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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.

What is Jiaogulan?

What is Jiaogulan?

 Jiaogulan (Latin name: Gynostemma pentaphyllum) is a low-lying
vine from the Cucurbiticeae family of plants. Jiaogulan is indigenous to Southern China but is now cultivated widely throughout Asia, most notably in Thailand and Vietnam.Jiaogulan is produced primarily as an herbal tea and is also available as both whole leaf
and extracted supplement.

Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends Jiaogulan as a general health tonic and in some regions of china it is called Xian Cao (the Immortality Herb) due to its association with longevity and robust health.

The plant first came to the attention of modern researchers
in the 1970’s as a result of China’s first nationwide census. Demographers noted a statistically significant higher percentage of centenarians in two small Southern provinces. The Chinese
government dispatched a team of researchers whom ultimately conducted a ten-year study.The researchers attributed the unusual longevity in those areas to the regular traditional consumption of jiaogulan tea in those areas. Following these findings,  Dr. Jialiu Liu of Guiyang Medical College conducted extensive research including human clinical studies into the plant. His research identified active ingredients in Jiaouglan that provided a broad range of health benefits, including, cardiovascular health, improved immune systems, protection from and faster recovery from oxidative stress, cancer protection and improved blood flow
resulting in better mentation and organ health. Dr. Lu authored a book with American researcher Michael Blumert extolling jiaogulan as the Herb of Immortality.

Jiaogulan was also the subject of extensive research in the 1980’s by Japanese researchers who, noting the natural sweetness of jiaogulan, hoped jiaogulan could be developed as a natural sweetener. While the project was unfruitful, Japanese researchers also compiled an impressive list of provenhealth benefits.

Today herbalists recommend jiaogulan for three main health
benefits.

1) Put your body in
the optimal state of balance –

Adaptogens are a class of herbs identified by herbalists as helping the human body maintain a state of “homeostasis”, i.e. balance. The mechanisms vary from herb to herb but primarily adaptogens work by supporting the neuroendocrine system. The neuroendocrine system is the combined systems of hormones and nervous system. Modern researchers have proclaimed jiaogulan the world’s most potent adaptogen. One theory is jiaogulan’s stimulation of Nitric
Oxide production improves the overall function of the neuroendocrine system

2) Reduce blood pressure
and improve cardiovascular health
– Chinese research has proven that jiaogulan stimulates the human body to increase production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a natural vasodilator. Increased vascular size makes it easier for the heart to pump blood throughout the body and reduces blood pressure. The increased blood flow also mitigates the  harm from arterial build up due to arteriosclerosis.

Jiaogulan also reduces cholesterol. Since high cholesterol is the number one cause of clogged arteries, there is a double benefit to cardiovascular health. Blood vessels are less likely to develop obstructions and, when they do occur, the impact is mitigated by increased blood vessel size.

Increased Nitric oxide production is also the reason jiaogulan is popular with endurance athletes. The increased blood vessel size increases oxygen flow which directly result sin greater endurance. This increased blood flow is also believed beneficial to sufferers of Erectile Dysfunction and to improved mentation in the elderly.

3) Fight the effects
of aging and strengthen the immune system –
Most people have read about the
health benefits of antioxidants. One can hardly visit the grocery store without being bombarded by marketing messages on products touting their high antioxidant content. Marketers have gone so far as to co-op a formerly scientific measure of antioxidant called the ORAC scale. ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. It is a measure of the anti-oxidant levels in a food. Marketers engage in heated debate over whose product as the higher ORAC value.

But the reality is that most of the health benefit of antioxidants consumed in food is wasted. When we digest food only a small
percentage of the antioxidants present actually survive the digestive process and enter the blood stream where they can be distributed throughout the body and help destroy free radicals and boost the immune system.

However, there is a solution. The human body does produce
it’s own natural antioxidants, two enzymes Super-Oxide Dismutase (SOD for short) and catalase.

These internally produced antioxidants are crucial to all
animal life as they are the main mechanism of cleansing and protecting the body from free-radicals created during the metabolization of foods. Increased productions of these
internally produced antioxidants is far more effective than consumption of antioxidants because the internally produced antioxidants to not undergo digestion and are therefore 100% bioavailable.

Research proves jiaogulan increases SOD production in
humans. Researchers speculate this is the primary reason the herb is so strongly associated with longevity is Traditional Chinese Medicine. There has also been substantial research in Canada using jiaogulan to support the compromised immune systems of chemotherapy patients. This improved immunity has resulted in jiaogulan’s popularity as a immune support supplement during cold
and flu season.

Recent media attention has been focused on jiaogulan for
weight loss. Researchers in Korea have determined that jiaogulan is a potent activator of the AMPK enzyme in humans. AMPK plays a crucial role in the regulation of human metabolism. In one Korean study, obese men were given jiaogulan extract for 14 weeks. The placebo group experienced no significant change. However the jiaogulan group lost an average of 2Kg., saw reduction in their waistlines, improved body mass index and lower cholesterol levels.

Jiaogulan is a perennial and can be harvested throughout the
year. Jiaogulan Tea is produced by a three-stage process. The plant is
harvested and stems removed by hand. The plant is quickly pan dried to form the typical 5 leaf clusters of dried tea and then air dried on raised platforms with forced air. The resulting tea is simultaneously slightly bitter and slightly sweet. The tea is popular in Southern China often consumed as a substitute for tea from Camelia sinensis. Jiaogulan can also be consumed as a supplement,
in extract form, as a tincture and the raw leaves may be added directly to foods.

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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.