Gynostemma Herb

Other Names of Gynostemma: Gynostemmapentaphyllum; jiaogulan; five leaf ginseng; poor man's ginseng; miracle grass;sweet tea vine; Southern Ginseng

Useful Parts of the Plant: Roots; stem; leaves

Gynostemmapentaphyllum, also known as jiaogulan, is a member belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family (cucumber or gourd family). It grows primarily in the southern parts of China, northern Vietnam, southern Korea and Japan. It is widely known as a herbal medicine having powerful antioxidant as well as adaptogenic properties and is reputed to increase longevity. Local inhabitants in China, who have a history of living for longer periods, have consumed jiaogulan tea regularly, adding to its reputation as the 'immortality herb'. It has been used for many centuries in the treatment of various ailments like hematuria, edema in the pharynx and neck and tumors.

Nutritional information and properties of Gynostemma Herb

Gynostemmapentaphyllum has certain chemical compounds that are identical to those found in Panax Ginseng. These compounds, known as saponins (gypenosides), are what give the herb its adaptogenic properties. They contain four times the level of saponins as the Panax Ginseng herb.

Known as the 'miracle tea' to locals, it contains a host of other amino acids, vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc.

It has powerful antioxidant properties, increasing levels of superoxide dismutase that is a very strong endogenous cellular antioxidant. There have been studies which show that it causes an increase in the performance of Tlymphocytes, natural killer cells as also macrophages. This action makes it useful in the treatment and prevention of tumors.

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses of Gynostemma Herb

  • Gynostemmapentaphyllum is an adaptogen, a herb that herbalists claim has the ability to restore homeostasis (balance and equilibrium) to all five systems (the cardiovascular, digestive, immune, nervous and reproductive systems) of the body. This is because of its unusually high saponin content, almost four times that of Ginseng.
  • The adaptogenic effects of these compounds include blood pressure regulation and improving endurance and stamina. In conjunction with codonopsis, it can help in treating altitude sickness and jet lag.
  • These saponins can lower hypertension as also raise hypotension and thus help to keep blood pressure within normal range. Research has been conducted to understand the mechanism by which these saponins decrease blood pressure. One possible explanation is that Gynostemmapentaphyllum stimulates the production of nitric oxide, thereby allowing the relaxation of blood vessels and this causes a lowering of blood pressure.
  • Numerous other studies on both animals and humans recommend that Gynostemmapentaphyllum, when used with different other herbs is known to have a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system. It helps by escalating heart stroke volume and cardiac output as also simultaneously lowering the rate of heart beat, all without upsetting arterial pressure.
  • Medical studies show that it may also play a role in lowering LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels while raising HDL cholesterol levels (good cholesterol).
  • Some studies also show that it has the potential to decrease blood sugar levels and to improve insulin sensitivity, a fact that is good news for people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Many studies have been conducted which show that Gynostemmapentaphyllum can retard the growth of tumor cells. Research also indicates that it may even be able to prevent cells from turning cancerous and may be capable of disrupting cell division in cancerous cells.
  • It is also being studied for use as an immune system protector and in the treatment of those infected with the HIV virus. 

Other Uses:

  • It is generally used as a tea, with the leaves being boiled in water, or can be had in the powdered form. The normal adult dose is about 5-12 grams in a decoction form (tea) or 1-10 grams as a powder.
  • It appears to be relatively safe though some cases of mild side effects have been reported. These include fatigue and lethargy, dry nose and throat, increased pulse rate and rash.