Artichoke leaf extract (Cynara scolymus) reduces plasma cholesterol in otherwise healthy hypercholesterolemic adults: a randomized, double blind placebo controlled trial.
Phytomedicine. 2008 Sep;15(9):668-75. PMID: 18424099
Cardiovascular diseases are the chief causes of death in the UK, and are associated with high circulating levels of total cholesterol in the plasma. Artichoke leaf extracts (ALEs) have been reported to reduce plasma lipids levels, including total cholesterol, although high quality data is lacking. The objective of this trial was to assess the effect of ALE on plasma lipid levels and general well-being in otherwise healthy adults with mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia. 131 adults were screened for total plasma cholesterol in the range 6.0-8.0 mmol/l, with 75 suitable volunteers randomised onto the trial. Volunteers consumed 1280 mg of a standardised ALE, or matched placebo, daily for 12 weeks. Plasma total cholesterol decreased in the treatment group by an average of 4.2% (from 7.16 (SD 0.62) mmol/l to 6.86 (SD 0.68) mmol/l) and increased in the control group by an average of 1.9% (6.90 (SD 0.49) mmol/l to 7.03 (0.61) mmol/l), the difference between groups being statistically significant (p=0.025). No significant differences between groups were observed for LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol or triglyceride levels. General well-being improved significantly in both the treatment (11%) and control groups (9%) with no significant differences between groups. In conclusion, ALE consumption resulted in a modest but favourable statistically significant difference in total cholesterol after 12 weeks. In comparison with a previous trial, it is suggested that the apparent positive health status of the study population may have contributed to the modesty of the observed response.