• Artichoke Extract As a Natural Treatment for Digestive Problems
  • Two very different vegetables are known as Artichokes, and each has specific health benefits. The Globe Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) is the flower bud of a large thistle, having spine-tipped leaves with edible bases and an edible heart. The Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), also called the Sunchoke, is the tuber of a type of sunflower and resembles a longer, thinner potato. Globe Artichokes have been cultivated since ancient times, with probable origins in the Maghreb region of North Africa. Jerusalem Artichokes are native to eastern North America and were domesticated and grown by Native Americans long before the arrival of any Europeans.

    Artichoke extract can be taken to support liver function and reduce cholesterol, and as a natural treatment for digestive problems such as upset stomach, nausea and mild diarrhea. Artichoke extract is generally very safe. Almost no side effects are associated with this herbal medicine, and most people don't experience any.

    Artichoke extract

    Liver and Gallbladder Effects

    Bile is a fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. It aids in the digestion of fats and removes toxins from the liver. Because artichoke extract appears to affect the liver by stimulating the flow of bile, people with liver disease should be cautious about taking this herb. Artichoke extract also may cause gallbladder contractions, so those with gallbladder disease or gallstones should only take this substance under medical supervision, the Swedish Medical Center says.

    Diuretic Effects

    Artichoke leaf has traditionally been used as a diuretic in European medicine. People cook and eat the leaves--but not the artichoke hearts--as a vegetable to stimulate the kidneys. Anyone taking artichoke leaf for a different purpose should be aware it may cause more frequent urination.

    Allergic Reaction

    People who are allergic to arnica, chrysanthemums, daisies, marigolds or ragweed may also be allergic to artichoke leaf extract, as these plants are related. Signs of an allergic reaction include a rash or hives, itching, swelling, wheezing or breathing trouble, and difficulty swallowing. An allergic reaction to artichoke leaf extract calls for immediate medical attention. It can lead to anaphylaxis, a shock reaction that can be life-threatening, as noted by the University of Maryland Medical Center.

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