Category Archives: Jiaogulan and Your Health

This section of the site is for discussions about the health benefits of the herb jiaogulan.

Top 5 Reasons to Try Jiaogulan

What are the secrets to a long, healthy life?

Scientists, researchers, and medical specialists search for such secrets all over the world. However, ancient cultures have already found their own secrets to good health – and closely guarded them for centuries.

One of these secrets is the little known herb jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum), a plant native to China and similar to ginseng.

Also called “herb of immortality,” it was put on the map when regular drinkers of jiaogulan tea in southern China were observed living to unusually long ages – and in great health!

Today, this ancient herbal tea is still used as a powerful remedy and health tonic, drawing from its traditional use by modern herbalists and those of the past.

Like its name, can the herb really grant immortality?

In this day and age, it brings those who enjoy this tea the closest thing to it: excellent health, robust protection against chronic disease, and so much more.

This is evident not only in its longstanding reputation for extending life, but in many studies that have unlocked its proven longevity-granting powers. In fact, jiaogulan has at least 5 confirmed impacts on health that could change your health (and your life!) if you drank the tea every day – while more discoveries are researched every day.

We’ve explored 5 of the very best and well-researched health benefits of jiaogulan, just to show you why you must absolutely give this powerful herbal remedy of old a try for yourself.

Powerful Immune Booster and Adaptogen

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Jiaogulan over the years has earned itself another nickname besides the herb of immortality: southern ginseng, or cheap ginseng.

Like the true Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) also reputed to extend life, jiaogulan boosts immunity as a gateway to tonifying health and increasing longevity. Both ginseng and jiaogulan are considered “adaptogens:” plants rich in phytochemicals that protect the body from stress, damage, and disease, while boosting the immune system.

Because ginseng is used extensively but is expensive in price (and is ecologically threatened), our herb of immortality has been and is still used as a cheaper, environmentally aware replacement for ginseng due to its adaptogenic, immune-stimulating effects.

In fact, jiaogulan happens to contain wondrous adaptogenic phytochemicals called ginsenosides, once thought to be present only in ginseng but found aplenty in this Chinese tea as well.

While its effects are nowhere near as researched nor as potent as ginseng, trials pointedly demonstrate similar immune-enhancing effects that bolster health, contribute to longevity, and protect against chronic disease – particularly diabetes.

Ever wanted to try ginseng as a tonic? Instead, try jiaogulan: it has the same phytochemicals and health effects, while being more affordable and environmentally stable.

Regulates Blood Sugars

diabetes find causes and sceen for symptoms of type 1 or 2 prevention by dieting or treath with medication or low fat and sugar free diet

Next to its ginseng comparisons, jiaolugan has also been dubbed the “ginseng for diabetics.”

In addition to being a general immune stimulator and protector against disease, this ancient Chinese herb also has some specific impacts on blood sugars and glucose control. All these effects could be an incredibly useful preventive for diabetics, beyond being a general health tonic.

Jiaogulan’s saponins (including its very own ginseng-like ginsenosides and gypenosides) were observed reducing carbohydrate absorption in trials. They also protect the pancreas, increase the secretion of insulin, and preserve the functions of insulin receptors in the body, which naturally helps increase sensitivity and uptake of insulin – thus reducing high blood sugar counts in diabetics.

Worried about blood sugars and diet? Give jiaogulan a try to put your mind at ease. Even today, it’s used as an adjunct therapy for insulin resistance and diabetes, with strong evidence supporting its use.

Stimulates Antioxidant Activity

Jiaogulan protects health with adaptogenic and immune-boosting properties, though it apparently has some antioxidant action as well.

Before you start thinking of it like acai berry, green tea or even chocolate, think again! Jiaogulan is not exactly a source of antioxidants in and of itself, like these widely popular foods.

Rather, it stimulates the body’s own anti-oxidizing capabilities to work for themselves. That’s right: trials observed an extract of the immortality herb stimulating the body to produce more glutathione amounts, without a single supporting supplement of glutathione needed.

Such effects have far-reaching implications. Damage to DNA, neurons, even heart and skeletal tissue were observed, showing that this ancient tea could protect and even repair the body from oxidative stress and diseases of all kinds.

