Cynarin – properties, use and health effects

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Cynarin is a substance of natural origin contained in artichoke. Its name comes from the Latin name of this vegetable – Cynara scolymus L. Cynarin is responsible for improving liver function and reducing serum lipid levels. The properties of cynarin have been scientifically confirmed. 

The main food source of cynarin is the artichoke belonging to the group of vegetables that are increasingly landing on the Polish table. The artichoke originates from the Mediterranean region – it is no stranger to Italian cuisine. Currently, artichoke cultivation is carried out in Europe and North America, which contributed to better availability of this vegetable. There are also other sources of cynarin available on the market, however, it is related to the artichoke – the artichoke extract sold in the form of mono- and multi-ingredient dietary supplements. 

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Extract of artichoke 

Preparations produced from artichoke, containing extract of these plants, find application in the treatment and prophylaxis of elevated levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Artichoke leaf extract contains not only cynarin, but also flavonoids, including luteolin and apigenin. The whole of the active compounds contained in the extract of artichoke has hypolipemic, choleretic and cholagogic effects. Artichoke extract helps protect the liver from damage and strengthens immunity and acts antioxidant. Not all of these properties can be attributed to cynarin. 

Properties of cynarin 

Cynarin has clinically proven cholangiogenic and choleretic properties and hypolipidemic properties. It improves the production of bile and its flow. This means that cynarin helps maintain cholesterol levels in the body, playing an important role in the prevention of hypercholesterolemia. The cyparin’s hypolipidemic effect is mainly the inhibition of cholesterol synthesis in the liver, increased biliary cholesterol excretion and an increase in the conversion of cholesterol to bile acids. 

Cinnarine also has antioxidant and diuretic properties. It can be used in the nephrotic syndrome. The diuretic effect of cynarin consists in increasing the excretion of urea and water, which is accompanied by an increased synthesis of urea in the liver. Similar properties are found in glycolic acid and glyceric acid contained in artichoke. 

Application of artichoke and cynarin 

The properties that artichoke largely owes to cynarin, influenced the use of artichoke in alternative medicine, and now also in conventional medicine. Interestingly, medicinal applications were already written in the 4th century BC In the 16th century artichoke was used to treat liver and jaundice problems. In addition to cynarine, this vegetable contains other active substances – flavonoids, phytosterols, carbohydrates, B vitamins, amino acids, carotenoids and minerals. 

Artichoke extract may be recommended for the treatment of bile and gall bladder diseases, including cholecystectomy. The preparation containing artichoke extract can be treated as an aid in patients with compensated cirrhosis or with chronic, aggressive and chronic hepatitis. The scope of application of preparations containing artichoke extract also includes toxic liver damage and digestive disorders. Artichoke extract improves digestion and laxative effect. The leaf extract of this plant is helpful in the prevention of diseases of the cardiovascular system, due to its hypolipemic properties. 

In the future, artichoke extract may be used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, cancer and viral infections, including HIV infection, however, these applications still require further research, which will confirm the effectiveness of the use of this plant extract in the above-mentioned cases. 

Artichoke or artichoke extract? 

The artichoke is a vegetable whose edible parts are the parts of inflorescence heads hidden under the outer, hardened scales of the cover, and moreover the fleshy ends of the scaly covers of the inflorescence, the inflorescence itself, its bottom and the end of the stem. Artichoke should be eaten after cooking, baking or frying. Artichokes can be preserved in cans. Artichoke is a rich source of inulin, which is why vegetable is recommended for people suffering from diabetes and suffering from liver disease. 

However, taking into account the content of cynarin in the portion of vegetables compared to the content of this active ingredient in the artichoke leaf extract, it seems that for the optimal results it should be used supplementation from artichoke extract. Eating vegetables will have a positive effect on health and diet. For people who want to achieve optimal effects of cynarin, however, dietary supplements containing artichoke extract are recommended. 

Interactions and contraindications 

Until now, the interaction of cynarin with other substances has not been known. The extract of artichoke leaves, and thus cynarin itself, is well tolerated. Some people may experience symptoms of intolerance such as nausea, vomiting and bounce. Preparations containing artichoke leaf extract should not be given to children under 14 years of age, nor to pregnant or lactating women – no studies have been conducted in these groups, therefore we do not know any side effects. 

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Posted on: May 7, 2019

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