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Increasingly, doctors and pharmacists are using herbal treatments that would have been familiar to someone from the pre-industrial era. These treatments are now in the mainstream, too. You may have heard that avocados are good for your brain and that the antioxidants in blueberries can help prevent cancer. However, did you know that the artichoke, long a favorite for party dips, has the potential to lower your cholesterol and aid your digestion?
Artichoke extract packs a lot of health benefits that science is only beginning to uncover.
Eating artichokes is, of course, excellent for your health. However, there’s much more to this vegetable than just its bulbous, leafy, edible part. This plant, whose scientific name is Cynara scolymus, has hidden virtues that would have amazed the ancient peoples who originally cultivated it.
Unlocking the Secrets of the Artichoke
These secrets are unlocked through the modern medium of artichoke extract. Made from the stem and leaves of the artichoke, this herbal supplement features a host of incredible health benefits with few side effects.
Artichokes contain dozens of nutrients, including phytochemicals, antioxidants, and critical trace minerals. However, the entire plant is full of powerful bioactive herbal medicines that can transform your life. The key is in the artichoke’s leaves and stem, where science has uncovered substances that can lower cholesterol, ease indigestion, and even amplify the power of the human mind. Multiple medical studies have shown that artichoke extract is safe and effective.
In this article, we’ll cover the definition and history of the artichoke, artichoke benefits and side effects, the nutritional properties of artichoke, and how artichoke extracts can lower your cholesterol, improve your cognition, and aid your digestion.
What is an Artichoke?
Artichoke is basically a cultivated thistle. From its origin in northern Africa, the artichoke was eventually cultivated by dedicated Arab gardeners in the Middle Ages, becoming less thorny and leafier as these early botanists selected only the most edible specimens. If you ever happen to find yourself in Ethiopia, you might want to look around for a prickly, thistle-like plant growing wild in fields. The ancestor of our modern artichoke is still growing wild in the habitat where it started.
Artichoke is part of a family of beneficial plants that includes the Jerusalem artichoke and the Chinese artichoke. That said, these two plants are completely different species from the artichoke we know as a green, leafy globe. The Jerusalem artichoke, also known as the earth apple, is part of the sunflower family. Chinese artichoke is a plant with a starchy, tasty root, interesting but not a true artichoke like the ones we’ll discuss in this article.
When we say artichoke here, we mean the big, round, green kind that you can eat, the plant that round thing came from, or the extract that concentrates the medicinal properties of this remarkable vegetable.
History of the Artichoke
The part of the artichoke that we humans eat is the unopened flower head of the globe artichoke, which was originally cultivated in northern Africa. In fact, it’s one of the oldest foods in the world, appearing in ancient Egyptian temples and illustrations. Artichoke has been eaten for thousands of years. It’s still extremely popular in the Mediterranean as a delicacy and as an herbal medicine.
Even before the artichoke was domesticated, it spread rapidly all over the Mediterranean. People quickly realized that it was both tasty and healthy and began eating it and making medicine out of it.
Medicinal use of artichoke in ancient history
The ancient Egyptians were the first to consider it a good fertility drug, and although this didn’t turn out to be true, it was key to spreading artichoke’s popularity.
Homer, the ancient Greek author of The Odyssey, mentioned artichoke in the 8th century BC, referencing it as a garden plant. Even Greek mythology addressed the artichoke, claiming that the first of these plants had been one of the god Zeus’s many lovers. In that story, she was transformed into a plant when she displeased her paramour.
The Greeks knew the artichoke was special, but they believed that it was particularly good for guaranteeing that babies were born male. Unsurprisingly, there’s little truth behind this ancient myth. Nevertheless, its popularity helped ensure the artichoke had a good start in the annals of cultivated food.
The Romans simply loved artichoke. This should come as no surprise: as we’ll explore later in this piece, artichoke can aid your digestion, and Romans were notorious for overeating at rich, lavish feasts that could stretch over ten courses.
Of course, the Romans also believed that artichoke was an aphrodisiac. Unfortunately, there’s as little modern medical evidence to support this as there is to support the theories that artichoke can cure a hangover or a snakebite. However, if a Roman man were wealthy enough to afford this delicacy at a feast, he might well have been able to woo a potential bride with this delicious, unusual food. Romans even developed ways of preserving artichoke leaves in honey and cumin, so they could enjoy them during the winter.
More accurate medical use in the Middle Ages
Throughout the Middle Ages, the artichoke was still known, incorrectly, as an aphrodisiac. However, as the understanding of medicine slowly progressed, artichoke became more famous for its ability to aid digestion. Traditional European healers of the Middle Ages also used artichoke leaves as a diuretic, which is a substance that stimulates the kidneys and causes the taker to urinate more than usual.
They also found that artichoke leaves stimulated the flow of bile. We’ll talk more about what bile is and why you need it later in this piece. For now, let’s appreciate, for just a moment, what those ancient doctors accomplished.
With no access to microscopes and often a hazy understanding of medicine, they accurately identified these effective uses for artichoke leaves. That’s where some of our modern understanding of the use of artichoke extract comes from. Studies done in laboratory conditions in modern labs have supported the Medieval idea that artichoke is good for your gut.
Artichoke Cultivation in the Modern World
Italy is still a foremost producer and consumer of artichoke. Spain and France are also major artichoke growers. However, the legacy of artichoke lives on in Italy to an unparalleled degree. The English word for this vegetable comes from the word articiocco, which derives from modern northern Italian dialect.
However, if you live in the U.S., you’ve probably never had an artichoke from any of these countries. All U.S. artichokes are grown in California, where artichoke culture has ballooned since its introduction in the early 1900s. Artichoke culture even captured Marilyn Monroe, who was crowned the California Artichoke Queen in 1949.
The Joy of Eating Artichokes
Eating an artichoke is a fun, interactive process. Once steamed, artichoke leaves can be pulled from the base and dipped in a variety of sauces. People only eat the fleshy part of each leaf, but the heart at the middle of the artichoke is probably its most popular part. People often serve the heart broiled or as a dipping sauce.