Lowers Blood Pressure

blood-pressure

As it turns out, jiaogulan has a particular affinity to the cardiovascular system. Trying out the herb of immortality could do some amazing favors for your heart, and especially blood pressure.

Studies in vitro show that the Chinese herb encourages the body to produce its own nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels, assists blood flow, reduces hypertension, and reduces the chance of heart disease.

Try a little jiaogulan tea if you are worried about your heart health – plus, its anti-oxidative activity and other health effects can’t hurt as added benefits!

Lowers Cholesterol

cholesterol-plaque

More good news for the heart: saponins in the tea may very well have a cholesterol-reducing effect.

One trial showed a 22% drop in LDL levels (bad cholesterol), while HDL (good cholesterol) remained unchanged. This bodes well for heart health, reducing the chances for hypertension, heart disease, atherosclerosis, and many other connected health problems besides.

Looking for a natural way to manage your cholesterol? Jiaogulan may help.

Beyond lowering cholesterol, this health benefit isn’t the only reason you should give the herb a try for better health.

Jiaogulan also protects your body from stress and disease, heals the heart, combats diabetes – and will get you the closest to immortality you can get!

 

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How Jiaogulan Helps Prevent Aging and Illness

antioxJiaogulan ( gynostemma pentaphyllum) is a very unique herb which can have many positive effects on our health and will even help us to prevent aging. Many factors play a role when it comes to aging, and scientists are just beginning to appreciate that infections caused by viruses have a huge impact on aging and our general well-being. Pharmaceutical companies around the world are spending millions of dollars researching the relationship between aging and viruses

If, we can prevent infections, and boost our immune systems, we will age at a slower pace and live healthier lives. Often in the fight against infections caused by viruses and bacteria, we employ a spectrum of antibiotics or virus suppressing drugs. HIV is a perfect example of a virus which is suppressed by drugs and we treat the most common throat infections with a plethora of antibiotics. But, shouldn’t we really be asking ourselves if we are taking the right approach, and shouldn’t we be boosting our immune systems instead. Perhaps, it is time to turn to nature to help us provide a permanent solution which would allow us to focus on prevention rather than cure.

Understanding Viral Infections

Doctors often talk about that viruses can be difficult to detect. It is true and has to do with the way they reproduce. A virus is not a cell in its own right, it is a genetic code which uses our cells to reproduce.

A virus can invade a cell and not start to reproduce straight away. HIV and herpes are perfect examples of this process. They can lay dormant in a cell for a long time, and all of a sudden as the cell starts to reproduce, they switch on and start to copy their genetic code.

The virus genetic code becomes part of the host cell, and the cell now reproduces with the new genetic information. It is called the lysogenic cycle and the cells are referred to as lysogenic cells. In other words, they are cells that contain a genetic virus code and behave differently than other cells. They are reproducing complete with their original code PLUS the viral genetic code.

But viral infections do not age us, do they?

Yes, they do and we know that viruses are probably behind many diseases such as cancer and heart disease. We already know that some cancers are caused by viruses, and scientists are trying to ascertain how many more types of cancers are experienced as a result of viruses.

Some of the most common cancers such as cervical cancer are caused by one or more of 150 virus strains belonging to the Human papilloma viruses ( HPVs). Even the common Epstein Barr virus is now being linked to some stomach cancers.

However, we are not sure what switches these viruses on and what makes them turn a cell into a cancer cell.

Viruses also cause other problems which are associated with aging such as heart disease and liver health problems. Scientists even suspect that many of the other signs of aging such as eye sight problems and wrinkles may be caused by viruses.

The problem is that there are millions of viruses, and one group of virus may be made up out of thousands of virus offsprings (strains) and mutated viruses. We need to learn a lot more about viruses and what makes them mutate to lead to disease and aging.

Free Radicals and Viruses

Free radicals are atoms, or groups of atoms, with one unpaired electron or more. These electrons are always looking for a friend to pair up with and they can by doing so, cause cellular damage or damage to DNA.

This may sound very complicated, but it simply means that they may have the ability to switch on a dangerous invasive virus, or cause a harmless bacteria to act differently. This is what many scientists believe cause viruses to start to behave differently and become dangerous.

