Digestive Problems

Irritable bowel syndrome: The vegetable that helps relieve indigestion and IBS

Date: 13 September, 2005

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I recently received an email from an HSI member asking about the health benefits of artichoke extract.

I love eating artichoke hearts in salads and was curious to find out more.

Stop indigestion with artichoke extract
Have you ever felt bloated or sick, had heartburn or experienced embarrassing belching attacks after a spicy meal? Well, if you have, relief could be just around the corner with these study results.

A team of researchers from the Department of Gastroenterology, at the University of Essen in Germany, conducted a study to test the effectiveness of artichoke leaf extract (Cynara scolymus L.) in treating functional dyspepsia.

Dyspepsia means indigestion to you and me. Functional dyspepsia is the type of indigestion that is not caused by a stomach ulcer.

In the trial, 247 patients with indigestion were recruited and given either commercial artichoke leaf extract or a placebo. The researchers measured the effectiveness of the extract by the patients weekly rating of the overall change in symptoms on a four-point scale. Next they looked at the scores of each symptom and the quality of life as measured by the Nepean Dyspepsia Index (NDI).

At the end of the 6 week trial the conclusion was that the artichoke leaf extract was significantly better than the placebo in alleviating symptoms and improving the quality of life of patients with indigestion.

Sounds great! As many of you know, I would much rather reach for a natural remedy than an over-the-counter quick fix thats laden with side effects.

But the benefits of artichoke extract dont stop there.

Alleviate irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gut problem that can affect anyone at any age.

Researchers from the University of Reading, found that 208 adults with irritable bowel syndrome treated with artichoke leaf extract experienced a significant fall in symptoms. IBS symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, and alternating diarrhoea and constipation.

Participants reported more normal bowel patterns and a 20% improvement in quality-of-life as measured by the NDI.

Studies have also shown the compounds from artichoke leaf extract can be effective in fighting fungi. The leaves, heads, and stems of the artichoke could be used in remedies although studies have found the leaf extracts to be the most effective.

There is a variety of artichoke products on the market including tablets, capsules, and tinctures. You should be able to find these in your local health food shop and if not, you can order online.

Nutritional value of artichoke hearts
And getting back to saladswhat about the nutritional value of artichoke hearts?

According to the Vegetable Research and Information Center at the University of California (US), globe artichoke hearts supply you with four important nutrients. Half a cup of artichoke hearts contains 21% of your Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of folic acid, 11.8% RDA of magnesium, 10% RDA of vitamin C, and 6.7% RDA of iron.

As I have mentioned in previous e-alerts, folic acid as found in artichokes, helps prevent birth defects, heart disease and cognitive decline. Artichokes are also a good source of fibre.

According to the website Artichokes.net, artichokes are actually edible thistles. This interesting vegetable has also had a brush with glamour. Back in 1949, before Marilyn Monroe was famous, she was crowned the Artichoke Queen of Castroville, California the self-proclaimed ‘artichoke capital of the world.’

If you have never tried artichoke hearts, why not try this healthy salad before the summer comes to an end?

Green leaves
Artichoke hearts
Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Green olives
Sundried tomatoes
Flageolet beans

Drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and pesto and enjoy!

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  1. Robert Neethling Posted February 24, 2010

    Artichokes! Well who’da thought… perhaps this is why the Greeks love it so much.

  2. helen Posted July 30, 2009

    have never thought about it like that before. Thanks so much for the depth and understanding at which you covered the topic. it’s a useful piece of information not only for me but for many others. have read a lot on the topic (download mainly from http://www.picktorrent.com but this piece really gives food for thought

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