Artichoke Herbal Remedies for High Cholesterol
Artichoke leaf products are produced from the fresh or dried leaves of Cynara scolymus, the globe artichoke that is widely eaten as a vegetable. Artichoke herbal remedies are often recommended by herbalists to help normalize high cholesterol, which has a close association with heart disease and stroke. Artichoke has long been recommended by herbalists as a liver cleansing herb and a “bitter tonic” to help increase the production of digestive enzymes by the liver, including bile that helps specifically with fat digestion. Artichoke is known to have digestion-strengthening, anti-nauseant, liver-protectant, and antioxidant properties.
How to take Artichoke Leaf to Help Normalize High Cholesterol
The following are specific recommendations for using Artichoke Leaf as an herbal remedy for high cholesterol:
Fresh vs. Packaged Artichoke Leaf
Acquiring fresh or recently-dried artichoke leaves and processing them into tinctures yourself can yield the best herbal remedy. If you are not able to obtain artichoke leaves, or don’t have time to make your own, several quality commercial products are available. A number of companies sell juices and liquid extracts from the fresh or freshly-dried leaves. These are quickly absorbed and fast-acting. Standardized extract powders in capsules or tablets are also available and have the advantage of no taste, unlike the somewhat bitter liquid forms. Swallowing pills frequently is a downside for some individuals.
Typical Dosage of Artichoke Leaf for High Cholesterol
For adults, a typical dose of artichoke is 1 tsp of a “bitters” digestive formula containing artichoke leaf juice, or 2-3 droppersful of a tincture in a little water or juice. Several brands feature artichoke leaf among their products, and these are often available at most health food stores.
For capsules or tablets containing 300 mg of an artichoke leaf extract standardized to 5% caffeoylquinic acid, take 2 capsules twice daily with meals, or up to 3 capsules twice daily for a stronger effect (Englisch, 2000). Take 2 or 3 droppersful of a liquid tincture before meals, and 1 tsp of a juice product, such as Floradix bitters.
How Often to Take Artichoke Leaf for High Cholesterol
Take artichoke leaf two times per day before mealtimes to enhance digestion and help balance cholesterol, up to 3 times a day.
How Much Artichoke Leaf to Buy at a Time
In order to test the effectiveness of artichoke leaf products, you should consider consuming the product for at least three weeks. Taking 600 mg, twice daily would require approximately 4 capsules a day, or 28 per week. Many commercial products contain 60 capsules or tablets, or 90 per bottle. Buy one 60-count bottle for a two-week supply. One bottle of a juice product should also last about two weeks at ½ to 1 tsp of a juice product (bitters) before meals. A one-ounce dropper bottle of artichoke tincture should last about 10 days at 1-3 droppersful before meals.
Where to Buy Artichoke Leaf Supplements
Artichoke leaf supplements can usually be purchased from health food stores, or from your pharmacy’s natural products section.
How to Prepare Artichoke Leaf
Artichoke leaves can be dried and stored in paper bags or glass jars for use up to a year if kept in a cool, dry, dark place like a pantry. Fresh or dried leaves can be blended up thoroughly with a liquid solvent (called a menstruum) consisting of 80% ethyl alcohol and 20% distilled or filtered water on fresh leaf, or 60% alcohol and 40% water on dry leaves. The pulpy liquid is then transferred to a quart canning jar or other suitable jar to soak (called maceration). After the herb pulp has completely settled, about ½ inch of pure liquid should be over the herb pulp to help prevent fermentation. For the best extraction to occur, it is best to shake the jar at least once daily for about a week to 10 days. Squeeze the liquid as completely as possible from the herb pulp and compost the spent herb, called the marc. The liquid can then be filtered through an unbleached coffee filter, if desired. [This method is the Standard Tincture Method].
This will yield an excellent tincture of artichoke leaf that will retain most of its potency in a cool, dark place for up to two years. The liquid can be carried in a one ounce amber dropper bottle for convenience, available on the web from sites like Mountain Rose Herbs.
Simple leaf powders made from dry leaves often contain too many hairs to enable enough of the herb to be packed into capsules, and this method is not recommended.
Dried teas can be made, and these are highly concentrated and avoid the use of alcohol, or the necessity to consume it daily, as is the case with tinctures.
Things to know when taking Artichoke Leaf for High Cholesterol
The following is additional information regarding the safe use of Artichoke Leaf:
The safety rating of artichoke leaf is likely to be very high because of its long use as a common vegetable. Clinical trials involving over 600 patients showed good tolerability and few, if any, side effects (Cochrane, 2002).
Good herbal combinations with Artichoke Leaf
Artichoke combines well with other bitter digestive herbs such as gentian, yellow dock, burdock, and some flavoring herbs like stevia, orange peel, cardamon, fennel, and caraway seed.