The body has its own range of weapons against free radicals called antioxidants, but we can also eat foods and use herbs to increase our body’s range of weapons against free radicals.

Herbs and Antioxidants

Gynostemma pentaphyllum (Jiaogulan) is very special in terms of it’s antioxidant benefits. Usually, we consume antioxidants in foods. This is why, for example, we are told to drink orange juice when we have a cold. Oranges are rich in antioxidants. However, the reality is that up to 90% of the antioxidants are actually lost during the digestive process.

Gynostemma works differently. Gynostemma stimulates your body to increase production of an enzyme called Super Oxide Dismutase (SOD). SOD is your own body’s most powerful antioxidant. Because it is internally produced, none of the benefit is lost during digestions.

This may explain why gynostemma has been used for many thousands of years in Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM) to combat different types of diseases. In recent studies Chinese scientists have discovered that Jiaogulan can boost a cell’s immune defense system by inhibiting a virus coping its genetic code. The rate of inhibition, rate of genetic copy, was reduced by 70% giving the body’s own system of antioxidants more of a chance to fight the virus and reduce the amount of free radicals.

How Can This Help Me to Prevent Disease?

All this talk about viruses, free radicals and antioxidants can sound like something for the ears of scientists only, but the way it works is very straight forward. If, the cells in our bodies can copy their genetic material without the interference of viruses and free radicals, they would be able to do so in a much better way.

It would result in better and healthier cells which would be less likely to carry any type of genetic material that can potentially cause disease and aging. We would have a much better chance to fight off infections and therefore live longer. The best way to explain it, would be that we would consist of better copied material which would be stronger and more disease resistant.

We should not try to suppress our immune system in all cases. Most of the time we should boost our immune system to help us fight of viruses, bacteria and free radicals. Hidden or “sneaked in” viruses cause a lot of the health problems we face today. By a herb such as Gynostemma, we can help our bodies to boost its defense system and help us to live both longer and healthier lives. Adding Gynostemma to your health routine would allow you to prevent disease rather than cure it.

Jiaogulan: The Life Endurance Herb – Transform Your Health with Jiaogulan

enduranceLife is a voyage of endurance, and our health is our most important traveling companion. It will help to support all our adventures and things that we would like to experience. But, what can support our health, and help us to endure the many things life can throw at us?

 In today’s modern concept of 24 hour medicine we expect our modern healers, medical doctors, to fix all our medical problems with conventional treatments within a 24 hour period. However, we need to ask ourselves if the answer to many of our health problems can be found in nature.

 Jiaogulan – the Herbal alternative

 Jiaogulan ( Gynostemma pentaphyllum) is often called the Miracle herb but perhaps a better name would be the Endurance herb. This humble Chinese herb is commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat a range of conditions, and can help to support our bodies to increase both our endurance and resistance against disease.

 The active ingredients in Jiaogulan will not only help our bodies to breakdown cholesterol more effectively but it can also help us to ward off dementia related conditions.

 In China it is known that people who drink Jiaogulan tea live longer and suffer less from health conditions such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and even Alzheimer’s. Modern day research attributes the health giving affects of this humble vine to the plethora of saponins and antioxidants which are contained within the plant.

 The Energy Factor

 The approach of Western medicine is very different from TCM ( Traditional Chinese Medicine). Conventional treatments often focus on treating a condition whilst many traditional Chinese natural remedies focus on preventing the health problem to occur in the first place.

 The importance of energy, and balance of energy, has long been recognized in TCM. Our own Western medicine is only now beginning to recognize the importance of energy in healing and preventing illnesses. When we improve our energy levels, our bodies can fight off and endure illnesses much better. The end result is life extension and longevity, the true meaning of endurance.

 The number one killers are still circulatory disorders, diabetes and dementia related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is directly related to energy as sufferers will have lower levels of dopamine in the brain. A well balanced dopamine level will help to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and allow our brains to stay healthier for longer. When the brain’s dopamine level is well balanced, our overall health will improve and we will notice our memory will function better.

 We often forget that brain health and memory function are two of the most important indicators of health. Without dopamine and energy we would not be able to endure many of the tasks that we face on an everyday basis.