There’s a scientific reason that the artichoke is so delicious. It all has to do with the active ingredient in artichoke, which is also the secret key to many of its health-related benefits.
Artichokes contain a natural sweetener that’s completely unlike sugar in taste and behavior. When you eat an artichoke, you may notice that your first bite isn’t overwhelmingly sweet, like a piece of fruit or a chocolate bar might be. Instead, your next bite will be a bit sweeter than the last, transforming your meal from something ordinary to something subtle and exotic.
This is the flavor that captivated ancient peoples, who didn’t always have access to fresh fruit and certainly didn’t have chocolate bars. Today, we understand how this striking flavor profile happens: the chemical cynarine, named for the artichoke itself, is present in high levels in the artichoke’s leaves.
Cynarine is a fascinating chemical. As we’ve already discussed, it can be considered a sweetener with fascinating and unique culinary possibilities. However, as if that’s not sufficiently interesting, this sweet treat is also a bioactive substance - in other words, it has a medicinal effect on your body. Science has known about cynarine for a long time, and in fact, cynarine is used in some drugs. Silibinin, for example, is a medication that helps treat liver cirrhosis, a condition that characterized scarring in a patient’s liver, causing it to be less effective than it should be.
Cynarine is an important part of how Silibinin accomplishes its life-saving work. However, that’s not all it can do. Cynarine also has the remarkable ability to lower cholesterol levels. In fact, during the mid-20th century, before the development of high-powered anti-cholesterol drugs, it was used for this exact purpose.
As time went on and medical science progressed, studies examined artichoke extract and found that its incredible properties were provable through clinical experimentation. In one study of 143 people, cynarine delivered in dry artichoke extract decreased participants' cholesterol by over 18% in six weeks. 
We’ll talk more about how to get these amazing effects when we discuss how to best administer artichoke extract to yourself. First, though, we should talk about how most people derive health benefits from artichokes: through the nutrients that distinguish this vegetable.
The Nutritional Artichoke
When you consider an artichoke’s nutritional value, you might find it hard to think of a healthier food. Most people focus on the heart of the artichoke, but the leaves contain higher concentrations of nutrients. That’s why artichoke extract is made from the leaves rather than the heart. As a result, artichoke leaf extract is a fantastic food supplement, packed with nutrients on top of its many herbal properties.
Let’s look at the vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients that you can get out of your artichoke or artichoke extract.
Artichoke is one of the most antioxidant-rich vegetables in the world, but what does that mean for you? Well, let’s first think of your DNA at a molecular level.
You probably learned in school that DNA encodes everything about how your body builds and maintains itself. Sometimes, your DNA can randomly become damaged due to changes in the structure of its atoms. These damaged atoms become free radicals, which can cause a lot of harm to your body. Free radicals can happen naturally or because of environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke or poor diet.
Antioxidants step in to fix the molecular damage DNA can suffer. They also function on the molecular level. Their structure contains extra atomic building blocks, which they can give to free radicals to return them to a stable state and make your DNA as good as new.
Scientific evidence of antioxidant content
A 2003 study in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry reported that artichoke is an excellent source of antioxidants.  The study found that the leaves contained the highest concentrations and quantities of these helpful chemicals.
Some of these antioxidants, polyphenols, are particularly famous for their ability to protect and heal the human body. You might have heard of this class of chemicals referred to as phytochemicals, too. All that means is that they’re the result of a plant’s photosynthetic processes. They include flavonoids, a class of chemical that famously also occurs in red wine and decreases the risk of developing Type II Diabetes. 
Polyphenols are a powerful protection against heart disease. This is because they can lower levels of “bad” cholesterol dramatically. This is one of artichoke extract’s most sought-after effects. We’ll talk more about how artichoke extract can knock out your cholesterol later.
Like many other vegetables, artichokes are chocked full of dietary fiber, which is exactly what it sounds like: fibrous material. Unlike most of the other healthful material that you get from your food, fiber is not something your body digests and absorbs. It is, however, still important for digestion.
Fiber comes in three different varieties:
- Soluble fiber
- Insoluble fiber
- Resistant starch
Each type of fiber does a different thing, and globe artichoke contains primarily insoluble fibers.
As its name suggests, insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. This type of fiber comes primarily from vegetables, of which the artichoke is one, and the skins of fruits. In vegetables, this fiber is typically comprised of the hard, indigestible parts of the plant leaf.
In the gut, insoluble fiber absorbs water and acts as a bulking agent for your stool. This action helps to keep your bowel movements regular. This is one reason artichoke is often a good choice of vegetable to eat when you experience constipation.
Since insoluble fiber is bulky, it also makes you feel fuller after a meal. This is a desirable effect, especially if you are trying to lose weight.
Vitamins can be antioxidants too. One single artichoke is a veritable storehouse of essential vitamins.
One artichoke contains 10% of your daily vitamin C requirement. Everyone knows vitamin C as the stuff you take when you’re getting sick, but it’s so much more than just that.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, linked to immune system protection and smooth, wrinkle-free skin. However, if you decide to sit down and eat a steamed or boiled artichoke instead of taking artichoke extract, you’re missing out. Vitamin C is water-soluble, and if you boil your artichoke, you’ll remove that good stuff.
Artichoke extract doesn’t lose the nutrients in raw artichokes. Instead, it concentrates them. That’s part of what makes it such a great way to get your daily vitamins.
Artichokes also contain plenty of vitamin A, which is good for your eyes and skin. Vitamin A helps to maintain the health of your eyes, and it can prevent the following health issues:
- Night blindness
- Throat, chest, and abdominal infections
- Dry, bumpy skin due to follicular hyperkeratosis
- Fertility issues
- Delayed childhood growth
Vitamin A is also notable for protecting against some types of cancers. In particular, studies have shown effectiveness at preventing prostate cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer. 
Vitamin A also aids in the production of sebum, which is the oil in your skin that keeps it moisturized and healthy.
Vitamin B is present in artichokes, too, in both its B6 and B12 forms. In the medical industry, these B vitamins, which represent a family of chemicals, are often called folates.
