Artichoke – Bile Flow Support for Vegans

artichokeA lot of people have problem taking the bile acids obtained from bovine. Maybe they are strictly vegans or just don’t like the idea of ingesting the freeze dried bile from animals. The nature has an option for them – Artichoke (Cynara scolymus).

More powerful than bile acids

The study on rats from 2002 concluded that artichoke leaf extract (ALE) has the similar effects as the dehydrocholic acid in terms of its choleretic activity. Orally administered ALE twice a day for 7 consecutive days significantly increased the bile acid concentration over the entire experiment. The highest dose that the researchers administered to rats was 400mg/kg of ALE and artichoke was much more potent in terms of bile acids production than reference – dehydrocholic acid. Researchers did not found any differences in cholesterol and phospholipid excretion.[1]

These parts of the plants are commonly consumed as food since don't contain much bile flow stimulating compounds.

These parts of the plants are commonly consumed as food since don’t contain much bile flow stimulating compounds.

I have always recommended Ox bile as bile flow support supplement since it is popular and easy to get but if the study proved that artichoke is superior even to dehydrocholic acid what is already way potent than cholic acid found in Ox bile it may be a great alternative. I had not found more scientific data about artichoke effects on bile flow that would be reliable enough to be compared with Ox bile or dehydrocholic acid but subjective reports from users show that artichoke is as good as bile acids. In Europe it was used by herbalists for a long time as a digestive aid and for liver repair.

Also keep in mind that “bile flow” and “bile acids production” are two different processes. Bile flow is affected by choleretic supplements (ox bile, dehydrocholic acid and artichoke) but bile acids production is the process in the liver that create bile acids from scratch and release them into the bile.

When taking Ox bile your liver besides processing (absorption and excretion in bile) the bile acids from capsule may create additional bile acids that will release in bile. However when taking artichoke, bile acids produced and released in bile are exclusively made by your liver since artichoke does not contain any bile acids itself.

The differences are also between synthetic dehydrocholic acid (manufactured by the oxidation of cholic acid) and bile acids found in Ox bile (cholic acid):

“Dehydrocholic acid makes liver produce more bile by the process when dehydrocholic acid itself is metabolized in liver cells and excreted along with the bile acids. The natural bile acids seem to make the liver produce own bile acids without metabolizing the supplemental bile acids.”

How much artichoke should I take?

As always I must say that everything is about the balance. Long-term overdosing on anything has detrimental and dangerous consequences.

Active ingredients are present mostly in leafs.

Active ingredients are present mostly in leafs.

Jarrow Formulas Artichoke is a standardized artichoke leaf extract containing 5% of caffeoylquinic acids (chlorogenic acid/cynarins).

Generally it is safe to take 2 capsules 3 times daily but everybody is different. Some people can get clearance of psoriasis taking 3 capsules daily and some might need more.

You can also make a tea from the capsules for better absorption of active ingredients and thus saving the money since you won’t need as much capsules.

You can read more about Artichoke effects here –

1.) Saénz Rodriguez T, García Giménez D, de la Puerta Vázquez R. Choleretic activity and biliary elimination of lipids and bile acids induced by an artichoke leaf extract in rats. Phytomedicine. 2002 Dec;9(8):687-93.

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