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Artichoke administration had beneficial effects on lowering blood glucose levels in alloxan-treated rabbits (Ursapharm Arzneimittel 1998). One study using artichoke leaf juice showed it improved endothelial reactivity, most likely by its antioxidant constituents (Lupattelli et al 2004). According to German commission E, human studies have confirmed carminative, spasmolytic and anti-emetic actions (Blumenthal et al 2000).

Clinical note— Inulin: a natural prebiotic

Inulin is a plant-derived carbohydrate that is not digested or absorbed in the small intestine, but is fermented in the colon by beneficial bacteria. It functions as a prebiotic, stimulating growth of bifidobacteria in the intestine and has been associated with enhanced function of the gastrointestinal system and immune © 2007 Elsevier Australia

system (Lopez-Molina et al 2005). Increasing levels of beneficial bacteria, such as bifidobacteria, allows them to 'out compete' potentially detrimental organisms and improve the health of the host. Inulin also increases calcium and magnesium absorption, influences blood glucose levels and reduces the levels of cholesterol and serum lipids. Globe artichoke contains 3% of fresh-weight inulin and smaller amounts are found in the leaves.

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