The folates present in artichoke represent another enormous benefit of consuming artichoke extract, particularly if you’re a vegetarian. Folates are B vitamins that are critical for heart health.
If you don’t eat meat, and especially if you avoid all animal products in your diet, you might already be particularly conscious of your B-vitamin intake. That’s because the easiest source of folates in the average diet is meat. If you’re not eating meat, then you may have to consume enough B vitamins to keep yourself healthy.
Whether you want to cut down on meat or just reap the benefits of vitamins B6 and B12, artichoke extract could be the right nutritional supplement for you. It’ll deliver those vitamins naturally and healthily, concentrating the many gifts of the artichoke plant into one dose.
Vitamin K is an essential ingredient in prothrombin, which is a clotting factor that allows your body to seal up wounds. Having too little vitamin K is dangerous, because such a condition would cause your body to take a long time to close out wounds, causing you to hemorrhage uncontrollably.
Additionally, it plays a role in bone metabolism, and it also helps to regulate the amount of calcium in your blood, keeping it in a balanced state.
While most Americans are not at any risk of Vitamin-K deficiency, it is still helpful to have at least some in your diet. Thankfully, artichoke is an excellent source of vitamin K.
Artichoke provides even more nutrients on top of vitamins and phytochemicals. In addition to the antioxidants and vitamins you can get from this amazing foodstuff, artichoke is a rich source of minerals that can be hard to find in other parts of the plant kingdom. For example, artichoke contains plenty of copper and iron. These two elements are key components of healthy red blood cells, allowing them to grow, reproduce, and carry oxygen.
Additionally, without copper and iron, your body may struggle to maintain energy levels and strong bones. Copper may also help prevent cardiovascular disease. How ironic that the ancient Romans and Egyptians thought that artichoke could make people fall in love when this vegetable literally protects your heart.
Artichoke extract contains all these outstanding minerals, too, plus the zinc and magnesium that your body needs in trace quantities.
The artichoke is low-calorie. A head of artichoke contains roughly 29 calories, while a dose of artichoke extract contains much less than that.
Artichoke Nootropic benefits
Longtime readers already know about our incredible nootropic, CILTEP. You may also know that we derive the active ingredients in CILTEP from two sources: artichoke extract and forskolin. We’ll talk a little more about how CILTEP works and what it does for you a little later, but for now, it’s worthwhile to know that artichoke extract is a key component to increasing your intelligence, memory, and focus.
ER nurse Jayla Keene famously uses CILTEP to enhance her memory and keep herself sharp on stressful shifts. Combined with the herbal medicine forskolin, this supplement can maximize your brain’s efficiency and amplify the ability of your neurons to do their job and to do it well. Biohackers all over the world swear by artichoke extract, and especially CILTEP, in their quest to maximize the potential of the human body. Of all the things that artichoke extract can do, this may be the most exciting.
The Health Benefits of Artichoke Extract
The nutritional benefits of artichokes are clear and undeniable. But what do they mean? Why take artichoke extract rather than, say, eat an orange?
The answer lies in artichoke’s incredible, scientifically proven health benefits. While other supplements may make big claims, artichoke extract delivers. That's not just us saying that. The entire scientific community agrees, and they have been using artichoke extract to prevent heart disease and cure gastric distress for thousands of years.
Lots of plants contain antioxidants. Many even contain folates. However, artichoke is more than the sum of its parts. Not only does it nurture your body in the short term, but it also prevents some of the most serious preventable illnesses known to humankind.
Some cholesterol is necessary for your body’s health. High-density lipids, also known as “good” cholesterol, help your body create hormones and synthesize Vitamin D. Without it, you’d become quite sick. That’s not the kind of cholesterol your doctor worries about. The “bad” cholesterol is known as low-density lipids or LDLs.
These waxy, fatty molecules clump up in your blood vessels, impeding the flow of your blood. This buildup can get so bad that the blood vessel becomes completely blocked, leading to a stroke or a heart attack. This LDL buildup, also known as plaque, can also dislodge and be swept around your body by your blood, inevitably becoming stuck in a smaller vessel and causing potentially severe health problems.
Luckily, there’s a great way to lower your LDL levels: take artichoke extract. The primary way people lower their cholesterol is by altering their diet to include more plants. However, in all the plant kingdom, it’s hard to find another vegetable more capable of lowering cholesterol than artichoke. The chemicals present in its leaves, and therefore at higher densities in artichoke extract, are revolutionary anti-cholesterol medicines that occur naturally in the plant itself.
Pre-symptomatic cholesterol control using artichoke extract
Medical researchers have conducted several studies on artichoke extract, finding that it’s very effective at controlling cholesterol if the problem isn’t yet dire. For example, researchers at the University of Reading found in 2008 that artichoke extract could lower cholesterol in people who had moderate cholesterol issues. 
What this means is that you may want to start taking artichoke extract when a problem first appears. Your doctor might not be worried yet, and maybe you shouldn’t be, but why let a little problem become serious? Artichoke extract can control the nascent health issue and prevent you from developing one of those nasty plaques. It can also help you put off the day when you’ll need to resort to a more powerful anti-cholesterol drug, one that may come with more serious side effects.
That’s not to say that you could take artichoke extract and continue a three-burger-a-day diet. However, taking artichoke extract at the beginning of your journey back to health is a good start. As you develop that habit, you can later attach other healthy lifestyle choices that could benefit you further.
Things to remember when taking artichoke extract for cholesterol control
Despite this, remember to tell your doctor when you begin taking artichoke, especially if you’re doing so for high cholesterol levels. Not only might your medical professional have some sound advice, but they might be willing to help you monitor your progress and see that the artichoke extract is doing its job. Your doctor can also help understand how you can manage your health better going forward.
You’ll also need to be aware of any interactions that artichoke may have with other herbal remedies, supplements, or drugs that you need to take. While artichoke is known for having few interactions, there’s never a 0% chance of side effects.
People have known about artichoke’s ability to ease gastric distress for thousands of years. The Romans, habitual overeaters who stuffed themselves to the point of physical illness on holidays, were also experts in the art of making themselves feel better after a heavy meal. In their world, there were few better remedies than artichoke, even though they had not yet developed the potent, more effective extract we use today.
