|What is Jiaogulan?|
In the late 1970s, Japanese scientists began discovering jiaogulan's illness-prevention and therapeutic qualities. What they uncovered was an herb very similar in quality to ginseng, yet in some ways superior. They found jiaogulan to function as both an adaptogenic herb and as an antioxidant herb, containing many health-giving saponins (chemical compounds having a soapy characteristic), as well as trace minerals, amino acids, proteins, and vitamins.
Jiaogulan contains a large quantity of these saponins, known also as gypenosides. The structure of the gypenosides is very similar to the panaxosides (also known as ginsenosides) found in ginseng. There are four times as many saponins in jiaogulan as there is in ginseng. Some of those saponins are identical to the panaxosides in ginseng and some of them turn into panaxosides when taken into the body. This results in a greater number of saponins than ginseng, which may translate into a more powerful regulatory effect on a number of bodily systems; like blood pressure, the reproductive system, the digestive system, the immune system, mental functions and more. 1, 2
Scientific research studies in China have shown that jiaogulan decreases cholesterol by improving the liver's ability to send sugar and carbohydrates to the muscles for conversion to energy instead of turning the sugar into triglycerides which the body stores as fat. 3 It lowers LDL's (bad cholesterol) while raising HDL's (good cholesterol). It improves fat metabolism, reduces blood fat levels and depresses lipid peroxide and fat sediment in the blood vessels. 4
While it is great for rectifying high cholesterol and obesity problems, it can also improve and strengthen the digestion, allowing an underweight person to increase absorption of nutrients and gain weight in the form of lean muscle mass. This regulatory effect on bodily functions is the hallmark of an adaptogen. 5
A study at Guiyang Medical College in China has shown that a jiaogulan recipe increased strength and endurance in the body. Considering the above statements overall, jiaogulan becomes the perfect herb for anyone who wants to improve their competitive edge in any field of athletic performance. 6
Adaptogenic functions of jiaogulan
are demonstrated in its biphasic effects on brain functions, which energize or
calm the system depending upon the body’s need. 7 Jiaogulan
also aids the regulation of hormonal functions in both men and women. The
healthy maintenance of these physiological actions plays a major role in the
body's ability to cope with stress. 8 Jiaogulan has also shown
its effectiveness, in clinical research studies, in helping the body resist
depression of the immune system and other stress-related symptoms. It increases
the production of Lymphocytes, Phagocytes and serum IgG, but not to an excess.
LONGEVITY AND CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE: What is all this concern with longevity? Well, maybe we can't live forever, but can we live longer? A few decades ago, people didn't realize how drastically our lifestyle choices influence our health and longevity. Now, science has shown how certain personal behaviors increase our risk of contracting the various Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD), like atherosclerosis, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, etc. Even memory loss has been connected to CVD, especially as a result of hypertension. Besides the natural brain atrophy that occurs as we age, hypertension has been shown to increase brain atrophy. Atherosclerosis, the closing up of the arteries due to arterial plaque and cholesterol build-up, is at the root of these deadly conditions. This process of build-up is thought to start with tiny injuries to the lining of the arteries caused by an imbalance of free radicals vs. the body's natural antioxidant protection. This imbalance or weakness of constitution can happen at any time and has many causes. Improper diet, illness, stress, substance abuse, and pollution are some of the many conditions that cause a proliferation of the free radicals that lead to illness. Atherosclerosis is a condition that develops gradually over time, and the sad thing is that the simple awareness that lifestyle changes made over that period of time could have kept the process of build-up from ever happening. Three major contributing factors to CVD are high cholesterol, hypertension, cigarette smoking, and obesity. High cholesterol seems to be the most significant, as it has a connection with the other two. The main cause of hypertension is due to the excessive build-up of cholesterol in the arteries; and as far as smoking goes, one of its detriments is that it lowers the protective HDL's ("good" cholesterol) that aid in removing the LDL's, "bad" cholesterol, thus encouraging the cholesterol build-up process. Obesity is consistant with a diet rich in bad cholesterols that accumulate in our system. Controlling cholesterol (with the proper diet) before the onset of CVD is, of course, the best approach. A low-fat, low cholesterol diet, along with exercise, stress reduction will decrease plaque deposits gradually. However, there is some herbal supplementation that has been shown to have remarkable effects on cholesterol reduction. More about those herbs later on. What are those personal behaviors to change that will reduce our risk of CVD? As far as diet goes, it is now clear that a low-fat, high-fiber, more vegetarian diet can reduce the occurrence of CVD. Go back to the turn of the century there was a much lower incidence of CVD. There were no sophisticated slaughtering and refrigeration procedures for the meat, dairy and egg industries. Meat was less available. We know that in many underdeveloped countries where people still live on a more natural diet, with less or no red meat, there is a much lower incidence of CVD. These facts say a lot—they confirm the dietary recommendations of many medical researchers, which can be summed up as follows: Decrease cholesterol, total fats, saturated fats and caffeine. Increase fiber, complex carbohydrates and essential fatty acid foods. Use more monounsaturated oils and avoid hydrogenated fats. Keep homogenized milk, butter and milk fats to a minimum. And behavior patterns to be avoided, which contribute to CVD risk, are smoking, stress, lack of exercise, obesity, and substance abuse.
