Jiaogulan, the New Herb on the Block

One of the newest herbs to the natural products market is the antioxidant jiaogulan (jee-ow-goo-lahn). Its name means "twisting vine orchid" describing the physical characteristics of the plant. In China, jiaogulan is praised as xiancao, "the herb of immortality," due to its many health-giving qualities and anti-aging effects.

Jiaogulan, whose botanical name is Gynostemma pentaphyllum, is a plant that grows wild in China, as well as many other countries throughout Asia. In China, it has been used for many years as a medicinal and energizing tea in the local regions where it grows. But when the scientific/medical community discovered jiaogulan's illness-prevention as well as therapeutic qualities, researchers, particularly in China and Japan, began enthusiastically uncovering its great potential. What they discovered was an herb very similar in quality to ginseng, yet in some ways superior.

Jiaogulan is sometimes called "Southernsince it grows in south central China and because of its similarity to ginseng in chemical cornposition and function (even though not in the same plant family).. They found jiaogulan to function both as an adaptogenic herb and as an antioxidant herb, containing many effective saponins named gypenosides, as well as trace minerals, amino acids, proteins, and vitamins.

A superior adaptogen

Jiaogulan is one of the most powerful adaptogenic herbs known. Scientific study has identified at least 82 saponins in jiaogulan. Saponins are the particular class of chemicals that are the effective components of both jiaogulan and ginseng. (Ginseng has been found to have at least 28 saponins.) These saponins are what accounts for jiaogulan's regulatory effect on many bodily systems, e.g., blood pressure, the reproductive system, the immune system, nervous system, endocrine system, and mental functions. Jiaogulan is highly effective in calming the cerebrum and mental irritations by helping to balance and normalize the brain activity and the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. As a result, many ailments that are induced by stress might be avoided with its use. Jiaogulan has also been shown to enhance immunity and resistance to disease, as well as adaptability to physical and mental stress. Other health-supporting effects of jiaogulan are increased cardiac out-put, better oxygen utilization, faster recovery from exercise, regulation of cholesterol or lipid metabolism, and liver protection (in vitro).

There have been numerous research studies that demonstrate jiaogulan's potential as an antioxidant. Experimental and clinical studies have shown that jiaogulan strengthened the antioxidant defenses of the body by inducing the synthesis of the antioxidant enzyme, super-oxide dismutase (SOD) and the scavenging of free radicals. Thus, jiaogulan has been shown to be conducive to the prevention of carcinogenesis (the production of cancer); prevention and treatment of stroke, heart attack, and various other diseases such as atherosclerosis and liver disease; and prevention of premature aging as well. Not only is jiaogulan an antioxidant, but more importantly, research has shown that jiaogulan induces the body's synthesis of SOD. This is what makes jiaogulan extremely effective against free radicals.

A Guiyang Medical College study showed that with the increase of age there was a proportionate decrease in the production of SOD. Therefore, the inducing of endogenous (naturally produced by the body) SOD, particularly as we age, is extremely important. Helping the body to increase its own production of SOD is more significant than taking an SOD supplement, since scientists have noted that SOD, when administered orally (exogenously) is disintegrated in the gastrointestinal tract. And even if the intestinal wall absorbed some SOD molecules, they would be rejected by the immune system. Therefore, the stimulation of one's own endogenous SOD is what makes jiaogulan so effective for maintaining good health (and for faster recovery after sports or intense activity).

Extensive laboratory, animal and human research have proven jiaogulan to have many beneficial, preventive, and therapeutic effects on humans. Jiaogulan products can be found at Chinese herb shops or by mail order.

Article copyright Measurements & Data Corporation.


By Michael Blumert

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Herbal Heart Defender

This Asian remedy boosts energy too

Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum) is a remarkable herb that targets the key components of heart disease. Its compounds sweep up free radicals (unstable molecules that damage or destroy healthy cells), reduce pressure within the blood vessels, and lower the production of bad LDL cholesterol.

As if that wasn't enough to make it an impressive heart herb, jiaogulan (pronounced gee-ow-goo-lahn) also helps deal with the effects of stress, which can be a major element in the development of heart disease. Jiaogulan and other adaptogens like it make the body more resistant to stress.

As a bonus, this herb increases energy levels. But unlike stimulants that may actually damage blood vessels, jiaogulan makes the cardiovascular system stronger while increasing your get-up-and-go.

Dosage: Take three 200-mg jiaogulan tablets once a day.

PHOTO (COLOR): Little black herb pills help ease stress.


By Douglas Schar, DipPhyt, MCPP, MNIMH