Whether the problem is bloating, flatulence, or nausea, artichoke extract can essentially eliminate the problem. The Romans knew that artichoke was good for digestion, but they may not have realized that the leaves contain the key active compounds that ease your stomach.
Later Medieval herbalists knew, though, and today, artichoke leaf tea is still used to calm upset digestive systems in Romania. That’s also why artichoke extract is synthesized from the greenest parts of the plant, not the tasty heart. When you take artichoke extract for digestive problems, expect better results than if you snarf down a can of artichoke hearts or enjoy a fatty spinach and artichoke dip.
Artichoke and ginger
The research about artichoke extract and stomach ache is very robust. One strong study concluded that people who took a combination of ginger and artichoke extract could reliably treat their functional dyspepsia with just this combination of natural substances.  That meant that the people who participated in this study experienced a significant reduction in their instances of bloating, gassiness, nausea, and that unpleasant feeling of being too full that you sometimes get after a meal that didn’t agree with you.
Not only does this mean that artichoke is a good way to deal with a sour stomach, especially when that condition is related to your digestion, but that artichoke plays well with another powerful herb: ginger.
Artichoke encourages bile production
The mechanism by which artichoke benefits the gut is an interesting one. Remember cynarin, the special, artichoke-specific chemical present in the leaves and stem of the artichoke plant? Not only does it lend a mysterious sweetness to your cuisine, but it makes your liver produce bile.
Bile is a greenish-yellow, alkaline fluid that helps your body digest fats and pulls nutrients out of your digesting food. Your liver creates this stuff and stores it in your gallbladder, which then pumps it into your small intestine. Bile helps your body break down the stubbornest food. Artichoke extract has proven extremely effective at causing the liver to create extra bile.
Interestingly, early herbalists also knew that artichoke leaves could help produce bile, although they had no way to test this idea. Today, luckily, we do.
One study looked at people with dyspepsia, also known as chronic indigestion. They were given artichoke extract for several weeks, allowing their bodies to adjust to its presence, and then tested. After they’d taken artichoke extract, their livers almost immediately started generating more bile. In half an hour, it was creating 127% more bile than it usually did. After another half hour, there was a 151% increase in bile production. 
One of the reasons that the researchers found for artichoke’s positive digestive effect is that extra bile is useful for people who naturally have trouble absorbing some fats. People with certain bile duct issues, also naturally occurring, may benefit from artichoke extract, too.
Additionally, one of bile’s many responsibilities in your body is to digest the fat-soluble vitamins that are so important to your health. These include vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant. That’s how lack of bile could conceivably contribute to a vitamin E deficiency in the long term. In the end, a little extra bile would do a lot of us at least a little good.
Artichoke soothes irritable bowel syndrome
There’s another group that might enjoy the effects of artichoke extract: people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. This often-painful condition is a large intestine problem that causes bloating, diarrhea, gas, and constipation. People who suffer from IBS generally do so for life, regulating their diets and stress levels in the hopes of staving off the inevitable attacks.
However, artichoke extract shows considerable promise in regulating and perhaps preventing IBS episodes. In a 2004 study from the Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine, researchers found that artichoke leaf extract caused a 26.4% fall in incidence of IBS flare-ups in study participants who suffered from this condition.  While that might not seem like a large number, consider it in context of a larger treatment regimen. If someone with IBS eats carefully and takes other herbs or medications to lessen the frequency of attacks, then artichoke extract can put them that much closer to a healthy, pain-free life.
Artichoke extract has a lot of amazing properties. Maybe that’s why it interacts so well with your body’s most amazing organ. Your liver is an incredible, multi-purpose organ whose list of bodily responsibilities is long.
The body’s great filter and waste treatment plant
Remember toxins, that harmful class of chemicals? Well, your liver takes care of those. It filters all the harmful chemicals it finds out of your blood, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It doesn’t store these chemicals, as some people think, but performs complicated chemical and biological processes to neutralize them and send them out of your body once and for all.
One good example of the liver at work is alcohol consumption. Your liver is what allows you to sober up after a few stiff drinks. Filtering alcohol out of your blood, and then sending its remnants to your kidneys, is the job of this remarkable organ.
Your liver also flushes out drugs and herbal supplements that you take either daily or for an illness. It’s good that it does this. Otherwise, those chemicals would build up in your body very quickly and make you quite sick. Moreover, your liver secretes bile.
Artichoke helps the liver
Clearly, the liver does a great deal of work. Sometimes, if it works too hard, it can develop scarring that causes it to work less effectively. That alcohol we talked about earlier can cause extensive scarring, or cirrhosis, on the liver, but usually only if that liver must deal with alcohol constantly.
Other conditions, such as hepatitis, can stress your liver and tax it until it struggles. Your liver is great at bouncing back from events like these, but sometimes it can use a little help. Artichoke extract, once again, proves to be a great way to support your hardworking liver.
Doctors now agree that artichoke extract not only protects the liver from damage but may actually help it regenerate after the damage has already been done. Another study, conducted in 2017 and published in the journal Nutrients, found that artichoke extract prevented liver damage even in mice who had been pumped full of alcohol.
Addiction and other chronic diseases are particularly hard on your liver. Once you set foot on the road to recovery, however, you can make it up to your hardest-working organ by maintaining a regular dosage of artichoke extract.
Artichoke Extract as a Nootropic
Before we delve into what is possibly the most exciting aspect of artichoke extract, we should discuss nootropics. As you may already know, we strongly promote the use of nootropics and believe that this class of supplements is truly a great way to improve your life and potential.
Our products aren’t just customer hits. They’re improving lives, and we have the feedback to prove it. Just ask Alex West, film director, and MMA enthusiast. After hearing CILTEP recommended by podcaster and comedian Joe Rogan, he became, and remains, an avid fan.
What are nootropics?
Nootropics are chemicals, drugs, herbs, or supplements that improve the functioning of the human brain. This includes memory, focus, attention, and cognition. Some of these substances are natural, and others are synthetic. There are positive points to both categories, and many nootropics fans take both in combination.
