Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum) is also called the immortality herb. It is commonly used to prepare tea and is popular in Guizhou, a mountainous province of Southwest China. It is said that this herb (tea) is the secret to their long life.
Research shows that this Chinese herb can treat a range of conditions along with increasing your endurance and helping fight disease. In this article, we will further explore the health benefits of jiaogulan.
Table Of Contents
What Is Jiaogulan?
Jiaogulan (also called five-leaf ginseng, southern ginseng, and sweet tea vine) belongs to the family of cucumbers and gourds. This plant is not fruit-bearing, though. It is a climbing vine, and its leaves are used to make tea. It grows widely in the southern regions of China, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, and Korea.
Jiaogulan contains saponins, which give the herb its antioxidant and adaptogenic properties, along with the capacity to regulate nitric oxide in the body.
The herb is thought to relieve many other conditions like cough, cold, and respiratory issues like bronchitis.
It has been classified as an adaptogen as it is believed to help the body without causing harm. The Chinese consider this herb immortal and believe that it can help in relieving stress and promoting cardiovascular health.
In the following section, we will look at the health benefits of jiaogulan in detail.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Jiaogulan?
1. May Aid Diabetes Treatment
Jiaogulan helps lower blood glucose levels and may aid diabetes treatment. Studies show that it can lower blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity.
The herb stimulates the pancreas, producing more insulin and improving sugar metabolism. This herb, by itself, does not cause hypoglycemia; it only reduces the blood sugar levels if they are high. The damage that usually occurs to the liver, kidneys, and the cardiovascular system from diabetes has been shown to be significantly reduced by consuming the herb (1).
2. May Help Combat Obesity
Jiaogulan has been identified as a potent anti-obesity agent with no adverse effects. In a study involving 80 obese participants, half of them took the herb, while the other half was on placebo. The results showed a significant decrease in total abdominal fat area, body weight, body fat mass, and BMI in those who took the herb (2).
3. Helps Lower Cholesterol Levels
Rat studies have shown that jiaogulan can have anti-hyperlipidemic effects (3). The herb was used even in traditional Chinese medicine for treating elevated cholesterol levels.
In another study, the herb was also found to lower triglyceride levels. In addition, it also had increased the levels of good cholesterol (4).
4. May Help Relieve Stress
Jiaogulan is a calming adaptogen and is useful for relieving anxiety and stress (5).
Other studies also show that this herb can help individuals undergoing chronic psychological stress (6).
5. Can Help Treat Insomnia
The adaptogenic properties of jiaogulan may help treat insomnia. Studies show that adaptogens can help relieve pain and inflammation, which could be factors keeping someone awake at night. By relieving pain and inflammation, jiaogulan may help promote better sleep (7).
6. Can Help Treat Respiratory Disorders
This herb is known to be effective against many respiratory issues, like cough, chronic bronchitis, and inflammation of the trachea. The herb’s expectorant properties help achieve this (8).
Jiaogulan is also said to help with back pain, chronic pain, constipation, and high blood pressure. There is no significant evidence related to these conditions, though.
Jiaogulan is a popular herb that is being heavily researched on. Some feel it could be similar to ginseng. But both are different in their own ways.
Ginseng is often used to treat insomnia, stress, and cases of flu. It is also used for improving endurance, physical strength, and stamina. Though ginseng and jiaogulan do help relieve similar symptoms, the compounds present in them are not identical.
Jiaogulan sure has wonderful benefits, but it may also cause certain potential adverse effects. We will look at them in the next section.
What Are The Side Effects Of Jiaogulan?
- May Stimulate The Immune System
Jiaogulan may stimulate the immune system. Hence, it must not be taken with drugs that suppress the immune system as the herb can potentially make them less effective (9).
- May Increase Bleeding
Some sources say that jiaogulan may inhibit blood clotting. This can increase bleeding in susceptible individuals. However, there is less research to support this fact. To be on the safe side, please avoid taking this herb if you are at risk of bleeding or are about to undergo a surgery.
Jiaogulan supplements have not been tested for their safety, and their sales are often unregulated. The products may also be contaminated with other metals. The safety of these supplements has not been established for those with medical conditions, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children.
Though most benefits of jiaogulan are proven, more research is warranted. If you want to include it in your diet, we suggest you consult your doctor.
Do let us know how the herb has helped you. Share your experiences with us by leaving a comment in the box below.
Frequently Asked Questions
What to do if you want to try jiaogulan?
Make sure to talk to your doctor. You can also speak to professionals trained in herbal medicines to be wary of the potential side effects.
How do you make jiaogulan tea?
Fresh leaves should be used for brewing the tea. First, boil the water. Once the water is bubbling, add a teaspoon of the jiaogulan tea leaves to it. Allow it to boil for 3-10 minutes. You do not have to strain the tea. You can chew on the leaves while having the tea. Enjoy your tea! You can have 2-4 cups of jiaogulan tea in a day.
Does jiaogulan tea contain caffeine?
The tea made from these leaves does not contain caffeine. It also has a slightly bitter taste.
What is the ideal dosage of jiaogulan?
Studies are lacking in this area. However, most sources say that the dosage can be between 4-6 grams per day and should be divided into two parts throughout the day. It should be had 30 minutes before meals.
- Gynostemma pentaphyllum Tea Improves Insulin Sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetic Patients, Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Antiobesity effect of Gynostemma pentaphyllum extract (actiponin): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, Obesity, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Anti-hyperlipidemic and hypoglycemic effects of Gynostemma pentaphyllum in the Zucker fatty rat, Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Phytopreventative anti-hyperlipidemic effects of gynostemma pentaphyllum in rats, Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Adaptogens: Herbs for strength, stamina, and stress relief, Academia.
- Supplementation with extract of Gynostemma pentaphyllum leaves reduces anxiety in healthy subjects with chronic psychological stress: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, Phytomedicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide, Chinese Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Effects of Polysaccharides from Gynostemma Pentaphyllum (Thunb.), Makino on Physical Fatigue, African Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicines, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Immunomodulatory and Antioxidant Effects of Polysaccharides from Gynostemma pentaphyllum Makino in Immunosuppressed Mice, Molecules, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.