Last updated: January 13, 2017
Although artichoke hearts can be a delightful treat common to Europe and North America, they probably do not provide the same benefits as a concentrated dose of artichoke extract. This extract is most well known for having a bioactive compound called cynarin, which can improve cognitive function alone or with other compounds .
Most notably in recent years, artichoke extract is used in combination with forskolin to create the CILTEP stack (also known as chemically induced long-term potentiation) . Beyond benefits for improving memory formation, artichoke extract can also enhance various types of memory (including both long and short-term) 
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Editors’ Thoughts on Artichoke Extract
This was first introduced to me as part of the CILTEP stack created on Longecity, which included a combination of artichoke extract and forskolin to create memory and concentration benefits. Ironically, I learned about artichoke extract before I ever ate an artichoke.
More recently, I’ve enjoyed artichoke extract as part of the Qualia stack, but that has a lot more going on than the original CILTEP does. In both cases, my experience with this novel combination has been relatively good, but not breathtaking by any stretch (and certainly not as good as modafinil as some might have you believe).
Looks to be relatively safe, but the scientific research is lagging behind a little bit.
Mansal Denton, Nootropedia Editor
Benefits of Artichoke Extract
There are many purported benefits of artichoke extract, but most of them are for the purposes of fat burning, weight loss, or lowering cholesterol. For example, one study showed artichoke extract could reduce food intake and thus weight gain .
For the brain, the benefits are clearly related to the synergy with forskolin for potentiating memory enhancements and downstream effects.
In a 2010 study in the European Journal of Pharmacology, scientists explored how certain molecules interacted with cAMP and phosphodiesterase-4 (PDE-4), which are both involved in long-term potentiation and memory formation . This, combined with other research on the topic, verifies the efficacy of forskolin and artichoke extract together.
Another study in 1998 looked at a synthetic drug with similar pharmacology as artichoke extract and confirmed lasting improvements for working and short-term memory in addition to longer term memory consolidation . While this wasn’t on artichoke extract per se, we believe it to be representative of this effect from artichoke extract and specifically the cynarin molecule.
Side Effects of Artichoke Extract
There are relatively few side effects of artichoke extract by itself. This chemical compound seems to be relatively safe for humans to use, but higher doses of 2 – 6 grams of this can cause gastrointestinal distress in some people.
Some people who use artichoke extract and forskolin together feel significant cognitive effects and one side effect may be headaches or fatigue. Anecdotal evidence suggests a side effect of artichoke extract and forskolin is fatigue and exhaustion that lasts longer-term.
Artichoke Extract Dosage
For many purposes, the artichoke extract dosage is in the 1800 – 6000 mg range, but this is far too much for cognitive effects. The artichoke extract dosage is around 4 – 900 mg assuming 5% cynarin and in combination with forskolin.
Again, these doses are theoretical because the combination of artichoke extract and forskolin has not been tested in a research setting yet. It is important to keep this in mind when you are consuming the extracts.
How and Where to Buy Artichoke Extract
Artichoke extract might be harder to find at your local health food or supplement store. While some may have it, make sure you purchase artichoke extract that has 5% cynarin content. This is the standardization that will keep you safest when consuming the compound. A lower cynarin content is fine, but make sure it says the content somewhere so that you can calculate for yourself.
Also, keep in mind when you buy artichoke extract that the manufacturer must be a reliable source. On Amazon you can find many sources of artichoke extract for sale including one reliable vendor here.
Selected Community Experiences
“what brand of artichoke extract do you use to get 900mg? The only one I see in 450mg pills is the NOW brand, but I always read bad things about them in the Amazon reviews such as missing pills or that there are 50 shill reviews posted on the same day.”  – damaged_but_whole
“…For me, it’s been the best bang for the buck nootropic stack. I still take racetams and Noopept and like them as well, but dollar for dollar, ime, CILTEP is, at the very least, worth a try. I’ll try and come back when I’m off my phone and edit this post to provide you with the link. I’ve never heard of a single person sleeping in a 14 hour coma-esque slumber while on this stack…I wish I could sleep that long some days. Unfortunately I’ll have to be happy with 7-8 at this point.”  – xslv1
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