The term “nootropics” was coined in 1972 by Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea, a Romanian chemist who created one of the first drugs of this type. Nootropics fit certain criteria, which he set when he defined what a nootropic was. To be a nootropic, a substance must:
- Improve memory and learning,
- Help us be less distracted,
- Protect the brain from damage,
- Enhance wakefulness,
- And be non-toxic with little to no side effects.
If you want more information about nootropics, then you should check out our more detailed nootropics piece, which explains more about what these chemicals are and how to use them. For now, let’s talk about artichoke extract, which fits all Giurgea’s criteria.
Amazingly, mind enhancement is one of the foremost artichoke extract benefits and one of the best-kept secrets in the world of herbal supplements. In nootropic circles, you may hear artichoke extract referred to as luteolin. This is the name of one of the most active substances in artichoke extract, and the one which probably gives it its nootropic powers.
It’s an antioxidant and a flavonoid with some pretty unusual properties. It’s been a staple in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and modern research suggests that it has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties . Nootropics pioneers have discovered its incredible ability to enhance the mind, too.
There’s already strong evidence for luteolin’s neuroprotective properties, meaning that this substance can keep your brain healthy and running at its potential for a long time. 
Luteolin is also present in rosemary, dandelion, parsley, and broccoli, among several other vegetables. However, the artichoke is one of the best sources of this incredible chemical, and artichoke extract is hands-down the best way to get this powerful nootropic into your system.
In addition to aiding your digestion and lowering your cholesterol, artichoke extract and its luteolin regulate the production of a certain neuroinhibitor called PDE4. This is a naturally occurring chemical that your brain makes to break down a neurotransmitter called cAMP. 
The job of cAMP is to promote the communication of neurons, encouraging them to send and receive more messages. Since they do this via chemical signals, a balance of cAMP and PDE4 is vital to the signal relay that exists inside your head. However, there’s no question that PDE4 slows those neuron messages down. Its job is to decrease the activity of cAMP. With more PDE4, you think and react more slowly.
When PDE4 isn’t present between two neurons, these brain cells send each other messages with greater efficiency, speed, and effectiveness. The lack of PDE4 allows cAMP to take over and do more to make your neurons work harder. However, taking artichoke extracts is only half of the battle. Not only does PDE4 need to be checked to maximize your potential, but your brain needs to be told to make more cAMP as well. That’s where forskolin comes in.
Forskolin, also known as coleus, is the derivative of a plant that grows in India, Thailand, and Nepal. In fact, this plant is related to mint and has been used for thousands of years as an Ayurvedic remedy. On its own, forskolin is believed to promote weight loss and treat asthma. However, one of its most important effects is its ability to boost your brain’s production of cAMP. If you’re interested in forskolin, we have a more detailed piece about it here on Natural Stacks.
Artichoke extract and forskolin work together, natural nootropic partners in the revolutionary CILTEP stack. When combined this way, the two can boost your mental ability and performance substantially. This process has a name: Long Term Potentiation. This phenomenon does exactly what its name describes.
Over the long term, it increases your brain’s potential to learn, sharpens your mind, improves your memory, and ultimately leads to higher cognitive functioning. The structure of neurons makes this process possible. Now that science understands how the brain works, nootropics are seeing a burgeoning of popularity and potential.
An overview of brain activity
People have known that the brain is critical to thought for a long time. However, it’s only recently that we’ve understood exactly what must happen to improve your ability to think. Imagine your brain as a network of neurons, which are long, thin cells with bulging bulbs at each end. They line up end to end, making connections with each other as you think, talk, breathe, sleep, or eat.
Two neurons can talk to each other as part of a relay. One receives a chemical signal from another, then the neuron on its other end. This chemical signal acts like a battery, generating a tiny charge that shoots through your head like lightning. Everything you think, say, or do is precipitated and controlled by neuron activity.
More to the point, every memory you make is the result of your neurons at work, developing new connections and cementing them with practice, routine, and training.
Nootropics’ effects on brain activity
CILTEP works by enhancing the action of both neurons involved in a transmission, stimulating each of them and maximizing their potential. By reducing PDE4, artichoke extract reduces the barriers in this communication. By encouraging cAMP, forskolin improves your very ability to think. If the Romans had known about this aspect of artichoke’s potential, who knows what they might have accomplished.
That’s what artichoke extract does: it lets your brain do the work it was intended to perform. Biohacker Abelard Lindsay saw artichoke extract for all its tremendous potential, and so have thousands of our customers worldwide.
The fact that artichoke works so well with other herbs means that it’s an ideal teammate for forskolin.
The bottom line is this: artichoke extract is potent, convenient, and remarkably good for you. When taken in a nootropic stack, it can have remarkable effects on your memory and cognition, and you’ll only see these benefits from the extract. Remember, the artichoke head, though a delicious delicacy, doesn’t have all the special chemicals that exist in the leaves and stem. Eat the vegetable for the fiber and to get a tasty serving of green vegetables. If you want to see the health benefits, take artichoke extract. 
Artichoke Extract Dosage
Any medicinal substance, whether herbal or pharmaceutical, has a real and measurable effect on your body. Ideally, that effect will be all good. One of the reasons that artichoke extract is an ideal supplement is that it’s quite gentle on the human body compared with medications that do similar stuff. However, with any herb, supplement, or drug, it’s important to be aware of dosages.
A dosage is the amount of active substance your body needs to derive a real effect from your supplement. It’s also the ideal amount for avoiding side effects and overdoses. When you take an over-the-counter painkiller for a headache, you can generally find the dosage requirement listed on the outside of the bottle. When it comes to artichoke extract, there are a few rules for taking it safely and correctly.
Safe artichoke dosages
It’s possible to overdo anything. Really - it’s even possible to drink too much water, though you’d have to work very hard to accomplish that. It would also be very difficult to eat so much artichoke that you made yourself sick. You’d fill your stomach long before you got too much vitamin E. However, artichoke extract is far more concentrated.
