What Is Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum)

Jiaogulan is also known as five-leaf ginseng, sweet tea vine, southern ginseng, or Gynostemma pentaphyllum, which is a perennial climbing vine belonging to the family Cucurbitaceae. It first appeared in <Jiuhuang Bencao> (Materia Medica for Relief of Famines) in 1,406 AD.

There are at least 17 species of Gynostemma, which are mainly distributed in tropical Asia, and 9 of them are unique to China. Gynostemma pentaphyllum is the most representative.

The majority of Gypentemma pentaphyllum is wild and distributed in China, India, Bangladesh, Japan, Korea, New Guinea. It likes a mild and humid climate and often grows in forests, bushes or roadsides on hillsides at 300-3,200 meters above sea level.

Earlier Jiaogulan was used in folk medicine as herbal tea, alcohol extract or dietary supplement. In 1986, it was considered as a valuable Chinese medicinal material to be developed by the Chinese Science and Technology Commission. In 2002, it was included in health products by the Chinese Ministry of Health.

In summer and autumn each year, people pick all parts of Gynostemma pentaphyllum, remove their impurities, wash them with water, dry them in the sun, and make them into Chinese herbs.

Jiaogulan contains more than 80 saponins, 6 of which are similar to ginsenosides. In addition, it also contains flavonoids, sugars, vitamin C, 18 amino acids and a variety of inorganic elements.

According to <Jiuhuang Bencao>, the medicinal property of Jiaogulan is relatively cold, with a slightly sweet and bitter taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the spleen and lung meridians.

In the last 30 years, Jiaogulan has been widely used to benefit qi and nourish the spleen, resolve phlegm and relieve cough, clear heat and remove toxin, treat leukopenia, hyperlipidemia, viral hepatitis, chronic gastroenteritis, and chronic bronchitis.

Health benefits of Jiaogulan

  • Anti-cancer, anti-fatigue, and anti-hypoxia.
  • Enhancing non-specific immunity, cellular immunity, and humoral immunity, and having the function of two-way immune regulation.
  • Lowering blood sugar and total cholesterol, increasing the rate of blood protein synthesis in the spleen, testes, and brain.
  • Improving the activity of superoxide dismutase, scavenging oxygen free radicals, delaying aging and eliminating age spots.
  • Reducing the content of lipofuscin in heart, liver and brain cells, improving memory and sleep.
  • Restoring liver detoxification and prompting toxic substances to be excreted through bile or urine.
  • Eliminating excess fat in the liver and blood and balancing fat metabolism.
  • Bidirectional regulation of the central nervous system and having sedative, analgesic and anti-stress effects.
  • Benefiting qi and nourish the spleen, relieving fatigue and loss of appetite caused by qi deficiency.
  • Promoting fluid production, relieving thirst, dry throat and upset caused by the deficiency of both qi and yin.
  • Nourishing yin and moistening the lungs, and treating cough and phlegm caused by dryness-heat in the lungs.
  • Clearing heat, relieving skin ulcers and sore throats caused by heat toxins.
  • Increasing coronary and cerebral blood flow, slowing blood coagulation and preventing atherosclerosis, thrombosis, and myocardial ischemia.
  • Treating thrombocytopenia, chronic headache, chronic atrophic gastritis, peptic ulcer, leukopenia, chronic bronchitis.

Jiaogulan is used with other Chinese herbs

  • It with Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae) and Fu Ling (Poria Cocos) can invigorate the spleen, alleviate fatigue and loss of appetite caused by qi deficiency.
  • It with Chuan Bei Mu (Fritillaria cirrhosa) and Bai He (Bulbus Lilii) can nourish yin and moisten the lungs, treat cough and phlegm caused by dryness-heat in the lungs.
  • It with Ye Jiao Teng (Caulis Polygoni Multiflori) and Mai Dong (Radix Ophiopogonis) can treat palpitations and insomnia caused by qi deficiency or yin deficiency.
  • It with Bai Hua She She Cao (Hedyotis Diffusa), Hai Piao Xiao (Os Sepiae), and Chuan Bei Mu (Fritillaria cirrhosa) to treat gastric and duodenal ulcers.
  • It with Tai Zi Shen (Radix Pseudostellariae), Shan Yao (Rhizoma Dioscoreae), and Nan Sha Shen (Radix Adenophorae) can benefit qi and nourish yin, promote fluid production, relieve thirst, dry throat, and upset caused by the deficiency of both qi and yin.

Side effects of Jiaogulan

Jiaogulan has been included in health products with almost no side effects.

A small number of people taking it may cause nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, dizziness, and tinnitus.

Precautions of Jiaogulan

  • The dosage of Jiaogulan should be controlled at 10-20g.
  • It can be made into decoction, tea or mashed for external use.
  • People with bloating, diarrhea or constipation should not take it.
  • People with hemorrhagic or autoimmune diseases should not take it.
  • Patients should not take it for two weeks before or after surgery.
  • Pregnant and lactating women should not take it.

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