Artichoke leaf for irritable bowel syndrome

One or two capsules of a standardized extract of artichoke leaves improved symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in a study of over 200 volunteers. Alternating constipation/diarrhea decreased, and subjects in the study who also reported dyspepsia reported improvement in those symptoms.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common disorder with an incidence of 15% estimated in the North American population. Symptoms include abdominal pain and alternating constipation and diarrhea, but no pathology is apparent on examination. Abdominal pain is typically relieved after the bowel is emptied. There may be mucus in the stools, abdominal distention, discomfort in the upper abdomen after meals, and urgency to use the toilet. Some women report an increase in symptoms around the menstrual period. It occurs most commonly in the late 20’s, with females afflicted approximately twice as often as males. The cause is not clearly understood.

Careful diet may improve symptoms. Slowly increasing the fiber intake, avoiding large or fatty meals, and a lactose-free diet may all be helpful. Caffeine often exacerbates symptoms.

There are two subcatagories — constipation predominant symptoms and diarrhea predominant symptoms. Both subtypes benefit from increased dietary fiber or fiber supplements.

Artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) given as a commercial product (Cynara (TM)) was taken daily for two months in this study. There were no significant differences in the group given one or two tablets per dose.

(Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 10(4)667-669, 2004

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