It’s not a good idea to drink an entire glass of artichoke extract, but barring mass consumption, it would be hard to hurt yourself by taking too much. It is possible, however, to enjoy something to an excess. For example, this supplement contains the iron, magnesium, and copper of many concentrated artichokes, and it’s possible to overdose on those minerals.
The human body only needs 10 milligrams of copper per day; more than that and it risks experiencing serious health problems. A kilogram of artichoke extract contains between 4.7 and 10.5 milligrams of copper. That means that three hefty smoothies of artichoke extract per day could be quite bad for you. Proper dosages of artichoke extract are measured in milligrams.
Whenever you administer an extract, tincture, or other concentrated plant product, it’s important to be aware of how much is safe. Luckily, the artichoke is easy to take responsibly. Participants in artichoke extract experiments have taken artichoke for up to 23 months with few serious side effects.
Artichoke dosages to maximize benefits
It’s also important to know how much artichoke to take to get optimal artichoke extract benefits. If you take less than a certain clinical amount, then you might not see any effect at all. While eating entire artichokes might not be an effective way to get a dose of the cynarin, luteolin, and the other good chemicals in artichoke, artichoke extract is specifically refined to help you control how much of these nutrients you get in every single dose.
Artichoke extract dosage for digestion
Studies of artichoke extract focusing on digestion have found that taking between 320 and 640 milligrams three times per day, is a good effective dose. For reference, 640 milligrams are about a twelfth of a teaspoon. One way to administer your artichoke extract dosage is with a dropper, ideally with your meal. Dry pills exist, too.
The key to using artichoke extract for digestive issues seems to be timing. Taking it without food won’t hurt you, it just won’t help you much either – not for your intended purpose, anyway. The digestive effects of this herbal remedy manifest strongly within an hour of its ingestion. Artichoke extract makes your liver produce more bile, and this effect is most pronounced between half an hour and an hour and a half of dosage.
In other words, optimum artichoke usage must coincide with the point in time when you’d normally expect to feel bloated and nauseous. Some dyspeptic patients who use artichoke extract find it best to take artichoke ahead of a meal. That way, it has time to work into the system and stimulate the liver, preparing for the hard work of digesting your meal.
Artichoke extract dosage for cholesterol
If you’ve read our previous section and done the math, you’ll know that the ideal artichoke extract dosage for controlling your digestion, 640 milligrams three times a day, adds up to about 1,920 milligrams. Some sources claim that the same dose is also ideal for controlling your cholesterol.
However, most studies have found that doses of 1,800 milligrams per day are effective for this purpose, lowering cholesterol levels by over 18%. Other studies have found that artichoke extract doses of just 1,280 milligrams yielded significant results. When deciding what dose is right for you, it is critical to consider your height, weight, and body type. A medical professional can help you navigate these factors and maximize the benefit you may get from taking artichoke extract.
Artichoke acts fast, yielding results that are measurable within an hour of dosage. However, this fast action is only reliable after two to eight weeks of artichoke extract dosage. While artichoke extract may provide a little immediate relief in the short term, you won’t see the full effects until you’ve been taking it for a while. That’s because your body needs to get used to your new routine and build up healthy levels of artichoke extract’s nutrients in your blood. This is normal, not just for artichoke, but for many medications and herbal supplements.
The key to making artichoke extract work for you is to develop a new routine over the introductory weeks of your treatment. Take artichoke extract regularly and turn it into a habit. By the time you see the effects manifest, taking artichoke extract should be a seamless part of your daily routine.
Artichoke extract dosage for nootropic use
Taking our famous nootropic supplement is a great way to get the mental benefits of artichoke extract without having to count out droplets or guess at levels in other supplements. CILTEP is already ideally calibrated to initiate Long Term Potentiation. One day’s dose is three CILTEP pills.
We’ve found that 900 milligrams of artichoke extract are enough to effectively block PDE4. You can take them 300 milligrams at a time, spacing them out to coincide with your meals. That strategy would maximize the levels of artichoke extract and forskolin in your blood. This blood level is what you want since you want your neurons to constantly be exposed to the PDE4-blocking artichoke extract. Remember, PDE4 is the chemical that inhibits the messenger chemical cAMP. With less PDE4, the signals your neurons send are inherently less inhibited.
Since CILTEP also contains forskolin, your neurons should also pump out extra cAMP. With more cAMP, your brain can work harder, and your memory and cognitive functioning should improve.
Be aware, however, that more is not necessarily better. Whenever you take a drug or herbal remedy, follow the instructions.
Even though artichoke extract is fairly safe, forskolin is slightly more dangerous. Taking too much could cause excessive bleeding and blood pressure that’s too low. Since forskolin is a critical ingredient in CILTEP, it’s important not to take more than three CILTEP pills per day.
Artichoke Side Effects
Artichoke comes with few side effects for most people. It’s an easy, relatively safe extract to take, with several safe dosage options available. That said, it’s still important to talk to your doctor when you change your medical routine.
Good and bad effects
Remember, if an herbal medicine can impact you positively, then it can also impact you negatively. Your body and the supplements you put into it don’t judge their interactions to be “good” or “bad.” They’re just carrying out basic chemical interactions. It’s cause-and-effect on a molecular level.
Your interpretation of those effects is what makes them “bad,” and “good” is simply receiving a desirable outcome from your choice of supplements.
Regardless of dosage, be prepared for the unique reaction of your unique body. Since everyone has different individual characteristics, it’s important to remember that you might not react the same way to artichoke extract as someone else. If you’re small, you may need less artichoke extract than someone who’s large.
Your medical history, your gender, your body type, your activity level, and dozens of other factors can impact how you, specifically, react to the new substance you’ve introduced to your physiology. Even with something as harmless as artichoke, there are possible adverse reactions that you should always be aware of.
Potential side effects to taking artichoke extract
The artichoke is notoriously safe. Unless you’re consuming a kilogram of dried artichoke extract every day, you’re not likely to hurt yourself. However, any bioactive substance that makes a change to your body comes with caveats. Rarely does one of your body’s processes change while every other process related to them stays static. At this point, we’ll go over the problems that might arise when you take artichoke extract, including artichoke extract side effects.
