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Detoxification: the protective effects of artichokes

Artichokes Many people like artichokes for their unusual taste but did you know that these vegetables also offer a number of health benefits? An excellent source of fibre, potassium and vitamin B9, the artichoke also contains several antioxidants; indeed, its natural antioxidant potency has been the subject of numerous scientific studies over the last few years. With this exceptional composition, artichokes offer many benefits for human health, particularly related to the liver and digestive system. Here we focus on the vegetable’s liver-protective effects, with a review of some promising new Iranian research on artichoke’s ability to protect the liver from lead poisoning1.

Artichoke’s antioxidant strength against lead toxicity

This team of Iranian scientists wanted to establish whether lead’s harmful effects could be inhibited by artichoke’s natural antioxidant power. Lead is one of the most dangerous environmental toxicants, with numerous studies confirming its toxicity for the body. Once absorbed, this heavy metal can quickly build up in organs such as the liver and kidneys. Lead poisoning can lead to complications including physiological, neurological and reproductive dysfunction, as well as behavioural problems, primarily as a result of lead-induced oxidative stress. This Iranian research suggests that oxidative stress, recognised as one of the most harmful mechanisms for the human body, could be inhibited by the antioxidant compounds in artichoke.

Nutritional supplement studied for its potential in combatting lead poisoning

To evaluate the plant’s therapeutic potential, this research team used a nutritional supplement called simply ‘Artichoke’, formulated from an extract of the artichoke species Cynara scolymus. This natural extract was chosen for its high antioxidant content and for the numerous studies already published on it, with recent research concluding that it has anti-toxic activity. Expanding on these findings, this Iranian study tested the supplement on 32 rats, dividing them into four groups. The first group was fed a standard, lead-free diet, with the remaining three all fed a diet containing lead. Of these three groups, two were also given either the Artichoke supplement, or a vitamin C supplement. In order to test the efficacy of this supplementation, the researchers monitored a range of parameters including lead concentrations in serum, the lipoprotein profile and concentrations of various molecules such as alanine transaminase ALT), aspartate transaminase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and malondialdehyde (MDA). Measuring these markers enabled any physiological dysfunction to be identified.

Promising results from supplementation with Artichoke

At the end of their study, the researchers observed positive results in the Artichoke-supplemented group. Not only had these rats’ serum lead levels decreased, but their physiological profile had improved. They had an enhanced lipid profile with lower levels of total triglycerides and VLDL, molecules which gradually become converted into bad cholesterol. These positive findings support those of another study, which had identified artichoke extract as having an anti-cholesterol effect. Supplementing with Artichoke was also found to have lowered levels of ALT, AST, ALP and MDA, suggesting an improvement in several biological functions, primarily liver-related. This new study confirms the therapeutic potential of artichokes. According to the researchers, artichokes’ antioxidant potency may be of particular benefit to the liver, providing protection against lead poisoning. Formulated from an artichoke extract, the supplement Artichoke was also shown to be beneficial. Evaluation of its efficacy highlighted anti-toxic activity, as well as liver-protective and anti-cholesterol effects. The benefits of this extract can be found in the formulation offered by Supersmart: Double Artichoke. This supplement combines two artichoke extracts containing a number of active principles with antioxidant and liver-protective properties.

> Source :
1. Esfandiar Heidarian & Mahmoud Rafieian-Kopaei, Protective effect of artichoke (Cynara scolymus) leaf extract against lead toxicity in rat, Pharmaceutical Biology, Volume 51, 2013, Issue 9, Pages 1104-1109.
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