Health Benefits

Artichoke leaf extract has been used to address gastrointestinal disorders and upset stomach in horses. It is purported to have benefits for the cardiovascular system, to lower serum (blood) cholesterol levels and to stimulate liver and kidney function. [4]

The German Commission E has approved the use of artichoke leaf for dyspepsia (stomach upset) and related symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, flatulence, and bloating. [7] It is sometimes recommended for Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome, but no studies have been conducted to evaluate this claim.

It may work because the leaves contain bitter substances that stimulate bile production and the release of digestive acids that aid in the digestion and absorption of fats. It may also increase the activity of the gastric mucosa, contributing to the protective functioning of the gut barrier wall.

The artichoke is also noted for having probiotic and prebiotic effects, helping to promote the growth of the hindgut microflora. It is a rich source of the soluble fibre inulin, which has a bifidogenic effect (increases the population of beneficial Bifidobacterium in the gastrointestinal tract). [4]

Artichoke has also been shown in human studies to reduce post-prandial (after a meal) spikes in blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. This may contribute to healthier metabolism and blood sugar regulation.

Artichoke flower heads are noted for having very high total antioxidant capacity compared to other vegetables, due to high levels of cynarine found in the pulp of the leaves and the stems. [10]

Traditional Indications

  • Abdominal pain
  • Belching
  • Biliary fistula
  • Bloating
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Constipation
  • Dyspepsia [2]
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Fat intolerance
  • Flatulence
  • Gout
  • Hyperlipidaemia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Itchy skin
  • Jaundice
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Nausea
  • Non-ulcer dyspepsia [2]
  • Vomiting

Mechanisms of Action

  • Antiemetic
  • Antioxidant [2]
  • Bitter tonic
  • Cardioprotective
  • Carminative
  • Cholagogue [2]
  • Cholesterol-lowering [2]
  • Depurative
  • Diuretic [2]
  • Hepatic trophorestorative
  • Hepatoprotective [2]
  • Hypoglycemic
  • Hypolipidemic
  • Nitric oxide booster
  • Prebiotic
  • Probiotic
  • Spasmolytic
  • Vasodilatory

Botanical Description

The globe artichoke is an edible variety of thistle cultivated as a vegetable. It is a perennial plant indigenous to the south of Europe. It was first cultivated in Ethiopia and has long been used in traditional medicine in France. [4][2]

Parts Used

The head is used for culinary purposes and the leaves and stems are used in medicinal preparations. [4]

Active Constituents

Primary active compounds include flavonoids (apigenin, luteolin, cynaroside/ luteolin-7-O-glycoside and scolymoside), phenolic acids (caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, cynarine) and sesquiterpene lactones. Globe artichokes are also a source of the prebiotic fibre inulin. [1]
  • 2% phenolic acids
    • 3-caffeoylquinic acid (chlorogenic acid)
    • 1,5-di-O-caffeoylquinic acid (cynarin)
    • caffeic acid
  • 4% bitter sesquiterpene lactones
    • 83% cynaropicrin
  • 11.0% flavonoids
    • glycosides
      • luteolin-7-b-rutinoside (scolymoside)
      • luteolin-7-b-D-glucoside
      • luteolin-4-b-D-glucoside
    • phytosterols (taraxasterol)
    • sugars
    • inulin
    • enzymes
    • volatile oil
      • sesquiterpenes
        • b-selinene
        • caryophyllene


Do not confuse with the Jerusalem artichoke. Despite their similar names, the two plants belong to different families and have different nutritional properties. Also do not confuse with wild artichoke, otherwise known as Milk Thistle.

Dosages & How to Use

No standardized dosage guidelines available. Some preparations sold online recommend a dosage of 2 tbsp – 50 mL liquid extract per day for a horse that weighs 500 kg. [9] Another online source recommends the following dose of dried leaves administered daily over a six-week period:
  • Warmbloods: 30–50 g
  • Thoroughbreds: 40 g
  • Ponies: 30 g [8]


  • Dried powder
  • Dried leaves
  • Liquid extract
  • Succus from fresh plant
Research in humans suggests that preparations should be standardized to 15% cholorogenic acid and 2-5% cynarin or a total of 1% caffeoyl acid derivatives. [4]


For liver health, may be combined with milk thistle, dandelion root, and hibiscus. For digestive health, may be combined with probiotics, yeast, digestive enzymes, lemon balm, marshmallow root extract, meadowsweet and slippery elm bark. [3]


Artichoke is well tolerated and has Generally Recognized As Safe status (GRAS) status from the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA). It is rated Likely Safe in amounts commonly found in foods according to the Natural Medicines Database. When used in medicinal amounts, extracts from the leaves are rated as Possibly Safe. [4]

Side Effects & Adverse Reactions

No known side effects in horses. In humans, adverse effects are typically mild and may include stomach upset or kidney problems. [4]

Pregnancy & Lactation

Safety not determined; no known restrictions for use in pregnant mares. One online source recommends that this supplement should not be given to nursing animals due to potential disruptions in milk production. [8]


LD50 in rats determined to be 265mg/kg. [4]

Interactions & Contraindications

No known food, drug or supplement interactions. This herb may exacerbate bile duct obstruction or gallstones by stimulating bile flow. It should not be used in subjects with an allergy to Asteraceae/Compositae family plants such as ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies and more. [4]

Research Summary

No research studies have been conducted on the use of this herb in horses. Findings are based on research in other animals and humans as well as anecdotal evidence.


  1. Ceccarelli N., Curadi M., Picciarelli P., Martelloni L., Sbrana C., Giovannetti M. "Globe artichoke as a functional food." Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism 2010 3:3 (197–201)
  2. Braun, L. & Cohen, M. (2010). Herbs & Natural Supplements: An evidence-based guide, 3rd ed. Sydney: Churchill Livingston.
  3. Bone, K. (2003). A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs: Herbal Formulations for the Individual Patient. St Louis, Missouri: Elsevier.
  4. Basch, E., Boon, H., A., Engebretson, J., Giese, N., Hawkins, E. B., Holmes, C., Smith, M., Ulbricht, C., Weissner, W., & Yoon, H. (2013). Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.). Natural Medicines Professional Monograph.
  5. Heinrich, M., Barnes, J., Gibbons, S., and Williamson, E. (2012). Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy (2nd ed.). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.
  6. Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Vermont: Healing Arts Press.
  7. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs - Artichoke leaf. American Botanical Council. (2019). Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  8. AGROBS. Artichoke leaf. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  9. Chia de Gracia. Artichoke Leaves 650 g. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  10. Artichoke. Wikipedia. Retrieved November 15, 2019.

About the Author:

Dr. Priska Darani has had a lifelong passion for understanding how diet regulates metabolism and contributes to health in both humans and animals. Priska grew up on a dairy farm in Eastern Ontario before attending the University of Guelph in 2005 to complete a B.Sc. in Animal Biology with a focus on nutrition. While at Guelph, she worked at the Arkell Poultry and Equine Research Station where she assisted with daily care of the horses. In 2012, she received an M.Sc. for OMAFRA-funded research on how altering the amino acid balance of lactating cow rations can affect milk production and composition. In 2016, she completed her Ph.D. degree focusing on nutritional regulation of insulin sensitivity and using mathematical models to predict metabolic responses. She is currently a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Toronto. Throughout her studies, Priska has maintained a strong connection to Animal Science, working with Trouw Nutrition on several modelling projects to better predict how feeding decisions affect farm animal outcomes.
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