Allergy is one significant danger of taking artichoke. If you’ve never heard of an artichoke allergy before, then that may be because it’s still not consumed often and isn’t usually added to other foods the way that egg, soy, and dairy are.
As a result, many people don’t have an opportunity to expose themselves to artichoke before they try the extract. If they did, they might be aware of an allergy before they try the supplement. If you haven’t eaten an artichoke in the past, it’s important to be cautious when you begin an artichoke extract regimen.
Allergies that a person encounters for the first time in adulthood can be more severe than allergies in children, and unlike childhood allergies, they don’t tend to fade. Medical professionals take adult onset allergies quite seriously. While artichoke allergies don’t exactly make the news the way that peanut and seafood allergies sometimes do, they may be more common than previously anticipated.
Allergic reactions to artichoke
The artichoke plant is related to ragweed, which is itself a very common allergen. If you find that you tend to become stuffy and ill during the spring, then it’s possible that you have an allergy to ragweed pollen, which tends to float in the air until it’s accidentally inhaled. Ragweed allergy usually manifests as flu-like symptoms, concentrating in the nasal passages. That’s because the nose and throat are where ragweed enters the body. If someone who was allergic to ragweed were to try to eat it, they may experience worse symptoms.
How does this relate to artichoke? Sometimes, when there’s enough similarity between two plants, an allergy to one can indicate an allergy to the other. This is called cross-reactivity. The chemical structures that cause the allergy in one plant may be present in its cousin too if they evolved from a common ancestor. This is why people with ragweed allergies, who sneeze and blow their nose in the summer and spring, sometimes get artichoke allergies as well.
Artichoke extract is a hyper-concentrated version of the artichoke, and an allergic reaction to the culinary artichoke could become more severe when the substance being taken is artichoke extract. It always pays to be extra-cautious. Luckily, there are safe, fast allergy tests that your doctor can do if you’re concerned that you might have an artichoke allergy.
Allergies can’t be permanently cured medicinally or herbally. This is because your body considers them a proper reaction to a threat. They’re amped-up immune system reactions that are technically natural, even though they’re a little over-the-top. Although artichoke is benign, your body can misidentify it as an invader, and it then deploys an immune response against it.
That’s why ragweed allergies look so much like the flu. Your immune system is making your body react in a very similar way to threats that it considers related. People with severe ragweed allergies may also be allergic to bananas, chamomile tea, and sunflower seeds.
Responding to an artichoke allergy
Food allergies are particularly dangerous and can be serious enough to send you to the hospital. Signs include nausea, vomiting, swelling, and anaphylaxis, a full-body reaction that can cause your throat to close. If you experience any of these reactions after taking artichoke extract or after consuming any supplement, then your safety could depend on your ability to take them seriously.
Proceed directly to the emergency room and seek the help of a doctor. Unfortunately, if you have an artichoke allergy, you will not be able to safely consume any supplement that contains artichoke extract, including CILTEP. Luckily, we carry a number of nootropic alternatives, such as Smart Caffeine and Acetylcholine Brain Food, that can similarly enhance your mental abilities.
Bile duct obstruction
Bile ducts are the apertures through which your liver sends bile to your gallbladder. When they become blocked, sometimes by a tumor or cyst, your liver continues to make bile. This is called bile duct obstruction. This digestive fluid then backs up in the liver and damages its ability to function.
This can lead to jaundice and often needs to be treated medically. Bile duct cancer is one reason that obstruction may occur. If you have a serious gallstone problem, then you may experience bile duct blockage as well. This condition also requires medical intervention, but it’s much more common and not as serious as bile duct tumors.
If your bile ducts are not working correctly, then having extra bile in your system is not the healthiest idea. The faster bile backs up into your liver, the sicker you’ll get. Bile duct obstruction is an acute and serious problem that needs the immediate attention of a doctor. Taking artichoke extract should be the last thing on your mind if you should encounter this medical issue. However, if you’re already taking artichoke extract when you develop a bile duct problem, then it’s important to stop as soon as possible.
Since artichoke extract makes your liver generate bile, you are likely to worsen your situation if you keep taking it with non-working bile ducts.
Gallstones are hard little crystals that form from bile. Unsurprisingly, they pile up in your gallbladder, where they can cause all kinds of mischief, including blockages. They often form when your bile has too much cholesterol in it. Since high cholesterol is a reason that people tend to take artichoke extract in the first place, it’s important to know whether you are at risk for gallstones before you begin to take artichoke extract.
Remember, it may take a few weeks before artichoke extract influences your body, and if you’re already forming gallstones, then introducing more bile to your gallbladder might make the situation worse. A history of liver damage or anemia can similarly cause gallstones. Those need to be treated before you start to take artichoke extract to prevent gallstone situations from becoming more serious.
If you develop gallstones, you may end up having to get your gallbladder removed surgically. This is partially because gallstones notoriously reoccur and could prove to be a problem for a long time. However, there are also medications that dissolve gallstones. It’s important to take these under a doctor’s supervision and at a doctor’s orders. Gallstones can obstruct your gallbladder, leading to bile duct obstruction and making you ill.
If you do have your gallbladder removed, then it may be possible to take artichoke extract afterward. The liver continues to make bile but distributes it differently. No research has been done on the topic of artichoke extract use after gallbladder removal. Before you try this avenue, talk to your doctor.
Diuretics are also called “water pills.” However, many foods function as diuretics, too. They are substances, often used medicinally, that promote urination. They can treat edema, high blood pressure, and even glaucoma.
Although it won’t necessarily do anything for your eyesight or blood pressure, artichoke will certainly make you need the bathroom more than usual. This isn’t necessarily a serious problem unless you happen to be on a long road trip. In fact, since your kidneys are crucial to eliminating toxins from your body, it can be a good thing to urinate frequently.
However, diuretic action does mean that your body uses and gets rid of more water than it normally might. If you’re taking another diuretic on top of artichoke extract, your bathroom trips could become annoying, or even interfere with your life. Worse, you could become dehydrated.
Drinking a lot of water is always part of a good health plan. Many Americans are chronically dehydrated and suffer headaches, fatigue, and poor skin health as a result.
