What Is Artichoke Extract?

A Supplement Claimed to Lower Cholesterol

Artichoke leaf extract, made from artichokes found in grocery stores, is thought by some to offer numerous health benefits, including lowering cholesterol in the blood. Others contend that it can promote weight loss, treat acid reflux, prevent hangovers, or even "cleanse" the liver. The evidence supporting these claims is generally weak.

Artichoke leaf extracts are taken by mouth and mainly sold in capsule or gelcap forms. There are also concentrated liquid forms you can take with a dropper. Artichoke leaf extract is sometimes even infused into face creams for its anti-aging effects.

This article explores the various health claims about artichoke leaf extract, with a special focus on its use in treating high cholesterol. It also explains how the over-the-counter supplement is taken as well as the possible risks.

Artichoke in Baskets, Fresh Spring Vegetables at Farmer's Market
Funwithfood / Getty Images

Health Benefits

There are many health claims made about artichoke leaf extract, although the evidence remains lacking. With that said, there have been some promising results that require further investigation.

Here are just some of the findings published in medical research:

  • Anti-aging: A 2018 review published in the journal Molecule suggested that artichoke extract cream reduces inflammation and improves blood circulation in the skin and, by doing so, may help reduce sagging and roughness.
  • Fatty liver disease: A 2016 study in the International Journal of Hepatology concluded that 2,700 milligrams (mg) of artichoke extract taken daily reduced liver enzymes in 30 adults with advanced non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) compared to 30 adults given a placebo (sham drug).
  • High blood pressure: A 2021 review of studies in Complementary Therapies in Medicine concluded that, based on evidence from eight human trials, artichoke leaf extract may help lower blood pressure minimally (average of 2 to 3 mmHg) in people with hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Kidney disease: A 2016 study in the Pakistan Journal of Pharmacological Science reported that artichoke extract delivered by injection normalized kidney function in rats with drug-induced kidney disease. These same effects have yet to be demonstrated in humans.
  • Weight loss: A 2018 study published in the journal Nutrients reported that artichoke leaf extract reversed the symptoms of metabolic syndrome, including waist circumference and high blood sugar, in obese rats bed a high-fat diet. The same has yet to be shown in humans.

To date, there is not enough evidence to support the use of artichoke leaf extract in treating any of these health conditions.

Spotlight on Artichokes and High Cholesterol

It is not yet clear how effective artichokes are in lowering cholesterol. Studies thus far have been mixed.

With that said, some studies suggest that artichoke leaf extract works similarly to statin drugs commonly used to treat hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol). Statins work by blocking an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase that plays a role in cholesterol production.

Research Findings

A 2013 study reported that a daily 250-mg dose of artichoke leaf extract in 46 overweight adults reduced "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and increase "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol compared to 46 overweight adults given a placebo.

This suggests that artichoke leaf extract may play role in the management of mild hypercholesterolemia.

Artichokes also contain plant-based compounds called flavonoids that may help reduce the oxidation of LDL, a process that contributes to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart disease.

Possible Side Effects

Artichokes are safe when eaten as food. Studies suggest that artichoke supplements may also be safe when taken for up to 23 months.

Side effects, if any, tend to be mild and may include:

  • Gas or bloating
  • Belching
  • A metallic or "off" taste
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea

Artichoke supplements can cause a reaction in people who are allergic to marigolds, daisies, and other similar plants. The allergic reaction tends to be mild, causing mild upset stomach and loose stools.

Dosage and Preparation

There is no recommended dose for artichoke leaf extract in any form. The amounts used in research vary from 250 to 2,700 mg per day. As a general rule, never exceed the dosage listed on the product level.

A 2018 study in Current Drug Safety reported that an older adult on treatment for diabetes and high blood pressure took 1.5 liters (roughly six cups) of artichoke infusion and was hospitalized with extreme anemia and liver poisoning.

Supplement Safety

Due to the lack of safety research, artichoke leaf extract should not be used in children, people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or those with chronic medical conditions. If you decide to use it, speak with your healthcare provider so that you can be monitored for side effects.

What to Look For

You can find artichoke leaf extract online or in stores and pharmacies where other herbal extracts and nutritional supplements are sold.

Nutritional supplements are not heavily regulated in the United States, and the quality can vary from one brand to the next. To ensure purity, only buy supplements that have been voluntarily submitted for inspection by an independent certifying body like U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, or ConsumerLab.

Certification does not mean that a supplement works or is inherently safe. It only means that it contains the ingredients listed on the product label in the correct amounts and that no impurities have been found.


