


It is native to southern Europe and northern Africa in the Mediterranean areas.

Part Used

An extract or tincture from the leaves is most commonly used.

Medicinal Uses

This diuretic is used to promote liver function and healthy digestion. It stimulates the liver's production of bile helping it rid the body of toxins and excess hormones more effeciently. As such it helps reduce headaches and PMS symptoms. These days it is mainly used to lower cholesterol.

In 2008, researchers at the University of Reading found that artichoke leaf extract lowers cholesterol. They studied 75 volunteers against a placebo group. The volunteers taking the herbal supplement took 1280mg of the herb everyday for 12 weeks. The people taking the herbs showed a significant decrease in cholesterol levels at the end of the study.

It can also help relieve the symptoms of irratiable bowel syndrome.

It is rich in antioxidants, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A and C, and iron, and helps strengthen the blood vessels.

It's also used to treat:

coronary heart disease
acid reflux

You can buy this herb and many others at Mountain Rose Herbs.

Side Effects and Warnings

There are no known side effects for the use of this herb, but it is best to avoid it if you have gall stones. As usual you should talk to your doctor before starting any herbal treatment, especially if you are on prescription medication.

Its safety for pregnant and nursing women is unknown.

If you found this information useful, check out my complete listing of herbs at my Herb Index.

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