HERBAL SUPPORT Making these lifestyle changes can be "easier said than done." The period of changing behavior patterns can be difficult. This is where herbs can help. Jiaogulan helps fight CVD directly and indirectly. Being an adaptogenic herbal tonic, it has gives support to the body during the stress of change, that is, it helps us adapt. That's indirect help. In addition, the Chinese herb jiaogulan whose botanical name is Gynostemma pentaphyllum, has been receiving a lot of attention for its cholesterol reducing ability. Many clinical studies on the therapeutic effectiveness of Jiaogulan on patients with high cholesterol have been reported showing an effectiveness rate ranging between 67-93% success. These studies showed that Jiaogulan lowered blood cholesterol, triglyceride and LDL, while increasing HDL. Gingko biloba, aside from promoting circulation in the brain for memory enhancement, also assists in the control of cholesterol. Dan shen is an anti-coagulant herb that protects against the build-up of arterial plaque, and improves the microcirculation of blood in the body, two very important actions that decrease the risks of cardiovascular disease. In 1993, Guiyang Medical College did a study on 1,310 healthy persons; of them 630 were above 50 years old. They found that after successive administration of Jiaogulan for one month, the body's production of SOD (an important antioxidant) increased; MDA (a cell-destroying substance) decreased; cholesterol decreased, and serum triglyceride also decreased. Another study by the Guiyang Medical College that year showed that it improved the cardiac contraction and stroke volume, thus increasing cardiac output (blood flow) into the blood vessels, without raising blood pressure or heart rate. 9
Jiaogulan has also demonstrated anti-inflammatory activities through its many saponins. 10 Jiaogulan also helps the body to resist depression of the immune system and other stress-related symptoms. 11, 12 Furthermore there are other clinical research studies, which indicate jiaogulan's ability to reduce tumor size. 13,14 It can even lower high blood pressure. 15
In China jiaogulan is praised as the “Herb of Immortality,” due to its many health giving qualities and anti-aging effects....BACK
1. Song, W.M., et al. “Comparison of the adaptogenic effects of jiaogulan and ginseng.” Zhong Cao Yao. Chinese. 1992; 23(3):136.
2. Wei, Y., et al. “The effect of gypenosides to raise White Blood Count.” Zhong Cao Yao. Chinese. 1993; 24, 7, 382.
3. Kimura, Y., et al. “Effects of crude saponins of Gynostemma pentaphyllum on lipid metabolism.” Shoyakugaku Zasshi. Japanese. 1983 (Rec’d 1984); 37(3):272-275.
4. Yu, C. “Therapeutic effect of tablet gypenosides on 32 patients with hyperlipaemia.” Hu Bei Zhong Yi Za Zhi. Chinese. 1993; 15(3):21.
5. Zhou, S., et al. “Pharmacological study on the adaptogenic function of jiaogulan and jiaogulan compound.” Zhong Cao Yao. Chinese. 1990; 21(7):313.
6. Zhou, Ying-Na, et al. “Effects of a gypenosides-containing tonic on the pulmonary function in exercise workload.” Journal of Guiyang Medical College.1993; 8(4):261.
7. Zhang, Yi-Qun, et al. “Immediate effects of a gypenosides-containing tonic on the echocardiography of healthy persons of various ages.” Journal of Guiyang Medical College. 1993; 18(4):261.
8. Zhou, Ying-Na, et al. Influence of kiwifruit/jiaogulan recipe on the lung function and exercise endurance under exercise workload. Journal of Guiyang Medical College. 1993; 18(4):256.
9. Liu, Jialiu, et al. Overall health-strengthening effects of a gypenosides-containing tonic in middle aged and aged persons. Journal of Guiyang Medical College. 1993; (3):146.
10. Li, Lin, et al. Protective Effect of Gypenosides Against Oxidative Stress in Phagocytes, Vascular Endothelial Cells and Liver Microsomes. Loma Linda University, Calif. Cancer Biotherapy. 1993; 8(3):263-272.
11. Hou, J., et al. Effects of Gynostemma pentaphyllum Makino on the immunological function of cancer patients. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. (K9K). 1991; 11(1):47-52
12. Qian, Hao, et al. Protective effect of jiaogulan on cellular immunity of patients with primary long cancer treated with radiotherapy plus chemotherapy. Acta Academiae Medicinae Shanghai. 1995; 22(5):363-366.
13. Han, M.Q., et al. Effects of 24 Chinese medicinal herbs on nucleic acid, protein and cell cycle of human lung adenocarcinoma cell. Chung Kuo Chung His I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih (BIF). Chinese. 1995 Mar; 15(3):147-9.
14. Wu, J.L., et al. Influence of gypenosides on thrombosis and synthesis of TXA2 and PGF1a. Zhong Yao Yao Li Yu Lin Chuang. Chinese. 1991; 7(2):39.
15. Lu, G.H., et al. Comparative study on anti-hypertensive effect of Gypenosides, Ginseng and Indapamide in patients with essential hypertension. Guizhou Medical Journal. Chinese. 1996; 20:1.