In Argentina, where my mother’s from, it is common to take a “hepatoprotector” supplement while eating to help deal with digestion. One of these is artichoke extract of which I take whenever I eat a big meal. Perhaps my habit was largely based on anecdotal evidence, but some research has been appearing about the benefits.
A few studies in rats and humans suggest the extract can have hepatoprotective activity due to antioxidant polyphenols(1-3). These appear to act by encouraging bile synthesis as well as protecting hepatocytes from oxidative stress (1-3).
1. Miccadei S, Di VD, Cardinali A et al. Antioxidative and apoptotic properties of polyphenolic extracts from edible part of artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) on cultured rat hepatocytes and on human hepatoma cells. Nutr Cancer 2008;60:276-83.
2. Speroni E, Cervellati R, Govoni P, Guizzardi S, Renzulli C, Guerra MC. Efficacy of different Cynara scolymus preparations on liver complaints. J Ethnopharmacol 2003;86:203-11.
3. Adzet T, Camarasa J, Laguna JC. Hepatoprotective activity of polyphenolic compounds from Cynara scolymus against CCl4 toxicity in isolated rat hepatocytes. J Nat Prod 1987;50:612-7.