Your kidneys use water to flush toxins out of your system all day long, and when water isn’t present, they can’t do their job. Experts recommend drinking about half a gallon of water a day. If you’re taking artichoke, it’s good to be extra aware of how much water you’re drinking. Remember, artichoke will make you urinate more whether or not you’ve had a lot of water. You may as well drink up and stay hydrated.
Artichoke Extract and Pregnancy
When many people think of artichoke leaf extract side effects, they think in terms of their own experience. However, some people may find themselves in a position where they’re eating, and taking supplements, for two. In that case, it’s important to be aware of how your supplements may impact your unborn baby. There are many supplements and herbal remedies that affect developing children, especially fetuses.
In fact, everything that a mother consumes during pregnancy passes on to her fetus through her blood. One of the reasons that obstetricians are so careful about medicating pregnant women is because any bioactive substance can influence the development of the fetus, leading to unexpected outcomes at the baby’s birth.
There’s no danger associated with eating artichokes while pregnant, but artichoke extract is much more concentrated than the vegetable itself. Its activity in pregnant women also hasn’t been studied very much. Nootropic stacks like CILTEP haven’t been tested for pregnancy safety, either.
However, forskolin, the other active compound in CILTEP, is potentially unsafe for unborn children, possibly slowing or stopping growth of the fetus. As tempting as it may be to give your child a nootropic start in life, these supplements serve them best after their brains have matured. Meanwhile, avoid taking both artichoke extract and forskolin while you are pregnant.
Artichoke extract has been studied extensively by the medical community. Its efficacy has been proven. That means that the presence of bioactive chemicals in artichoke extract has been confirmed: it is a fact that artichoke extract has an impact on your health. This places it into the same class as medications and other herbal supplements.
Remember, bioactive substances in medications are usually based on chemicals found originally in nature, often developed by the same herbalists, witch doctors, priests, healers who spent thousands of years learning how to best use artichoke. Medications and herbal remedies are close cousins, and like any family members, they sometimes compete, disagree with each other, and generally don’t get along. This is the case with artichoke and anti-cholesterol drugs like Lipitor.  Artichoke and Lipitor do the same thing: they reduce your cholesterol levels. Though they accomplish this feat in different ways, the outcome is the same.
At first blush, it may make sense to take artichoke and Lipitor together to reduce cholesterol even further, but that can cause other problems. When medications augment one another’s effects, the consequences can be unpredictable. A small study found that people who took both artichoke extract and Lipitor at the same time had a slightly elevated risk of angiopathy, a blood vessel disease. There were also indications that joint pain and bone disorders could result from this combination of substances.
These findings were preliminary but significant enough that artichoke extract users should be wary. If you're already taking an anti-cholesterol medication like Lipitor, consider skipping artichoke supplements.
Another study that suggested that people who were exposed to the industrial byproduct carbon disulfide at work experienced lower platelet counts when taking artichoke extract.  Platelets are special cells in your blood that stick to open wounds and stop them up, just like a bandage. The scabs that form over cuts in your skin are made up of platelets. They’re the first line of defense when you get a wound and the first step in the healing process.
If there aren’t enough of them, you’re likely to bleed more freely and for longer. You’ll bruise more easily, too, since bruises are just signs of bleeding beneath your skin. The results of this study are significant – and not just for people who are exposed to carbon disulfide. They suggest that artichoke extract could function as a blood thinner in the presence of other blood thinners, with its effects negligible while it’s being taken alone, but more serious when taken in combination with another platelet-reducing drug.
Until further research has been conducted on artichoke extract and blood thinners, it’s a good idea to be cautious. Talk to your doctor if you’re already taking a blood thinner, such as heparin or aspirin, before starting yourself on artichoke extract.
On the other hand, some interactions can be positive, especially when it comes to nootropic uses for artichoke. According to biohacker Abelard Lindsay, CILTEP compliments Racetams, which are other nootropic chemicals that can give your cognition a boost. For more information, plus a swift review of the neuroscience behind nootropics, read his in-depth article.
Taking artichoke extract responsibly
Side effects can seem frightening, and many are unpredictable. However, in the case of artichoke extract, they are quite rare. Treat artichoke extract the way you would treat any other supplement: with respect. If you believe in the efficacy of your supplement, then it’s important to believe that it can make a positive or negative change. Taking a supplement without information about your physiological and pharmaceutical needs can be dangerous if you’re taking other drugs..
As tempting as it is to circumvent a doctor’s advice, either because you worry that they’ll try to dissuade you or because it’s simply not convenient, it’s important to find a good ally in the medical community to support your use of artichoke extract. Look for herbalists who are trained as pharmacists or general practitioners who are also certified in natural medicine. As demand for these types of professionals grows, more and more appear.
Above all, it’s important to never take a self-prescribed herbal supplement instead of getting medical treatment. Even artichoke extract, which is benign by any standard, can exacerbate gallstones. Treating high cholesterol by yourself leaves you without the medical tests that would otherwise tell you that your treatment regimen is working.
At that point, you would have to guess at the efficacy of your artichoke use, not knowing whether to raise or lower your dose. Instead of going it alone, work with your doctor to establish an artichoke extract routine that fits your body and its needs. Overall, artichoke extract benefits outweigh the negatives.
Why Take Artichoke Extract?
There are few supplements more versatile, safe, or convenient than artichoke extract. Whether refined and purified, as in our CILTEP nootropic stack, or in liquid form as a digestive aid, artichoke extract is an easy way to improve your body and mind. Ancient people knew that this incredible vegetable had special properties, but only recently have we been able to concentrate those in one superpowered pill.
It’s still possible to take artichoke leaf itself. First in Romania and Vietnam, and now all over the world, herbalists still make a strong tea with artichoke leaves and use this liquid as a digestive and to protect the liver. However, the extract is still the best way, and if your goal is nootropic enhancement, it’s the only way. CILTEP is a great place to start if you’re new to nootropics. Made with two natural herbs that have been known for thousands of years, our supplement is a fantastic way to start exploring the world of nootropics.