~ Artichoke Extract Relieves Irritable Bowel Syndrome

By Linda M. Smith, RN, March 2005

English researchers have reported that the administration of artichoke leaf extract showed impressive results in relieving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and dyspesia.

As many as 20% of adults suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, which is characterized by abdominal discomfort and altered bowel habits such as constipation and diarrhea. Many of those with irritable bowel syndrome also experience functional dyspepsia, which is defined as upper abdominal pain without apparent cause.

Dietary and lifestyle changes remain first-line therapy for two thirds of patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Common treatments such as bulking agents, anti-spasmodics, and gastric motility agents may partially or temporarily relieve symptoms, but do not modify the disease itself. Though not a life-threatening condition, irritable bowel syndrome can significantly impact the quality of life in sufferers.

In their study, researchers at the University of Reading, England, enrolled more than 200 adults who were asked about symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and dyspepsia after two months of treatment with artichoke extract. Improvement in bowel function approaching "normal" occurred in 26% of the subjects, while marked improvements in dyspepsia and quality-of-life scores (41% and 20%, respectively) were also reported. While new drugs are being developed to treat irritable bowel syndrome, the study results suggest that artichoke leaf extract may be a safe, effective alternative to costly prescription medications.

Reference

Bundy R, Walker AF, Middleton RW, Marakis G, Booth JC. Artichoke leaf extract reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and improves quality of life in otherwise healthy volunteers suffering from concomitant dyspepsia: a subset analysis. J Altern Complement Med. 2004 Aug;10(4):667-9.
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