 The Active Ingredients

 What makes Jiaogulan so special? Chinese researcher have started to breakdown and prove the affects of the many active ingredients within Jiaogulan. Recent research carried out in China using crude Polysaccharides extracted from Jiaogulan proved to increase an endurance whilst exercising and improved recovery time.

 But what are crude Polysaccharides? Crude Polysaccharides are powerful antioxidants that can be found in fruit bearing plants, algae but Jiaogulan is richer in these antioxidants than any other plant or herb. They can help to fight of inflammation, support our cells to produce more energy.

 When our cells are encouraged to produce more energy, they will divide at a more balanced pattern which means that the likelihood of rogue cells such as cancer cells occurring decrease. This will increase our bodies resistant to disease and at the same time increase our endurance.

 In other words, the more energy our cells are able to produce, the longer we will stay healthy and our lifespan will be increased. If, a sport person took capsules, or was injected with, crude Polysaccharides, he would be able to run or swim for longer.

 The Evidence

 Chinese researchers have proved this theory by feeding crude Polysaccharides to rats for a period of 30 days. The control group consisted of ten rates out of which five were fed the substance in accordance to body weight.

 After 30 days the group was subjected to a swimming test. The five rats who had been fed the crude Polysaccharides were able to swim for a longer period of time, and also recovered quicker. All ten rats were also given liver glycogen tests which showed increased levels of liver glycogen in the crude Polysaccharides fed rats.

 This test proves that energy storage was increased and at the same time the rats were able to expand more energy. To further explain the result, it is worthwhile to point out our bodies store energy as fat and glycogen. On this occasion the energy expanded was derived from glycogen.

 Who should be using Jiaogulan as a supplement?

 The honest answer is that we all should. This herb is many times stronger and more effective than Ginseng, and ongoing research indicates that it can provide the first line of defense against many diseases.

 It will help us to better endure anything that may afflict us by increasing the body’s energy levels naturally. When our bodies have enough energy, they can fight off many of the diseases that we associate with modern day life.

 This is what makes Jiaogulan so effective when it comes to combating diabetes, balancing cholesterol, reducing heart disease and increasing the brain’s dopamine levels to ward off Alzheimer’s.

 Different Forms of Jiaogulan

 There are different forms of treatment quality Jiaogulan available, but it is important that what ever form you use is derived from organic Jiaogulan. Not only is this more effective but it is also less likely to have been affected by pollutants such as heavy metals.

 Jiaogulan tea is widely available, and can be bought online plus in Chinese stores. In China a product called tea-pills are also available, and they are fine for long term used.

 Here in the West we can also find Jiaogulan available in capsule format which will allows you to control the dosage more effectively.

 Jiaogulan should not at any time be seen as a “one off treatment.” As it is not associated with any harmful side effects, it can be used on an everyday basis no matter how old or young you are. Can it improve and strengthen your health? Anything that increases our energy levels to further our endurance can improve and strengthen our health, however, Jiaogulan does so more effectively.

Jiaogulan – Weight Loss Miracle or Another Broken Promise ?

Separating the facts from the hype

lose_weightWeight loss seekers are greeted nearly monthly with another herbal weight loss formula. Early last year White Mulberry Leaf was all the rage only to be overtaken by Garcinia cambogia late in the year.

Recently, followers of the weight loss scene have been bombarded with news about a previously little known herb from China called Jiaogulan. Today we try to sort out fact from fiction about this latest weight loss phenomenon.

For help, we turned to long time Jiaogulan enthusiast, Ralph Kenney. Kenney founded a company 11 years ago with the primary purpose of introducing Jiaogulan to the West. His company, Immortalitea, has participated in multiple scientific studies on the effectiveness of jiaogulan, As a former Bell Labs researcher, Kenney is familiar on the herbal medicine scene for his science-based approach to Traditional Chinese Medicine.

After more than a decade of promoting jiaogulan you must be a bit surprised by the sudden prominence of Jiaogulan?

Kenney – Of course, surprised, gratified and worried. Jiaogulan is an herb a lot more people should know about and make part of the routines. It feels like a sort of vindication to see all this sudden interest. On the other hand, I’m worried because the area of herbal medicine where there is the most disinformation is weight loss.

