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The artichoke (Cynara Scolymus) has a strong folk history in treating many liver diseases and recent evidence supports this long-time use. The active ingredient in artichoke is cynarin which is found in highest concentrations in the leaves. Like silymarin, cynara extract has demonstrated significant liver protecting and regenerating effects. It also possesses a choleretic (bile stimulating) effect. This is a very important property: if the bile is not being transported adequately to the gallbladder, the liver is at increased risk of damage. Choleretics are very useful in the treatment of hepatitis and other liver diseases via this "decongesting" effect.
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Bile: A bitter, yellow-green secretion of the liver. Bile is stored in the gallbladder and is released when fat enters the first part of the small intestine (duodenum) in order to aid digestion.
Choleretic: Agent stimulating the liver to increase bile production.
Gallbladder: A small, digestive organ positioned under the liver, which concentrates and stores bile. Problems with the gallbladder often lead to "gallbladder attacks", which usually occur after a fatty meal and at night. The following are the most common symptoms: steady, severe pain in the middle-upper abdomen or below the ribs on the right; pain in the back between the shoulder blades; pain under the right shoulder; nausea; vomiting; fever; chills; jaundice; abdominal bloating; intolerance of fatty foods; belching or gas; indigestion.
Hepatitis: Inflammation of the liver usually resulting in jaundice (yellowing of the skin), loss of appetite, stomach discomfort, abnormal liver function, clay-colored stools, and dark urine. May be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, parasitic infestation, alcohol, drugs, toxins or transfusion of incompatible blood. Can be life-threatening. Severe hepatitis may lead to cirrhosis and chronic liver dysfunction.