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Artichoke Leaf Extract Might Chase Away Your Indigestion

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Digestion related image Photo: Getty Images

If you are into trying natural treatments for digestive ailments, you might want to look into artichoke leaf extract, sometimes abbreviated to ALE when purchased at health food stores.

Artichoke leaf extract has undergone medical studies to look at its ability to lower cholesterol and has produced good results. ALE is basically an antioxidant and thus it makes sense that a doctor or alternative health practitioner might suggest it to ward off heart problems.

Not as much scientific research has been directed at ALE for its possible digestive benefits, but the consensus in the medical community seems to be that it can’t hurt to try it, much as you might try peppermint oil, chamomile tea, or other non-drug treatments for better digestion.

In 2003, a large study found artichoke leaf extract to be significantly more effective than a placebo in alleviating dyspepsia, or indigestion.

A WebMD slideshow called “8 Digestive Health Supplements” includes artichoke leaf extract, saying it might relieve symptoms of dyspepsia. Patients with irritable bowel syndrome sometimes try ALE to subdue cramps and abdominal pain. WebMD did caution, though, against taking it if you are allergic to ragweed and related pollens.

Information about indigestion on the DrWeil.com website suggests various supplements, among them artichoke leaf extract. It is seen as increasing the bile flow needed to digest fats. “Choose extracts that are standardized for caffeoylquinic acids,” the site said.

Better Nutrition magazine also mentioned better bile flow through the use of artichoke as an extract or by juicing it. The key substances that account for the artichoke’s benefits are cynaropicrin and cynarin, and the therapeutic benefits of the vegetable are more widely known in Europe, according to Better Nutrition.

To ward off indigestion in the first place, remember these common-sense tips, as listed on the DrWeil.com website:

-- Don’t chew with your mouth open or talk while chewing.

-- Don’t eat too fast, and try to relax after meals.

-- Avoid late-night eating.

-- Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages if they give you indigestion, and refrain from smoking.

-- Keep a food diary to help identify items that trigger indigestion.

When minor digestive ailments occur -- whether they be stomachaches, nausea or intestinal problems -- it’s good to consider natural supplements like ALE along with over-the-counter medicines.


“8 Digestive Health Supplements.” WebMD slideshow. Web. 8 Feb. 2012. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/slideshow-digestive-health?ecd=wnl_gid_092911

“Indigestion.” DrWeil.com. Web. 8 Feb. 2012. http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03035/Indigestion.html

“Detoxify with Herbs.” BetterNutrition.com. Web. 8 Feb. 2012. http://www.betternutrition.com/herbaldetox/supplements/howto/754

“Artichoke Leaf Extract Lowers Cholesterol.” ScienceDaily.com. Web. 8 Feb. 2012. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080702170607.htm

“Dyspepsia.” EmpowHER.com. Web. 8 Feb. 2012. https://www.empowher.com/media/reference/dyspepsia

Reviewed February 9, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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