Efficacy of different Cynara scolymus preparations on liver complaints

J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Jun;86(2-3):203-11. doi: 10.1016/s0378-8741(03)00076-x.


Cynara scolymus leaves extracts have long been used in folk medicine for their choleretic and hepatoprotective activities, that are often related to the cynarin content. These therapeutic properties are also attributed to mono- and di-caffeoylquinic acids and since commercial C. scolymus preparations can differ for their activities, we studied four extracts to evaluate, if present, a relationship between the hepatobiliary properties of the different preparations and their content in phenolics. The antioxidant activity of the commercial preparations examined was also considered in an in vitro system. The results showed that the extract with the highest content in phenolic derivatives (GAE) exerted the major effect on bile flow and liver protection. Also the results of the antioxidant capacity (BR) of the different preparations are in good agreement with the results obtained in vivo. On the contrary, administering rats with doses of chlorogenic acid, equivalent to those present in this extract, we did not observe any choleretic or protective action. An histopathological analysis of liver sections confirmed the biochemical results. Perhaps caffeoyl derivatives have a role in the therapeutic properties of C. scolymus extracts, as reported in literature for "in vitro" studies, but when administered alone, they are not so effective in exerting this action.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Animals
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / blood
  • Bile / drug effects*
  • Carbon Tetrachloride / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / metabolism
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / prevention & control
  • Chlorogenic Acid / isolation & purification
  • Chlorogenic Acid / pharmacology
  • Cinnamates / isolation & purification
  • Cinnamates / pharmacology
  • Cynara scolymus*
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Plant Extracts* / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts* / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Cinnamates
  • Plant Extracts
  • Chlorogenic Acid
  • cynarine
  • Carbon Tetrachloride
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases
  • Alanine Transaminase