Claims that artichoke leaf extract can help lower cholesterol remain unproven. The evidence supporting similar claims is also weak, including the use of artichoke leaf extract for weight loss, high blood pressure, liver disease, or kidney disease.

With that said, artichoke leaf extract is generally considered safe with few side effects. If you decide to use the supplement, let your healthcare provider know and never exceed the dose on the product label.

A Word From Verywell

There is no solid evidence that artichoke leaf extract can treat any health condition. Even so, it probably won't do you any harm if you use it (as long as it is taken as prescribed).

However, don't use artichoke leaf extract to replace recommended medications or as a substitute for standard medical care. This is where the supplement can be harmful and place your good health at risk.

It's important to remember that just because a product is "natural" doesn't necessarily mean that it is safe or good.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does artichoke extract cleanse the liver?

    It depends on what you mean by "cleanse." If you mean can artichoke extract prevent liver injury if you drink excessively, then no, it cannot. Some studies suggest that it may reduce liver inflammation in adults with fatty liver disease, but there is no evidence that it can either reduce or reverse liver toxicity.

  • Can you eat raw artichoke?

    Yes. In fact, studies show that artichoke offers a blood pressure-lowering effect for those who eat it. This may be especially helpful for people with mild hypertension (high blood pressure).

12 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Sahebkar A, Pirro M, Banach M, Mikhailidis DP, Atkin SL, Cicero AFG. Lipid-lowering activity of artichoke extracts: a systematic review and meta-analysisCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2018;58(15):2549-2556. doi:10.1080/10408398.2017.1332572

  2. D'Antuono I, Carola A, Lena LM, et al. Artichoke polyphenols produce skin anti-age effects by improving endothelial cell integrity and functionality. Molecules. 2018 Nov;23(11):2729. doi:10.3390/molecules23112729

  3. Rangboo V, Noroozi M, Zavoshy R, Rezadoost SA, Mohanmmadpoorsi A. The effect of artichoke leaf extract on alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase in the patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Int J Hepatol. 2016;2016:4030476. doi:10.1155/2016/4030476

  4. Moradi M, Sohrabi G, Golbidi M, et al. Effects of artichoke on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Complement Ther Med. 2021;57:102668. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2021.102668

  5. Ah Khattab H, Am Wazzan M, Al-Ahdab MA. Nephroprotective potential of artichoke leaves extract against gentamicin in rats: antioxidant mechanisms. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2016 Sep;29(5 Suppl):1775-82.

  6. Kwon EY, Kim SY, Choi MS. Luteolin-enriched artichoke leaf extract alleviates the metabolic syndrome in mice with high-fat diet-induced obesity. Nutrients. 2018 Jul 27;10(8):979. doi:10.3390/nu10080979

  7. Rondanelli M, Giacosa A, Opizzi A, et al. Beneficial effects of artichoke leaf extract supplementation on increasing HDL-cholesterol in subjects with primary mild hypercholesterolaemia: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2013;64(1):7-15. doi:10.3109/09637486.2012.700920

  8. Bogavac-Stanojevic N, Steveljevic JK, Cerne D, et al. The role of artichoke leaf tincture (Cynara scolymus) in the suppression of DNA damage and atherosclerosis in rats fed an atherogenic diet. Pharm Biol. 2018;56(1):138–44. doi:10.1080/13880209.2018.1434549

  9. Denisow-Pietrzyk M, Pietrzyk L, Denisow B. Asteraceae species as potential environmental factors of allergy. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2019;26(7):6290–300. doi:10.1007/s11356-019-04146-w

  10. Campos MG, Machado J, Costa ML, Lino S, Correia F, Maltez. Case report: severe hematological, muscle and liver toxicity caused by drugs and artichoke infusion interaction in an elderly polymedicated patient. Curr Drug Saf. 2018;13(1):44-50. doi:10.2174/1574886312666170912163746

  11. Panahi Y, Kianpour P, Mohtashami R, et al. Efficacy of artichoke leaf extract in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trialPhytotherapy Research. 2018;32(7):1382-1387. doi:10.1002/ptr.6073

  12. Roghani-Dehkordi F, Kamkhah AF. Artichoke leaf juice contains antihypertensive effect in patients with mild hypertensionJ Diet Suppl. 2009;6(4):328-341. doi:10.3109/19390210903280207

By Jennifer Moll, PharmD
Jennifer Moll, MS, PharmD, is a pharmacist actively involved in educating patients about the importance of heart disease prevention.