People tend to jump on the latest fad and if they don’t see instant results they move on to the next big thing and last month’s super-food is back to obscurity. I don’t want that happen to jiaogulan. It is about so much more than weight loss.

So why all the sudden new interest?

Kenney – It primarily stems from a Korean weight loss study in January of last year. It was one of the first human studies of Jiaogulan and weight loss. It appears to be a commercially sponsored study so I assume the sponsors were primed to promote the findings.

The actual study is relatively small and fairly short-lived. The entire test group was just 80 people and they were split into two groups of 40, a placebo group and a jiaogulan group. They study was 12 weeks. The jiaogulan group lost an average of about 3 lbs., improved their BMI, improved their waist and hips size and had lower cholesterol.

That all sounds pretty promising…

Kenney – Yes, promising is the right word. It’s a small study, small enough that you can’t say anything definitive except that it warrants more research. But, the findings are consistent with what I expected. I designed a weight loss tea blend that included jiaogulan several years ago. Based on that experience, I personally think that when larger studies are done we’ll see similar results. But, what I “think” isn’t important. The research is what counts.

One of the more important findings was the bit about cholesterol. There have been many Chinese studies of Jiaogulan and its benefits for lowering cholesterol. I think the validation of that research in a human study that is bigger news than the weight loss.

Do we know why the participants lost weight taking jiaogulan?

The authors of the study point to the stimulation of an enzyme called AMPK. AMPK serves as a sort of metabolic regulator. There are prior studies that link genetic problems with AMPK production to obesity and diabetes.

The authors of this study had prior research that showed in lab tests saponins in jiaogulan stimulate AMPK. This new study was a follow up to see if that lab result could be confirmed in human population.

Interestingly, they were not able to measure AMPK levels directly. So their case for AMPK stimulation is not as strong as I’d like. We know from other research that there are many active ingredients in jiaogulan. We can’t conclude from this study that the weight loss seen was the result of AMPK stimulation or some other mechanism.

We can say that in lab tests some components of jiaogulan stimulate AMPK. We can say that AMPK is important to weight loss. And, now with this new study, we can say that jiaogulan seems to produce weight loss in humans. But there’s a jump to conclude that the sole mechanism at work in the human study was AMPK activation. I tend to suspect that there are synergistic mechanism at play here.

For example, the study identified no difference in caloric intake between the two groups. One sign of improved AMPK activity should be a reduced appetite. That does not seem tot be the case here.

We know, among other things, that jiaogulan stimulates improved blood flow through increased Nitric oxide production. That has also been linked to weight loss.

The study seems to confirm that jiaogulan is beneficial to weight loss. But the jury is still out regarding the mechanism.

So what’s next for jiaogulan?

Kenney – I’m hopeful there will be more widespread interest in researching jiaogulan. When I see a commercially sponsored study I’m naturally skeptical. So, I’d like to see some neutral research. I’m not criticizing the authors. I’m sure they are sincere in their findings, but commercial research is what it is.

Meanwhile, supplement retailers are not waiting. There are already several large supplement companies out with jiaogulan based weight loss products. We are in for the inevitable waves of hype and promotion. I just hope that when the smoke clears there will be a core population consuming jiaogulan regularly, not just for the weight loss benefits but for all the other health benefits as well.

You mentioned other health benefits earlier. Briefly, what are those?

Kenney – Jiaogulan is known in China as “The Immortality Herb,” that’s the reason my company is called Immortalitea. Besides weight loss there are three main benefits, cardio-vascular health – including lowering cholesterol and reducing blood pressure, immune system and anti-aging benefits – jiaogulan also stimulates an enzyme called SOD that is a powerful anti-oxidant and finally, adaptogenic benefits – jiaogulan helps your neuro-endocrine system establish maintain a state of balance.

There are many other benefits, but you said “briefly”. Those are the big three.

Thank you.

