Category Archives: Jiaogulan and Aging

This section is for discussions about the role jiaogulan might play in combating the effects of aging.

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 Scavenge Free Radicals and Fights Bacteria

Suhua Zhu, Chengxiang Fang, Shiqiao Zhu, Fang Peng, Luozhen Zhang, Chengpeng Fan, Inhibitory Effects of Gynostemma Pentaphyllum on the UV Induction of Bacteriophage 5 in Lysogenic Escherichia coli. Current Microbiology. Aug. 2001.

In this study at Wuhan University in China they examined the effect of Jiaogulan on the growth of bacteriophages (viruses that attack bacteria, e-coli and cholera are both examples). They found that Jiaogulan did inhibit the growth of the bactriophages. They also found through Magnetic Resonance Imaging that Jiaogulan was an effective scavenger of free radicals.

Jiaogulan Found to Increase SOD in Seniors an Average of 282%

Liu, Jialiu, et al. Effects of gypenosides-containing tonics on the serum SOD activity and MDA content in middle aged persons. Journal of Guiyang Medical College. 1994.

Dr. Liu, the world’s foremost expert on Jiaogulan, gave gypenosides (the active ingredient in Jiaogulan) to 610 healthy patients ages 50 to 90. They received the gypenosides for one month. Those patients between 70 and 90 years of age averaged a decrease in harmful oxidants of 21.4% and an average increase in the internally produced anti-oxidant SOD of 282.8%. Those patients in the age group 50 to 69 had a decrease in harmful oxidants averaging 15.6% and SOD increases of 116.1%. A control group did not experience any change thus suggesting the effects were due to the gypenosides.

Jiaogulan Reduces Free Radicals in the Liver

Cheng, Y.H. et al. The effect of antioxidant Chinese herbs on SOD activity, MDA content and ultra-structural damage of the kidney tissue in mice with chronic fluorosis. Guizhou Medical Journal. China. 1998.

Dr. Cheng found a similar result to Dr. Dai sited above when he studied the the kidney cells of mice with chronic fluorosis. the mice had reduced presence of free radicals and increased presence of internally produced anti-oxidants.

Jiaogulan Destroys Oxidants in the Brain

Dai, D.Y. et al. The effect of antioxidant Chinese herbs on SOD activity, MDA content and ultra-structural damage to brain tissue in mice with chronic fluorosis. Chinese Journal of Endemic Diseases. China. 1998.

Dr. Dai and his team studied the effects of Jiaogulan on the brain cells of mice with chronic fluorosis. Chronic fluorosis is a toxic overdose of fluoride and us often used by scientists to induce oxidative stress on test subjects. They found that Jiaogulan reduced the signs or per-oxidation (oxidative damage) and increased the presence of Super-Oxide Dismutase, a powerful internally produced anti-oxidant. This suggested to the researchers that Jiaogulan might be a powerful source of antioxidants because it appears to stimulate the bodies own production of antioxidants. This is a more effective method than ingestion of antioxidants.

Jiaogulan Reduces Oxidative Stress

Li, Lin, et al. Protective effect of Gypenosides against oxidative stress in phagocytes, vascular endothelial cells, and liver microsomes. Loma Linda University, California. 1993.

In this study, researchers at Loma Linda University in California studied the antioxidant effects of Gypenosides (substances derived from Jiaogulan) on white blood cells, liver cells and the cells that line blood vessels. They found that gypenosides significantly reduced the presence of oxidants in these cells types and protected the cells from oxidative stress. they also found that gypenosides counteracted the effects of oxidative stress on the function of liver cells and blood vessels cells.

Jiaogulan Is The Immortality Herb

Guangxi Ribao (Guanxi Daily News) March 4, 1972.

This story from a popular Chinese newspaper reports on a study in the 1970s. The Chinese government asked scientists to research the unusually large number of centagenarians in the small mountain provinces of Guizhou, Guangxi and Shicuan . In addition to unusual longevity the researchers found low incidences of many common ailments associated with aging including, diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s and cancer. After over 10 years of study they found one common thread, a plant the locals called “xiancao” the “immortality” plant. The villagers drank it several times a day simply because it tasted good and is naturally sweet. The researchers identified the plant as Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum).

Free radicals are one of the primary causes of aging. Anti-oxidants have been found to eliminate free radicals from the body. See our anti-oxidant link regarding research on Jiaogulan and anti-oxidants.