Gynostemma (Jiao Gu Lan)
Botanical Name: Gynostemma pentaphyllum
Gynostemma is a premier adaptogenic herb. It is often used as a substitute for ginseng. In fact it has been confirmed that it contains more than double the healing saponins that ginseng contains. It is often called ginseng on steroids. It boosts immunity, supports heart health, and improves central and peripheral nervous system function. It is considered possibly the world’s finest longevity herb.
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Below is an overview of gynostemma, combining the best of Western Science, Oriental Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore, and a wide range of healing modalities. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of gynostemma.
How to take FULL advantage of Gynostemma's healing powers...
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Western Name: Gynostemma
Also Known As: Southern Ginseng
Organs/Systems: Immune, Digestive, Reproductive, Cardiovascular, Respiratory
Key Actions: Adaptogen, Stimulant, Anti-aging, Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory, Antitussive, Detoxifying, Mild Sedative, Analgesic, Anticancer
Medicinal Uses: Counters stress, supports immune function, builds stamina and endurance, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, improves heart function and memory, prevents hair loss, treats coughs, chronic bronchitis, gastritis, constipation, obesity, cancer, diabetes, insomnia, backache, stomach ulcers, pain.
Pin Yin: Jiao Gu Lan
Also Known As: Jiaogulan, Jiao Chu Lan, Immortality Herb, Southern Ginseng, Five-Leaf Ginseng, Poor Man’s Ginseng, Miracle Grass, Fairy Herb, Makino, Sweet Tea Vine
Meridians: Heart, Lung, Spleen, Kidney, Liver
Key Actions: Tonifies Yin, Supports Yang, Tonifies Qi, Clears Heat and Toxins, Relieves Coughs, Moistens the Lungs, Eliminates Phlegm, Tonifies Jing (Essence)
Medicinal Uses: Chronic bronchitis, cough, remove sputum, weight control, cancer, chronic hepatitis B, jaundice, asthma, hypertension, insomnia, restlessness, dizziness, digestive cancers, cirrhosis, diabetes, peptic ulcers, pneumonia, intercostal neuralgia, depression, fertility, builds stamina and endurance, boosts immunity, balances hormones, improves glucose metabolism, re-establishes homeostasis at high altitudes.
Gynostemma is a dioecious, herbaceous climbing vine of the Cucurbitaceae family (that includes gourds and cucumbers). Its serrated leaflets commonly grow in groups of five, although some species have groups of three or seven leaflets. There are 17 species of Gynostemma.
Nine species are native to the mountainous regions of South Central China, South and East Asia, and New Guinea.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Leaf, Root
Flavors/Temps: Sweet, Slightly Bitter, Neutral to Cold
Caution: Considered safe, it is not recommended for pregnant women.
Key Constituents: Saponins (gypenosides), Sterol, Actiponin, Flavonoids, Chlorophyll, Polysaccharides, Vitamins, Enzymes, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zin
History/Folklore: Gynostemma is a more recent addition to Traditional Chinese Medicine. It was first mentioned in 1406 CE by Zhu Xiao who recommended it as a survival food. In 1578 it was identified by Li Shizhen in his Compendium of Materia Medica, as a medicine for treating edema, tumors, and trauma. It is considered a Yin tonic with Yang supporting properties, able to Clear Heat without causing Stagnation. It demonstrates biphasic effects, the ability to calm or stimulate the brain depending on the body’s needs.
The local people of the mountainous regions of southern China and northern Vietnam, who were familiar with gynostemma, called it the immortality herb as a large number of people who lived to be over 100 years old reported consuming it regularly instead of green tea. They used the tea in the morning to energize and a cup in the evening to unwind, relax, and promote sleep.
Modern research from 1970 studied gynostemma as a possible sugar substitute. However, as the research continued it was confirmed that it contains several saponins (gypenosides) similar or identical to ginseng. It is now sometimes used instead of ginseng.
Research on this important herb is still in the preliminary stages, but important findings are already starting to emerge. Gynostemma is known to contain over 174 different gypenosides compared to the 28 found in ginseng. It is sometimes called ginseng on steroids.
The saponins in gynostemma exert a regulatory effect on the body. They bring a range of biological systems including the nervous, immune, endocrine, and reproductive systems into balance. The rebalancing supports the body’s natural ability to respond to internal and external stress.
A study by Vanderbilt University found that one of the saponins found in gynostemma facilitates the release of nitric oxide in the blood vessels. This causes them to relax, permitting increased blood flood and thereby lowering high blood pressure. The same study indicates that gynostemma may also have blood thinning properties reducing the buildup of blood platelets and reducing the buildup of plaque.
Studies have shown gynostemma increases the production of lymphocytes, phagocytes, and serum IgG, but not to excess, all of which supports a healthy immune system response.
Evidence has also been found that indicates Gynostemma’s ability to promote AMPK, a molecule that acts as a “master switch” for metabolism. It turns up the processes in cells and mitochondria to enhance the conversion of food into energy. This action supports healthy aging and cellular function.
Gynostemma contains an extract known as actiponin. This extract helps to increase weight loss, reduce abdominal fat, and improve body mass index.
Combinations of compounds found in gynostemma appear to stop DNA from being degraded and broken down too quickly. It has been found to stop and even reverse the process of erosion of telomeres. Telomeres are the ‘end caps’ on string DNA and the remaining length of telomeres is a major factor governing a person’s life span. The effects of gynostemma on telomeres may make it one of the most powerfully known longevity substances available.
Gynostemma further supports brain function by regulating nitric oxide, a key player in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control – it is often called Lou Gehrig’s disease).
A 2011 animal study found that a combination of gynostemma, coptis (LINK), and red sage (LINK) worked synergistically to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, improve glucose tolerance and obesity-related insulin resistance, helping to inhibit metabolic syndrome (a combination of symptoms that include cardiac risk factors, diabetic symptoms, and obesity issues).
Gynostemma exhibits properties that support the gastrointestinal tract and kidneys. One study showed a significant reduction in gastric and intestinal toxicity by using gynostemma. Three studies in China have shown gynostemma increases renal function. Used over a period of 3-6 months, it appears to repair glomerular apparatus and increase glomerular filtration.
Gynostemma contains over 174 different gypenosides, 9 of which are also found in Panax ginseng. A few of these compounds are also similar to those found in astragalus.
Native to Southern China, and because several of the gypenosides found in gynostemma are similar to the panaxosides (also known as ginsenosides) found in ginseng, for this reason gynostemma is known as “southern ginseng.”
Strength and Stamina
Athlete’s report improved appetites and an increase in lean muscle. Studies have shown it increases strength and endurance.
How to use Gynostemma (Jiao Gu Lan) and take FULL advantage of it's healing powers!
Find out how to safely use this powerful herb and get specific recipes you can make use of immediately. Dive deep into Eastern and Western perspectives about HOW and WHY this herb works. Includes uses, benefits, essential oils, gardening tips, and much, much more.
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