It seems like there is a drug for everything these days, and many doctors are all too willing to send you on your way with a prescription for the latest chemicals Big Pharma is peddling that may or may not help you feel better but will almost certainly cause at least one side effect. It’s no wonder that more and more people are looking to nature to find treatments that are not only effective but also unlikely to cause more problems than they had before they started taking them. A new study has shown that the humble artichoke can be a valuable tool in fighting two specific problems.
In a Chinese study published by the journal Nutrition and Liver Disease, artichoke extract was shown to significantly prevent elevated levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides while reducing the inflammatory infiltration, degeneration and necrosis of hepatocytes in the liver, indicating a powerful effect against acute alcohol-induced liver injury. The researchers believe that the artichoke extract’s ability to reduce oxidative stress while suppressing inflammatory pathways is behind this remarkable result.
This supports the finding of an earlier study carried out by researchers from the University of Reading. In that study, artichoke leaf extract taken from globe artichokes was shown to reduce cholesterol in people who had moderately high levels but were otherwise healthy. After giving 75 people either 1,280 mg of artichoke leaf extract or a placebo daily for 12 weeks, they found a statistically significant drop in total plasma cholesterol in those taking the extract. This news was well-received because intervention before cholesterol levels get too high can decrease a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Many people are prescribed statins to bring their cholesterol down, but these drugs come with a host of dangerous side effects.
Globe artichokes have been used in European traditional medicine to enhance urinary tract and digestive health for many years, and studies have also shown they could be useful for irritable bowel syndrome and general indigestion.
Artichoke leaf extracts are rich in flavonoids, which have been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases. Flavonoids can also be found in foods like red wine, cocoa, tea, and olive oil. According to NaturalPedia, artichokes are a highly nutritional variety of thistle that are a rich source of folic acid, biotin, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins A, B complex, C and K.
It has very high antioxidant levels, particularly quercetin, gallic acid and rutin. This is responsible for its ability to promote apoptosis and prevent the cell proliferation that leads to cancer. In addition, its high vitamin K content can protect against neuronal degeneration, making the vegetable a great choice for preventing Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.
Safer choice than statins
While excessive artichoke leaf consumption has been linked to some cases of kidney failure, it generally represents a safer alternative to statins. One out of every five people in the U.S. between the ages of 40 and 75 is prescribed these drugs, which must usually be taken daily for the rest of their lives, and more than one in ten will experience side effects like nosebleeds, sore throat, headache, nausea and joint pain. They cause severe muscle pain in around 40 percent of those who take them, and one study found they raise a woman’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 50 percent.
Worst of all, a recent study found that taking a daily statin for five years after a heart attack did not improve people’s survival chances, prompting one researcher to accuse Big Pharma of pulling “the wool over our eyes.” In fact, that paper said that quitting statins could even save more lives and enhance the quality of life of those who give them up. Artichoke leaf extract, along with a healthy diet, could prove to be useful in helping people avoid needing dangerous statins and keeping their cholesterol under control.