To learn more about jiaogulan we recommend  visiting Ralph Kenney’s jiaogulan blog at www.immortalitea.com/store/blog/3-Immortal-Musings.aspx?categories=7

 

 

 

 

 

Jiaogulan is found to resist immune suppression and restore healthy immune systems

Restoration of Electric Footshock-Induced Immunosuppression in Mice by Gynostemma pentaphyllum Components
Sun-A Im, Hyun Sook Choi, Soon Ok Choi, Ki-Hyang Kim, Seungjeong Lee, Bang Yeon Hwang, Myung Koo Lee and Chong Kil Lee*
College of Pharmacy, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju 361-763, Korea
25 June 2012, Molecule

In this study Korean researchers suppressed the immune system of mice using electro-shock. Those animals that had been fed Jiaogulan for one week before the electro-shock did not develop suppressed immune systems while the subjects not receiving Gynostemma did. In a follow up, 1/2 the mice with suppressed immune systems were subsequently fed Jiaogulan and showed faster recovery of their immune systems than the group not receiving Jiaogulan.

Gynostemma Found to Lower Cholesterol and Reduce Liver Damage

R. Qin et al.Protective effects of gypenosides against fatty liver disease induced by high fat and cholesterol diet and alcohol in rats. Archives of Pharmacal Research, Volume 35, number 7 2012

Chinese researchers fed a high fat, high cholesterol diet to rats and caused them to ingest alchohol daily. They kept left one group untreated, gave two groups popular anti-cholesterol medications and gave 3 remaining groups varying dosages of Gynostemma. After 10 weeks, the groups given Gynostemma showed significantly lower LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides. Furthermore test for liver health showed the Gynostemma group also maintained better liver health. The researchers concluded, “These results suggested that gypenosides could prevent liver fatty degeneration in fatty liver disease through modulating lipid metabolism, ameliorating liver dysfunction and reducing oxidative stress. “

Jiaogulan Linked to Nitric Oxide Production in Blood Vessels

Tanner, MA et al. The Direct Release of Nitric Oxide by Gypenosides Derived from the Herb Gynostemma pentaphyllum. Nitric Oxide Oct. 1999.

Dr. Tanner and his team from Vanderbilt University Medical Center investigated the vasorelaxation effects of Jiaogulan. They found that gypenosides from Jiaogulan caused the lining of blood vessels to release nitric oxide.. The nitric oxide release relaxed the blood vessels resulting in more efficient blood flow.

Jiaogulan May Produce Higher Coronary Flow and Lower Heart Rate

Chen, L.F., et al. Comparisons of the effects of Gypenosides and ginsenosides on cardiac function and hemodynamics in dogs. Zhongguo Yaolixue Yu Dulixue Zazhi. China 1990

Dr. Chen and his team studied the effects of jiaogulan and ginseng on the cardiovascular efficiency of dogs. They found that the dogs that received Jiaogulan significantly lowered their systolic and diastolic blood pressure and decreased their total peripheral, brain and coronary blood vessel resistance. Ginseng was found to have a similar but less significant effect.

Jiaogulan Linked to More Efficient Cardio Function

Zhou, Ying-Na et al. Effects of gypensosides-containing tonics on the pulmonary functions in exercise workloads. Journal of Guiyang Medical College. 1993

Researchers at the Guiyang Medical College in China conducted studies of 220 athletes and 30 average subjects using color DOPLER imaging. The study showed that just 30 minutes after receiving a dose of gypenosides, 100% of the test subjects showed positive effects. The effects measured included, increased stroke volume and cardiac output, decreased left ventricular end-systolic diameter and increased left ventricular end-diastolic diameter. The heart rate and blood pressure did not increase. This implies that Jiaogulan improved the efficiency of the pumping action of the heart such that the heart did not have to work as had to produce the same volume of blood flow.

Jiaogulan Linked to Nitric Oxide Production in Blood Vessels!

Tanner, MA et al. The Direct Release of Nitric Oxide by Gypenosides Derived from the Herb Gynostemma pentaphyllum. Nitric Oxide Oct. 1999.

Dr. Tanner and his team from Vanderbilt University Medical Center investigated the vasorelaxation effects of Jiaogulan. They found that gypenosides from Jiaogulan caused the lining of blood vessels to release nitric oxide.. The nitric oxide release relaxed the blood vessels resulting in more efficient blood flow.