June 9, 2017
If something is called the “immortality herb,” it better be powerful. The gynostemma herb has several rejuvenating properties, helping to protect the body from the effects of stress as well as provide many other benefits. Here’s what the science says about this incredible herb.
Also known as jiaogulan, gynostemma pentaphyllum is a climbing vine that is found in certain areas of the southern portion of China. It’s a five-leafed plant that comes from the same family as melons and cucumbers. But unlike its “relatives,” gynostemma doesn’t bear edible fruit. The plant is usually found at high elevations, anywhere between 1,000-10,000 feet.
The leaves of the plant are usually harvested for use in teas, but they can also be eaten raw. Gynostemma pentaphyllum is known for having a sweet taste, which is one of the reasons it has been considered as a substitute for sugar.
Although locals have sworn by the medicinal benefits of gynostemma for hundreds of years, serious research into the plant has only been conducted for about the last 50 years. The plant started to gain notoriety worldwide in the 1970s, when a Chinese census showed that people in the Guizhou province routinely lived to be near 100 years old. Scientists started looking into whether people in Guizhou and other provinces were living that long because they consumed gynostemma pentaphyllum on a daily basis.
Gynostemma contains triterpenoid saponin gypenosides, which are chemicals that are renowned for providing a wide range of benefits. For example, gypenosides are believed to help modulate the functioning of the immune system, boosting it when needed and suppressing it when it becomes over-active.1 Studies have also shown that gypenosides have antioxidant properties that may help protect against inflammation.2
People who want to lose weight often turn to gynostemma pentaphyllum because of its ability to increase the body’s metabolism of fat. In a study of a group of people in Korea, an extract of gynostemma pentaphyllum, known as actiponin, proved to be effective to help stimulate weight loss among obese individuals.3
Gynostemma tea, in combination with regular exercise and a healthy diet, may also help in the production of insulin. As a result, this can also promote healthier levels of sugar in the blood for those suffering from type 2 diabetes.4
These are just a few of the other benefits of gynostemma pentaphyllum, according to scientific studies:
– Gynostemma pentaphyllum may be able to reduce the accumulation of plaque in the arteries that can lead to severe problems such as heart attack and stroke.5
– The gynostemma plant contains superoxide dismutase and glutathione, two antioxidants that can reduce many of the signs of aging, such as poor balance, loss of memory, and fatigue.6
– A group of 50 chronic headache sufferers participated in a study that involved the consumption of between 30-50 grams of gynostemma tea on a daily basis. Nearly 80 percent of them reported a reduction in symptoms.7
– A study of 86 patients suffering from tracheitis, or inflammation of the trachea, involved the use of gynostemma tea each day for a two-week period. Of those patients, 80 of them reported either some improvement, moderate improvement or a complete elimination of symptoms. Only six patients showed no improvement.8
There are a lot of different types of products that contain gynostemma pentaphyllum, and you can find most of them at your nearest health food store. Many stores, for example, will carry dried leaves from the herb, while others may carry the entire plant. You can also find tea formulations, as well as supplements made from gynostemma extracts. These can be found in both capsule and powder form.
Making tea from the gynostemma herb is extremely easy. All you need to do is put a tea bag or leaves in a cup, add some hot water, let it sit for about 15 minutes, and then strain into another cup. You can tell it’s ready when it turns a greenish-brown color. If you’ve ever had green tea, you’ll probably notice a similarity in taste.
If you would like to cultivate your own gynostemma plant, it’s hardy enough to be able to handle temperatures between 20-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Even if you live in an area that is prone to major temperature fluctuations, the plant should still be able to thrive. Remember, however, that gynostemma is a vine that can stretch to as far as 25 feet – or even farther – in length.9 As a result, you’ll need to either set up a trellis in your garden or use a very elevated pot and be prepared to stake the plant as it grows. It prefers shaded areas with limited sunlight, so you can grow it indoors if you prefer.
Here’s some information on how to start the plant from the seed stage:
· Put the seeds in a dish of warm water and soak them for about 24 hours to soften their outside coat.
· Fill a pot with a mixture of peat and sand, drain the seeds that have been soaking, and then plant the seeds about two or three at a time about a sixteenth of an inch deep into the soil. Then cover the seeds with potting mix. Unfortunately, not all of the seeds will germinate, so you’ll want to start with more than you think you’ll need.
· Keep the seeds indoors until they start germinating. You’ll need to be patient, because the process can take anywhere from 10 days to a month. Keep the soil most but don’t overdo it. Once seedlings start to sprout, make sure they have a consistent amount of bright light.
· If you are planning to grow your plant outdoors, move them once leaves start to form. Early spring tends to be the best time for the gynostemma plant to thrive.
Research suggests gynostemma pentaphyllum can deliver a wide range of health benefits. While no one is saying that it’s any sort of magic elixer that can cure all ills, there’s an impressive amount of evidence that you should consider making it a part of your diet.
For more helpful health news, keep reading:
1. Zhang C, et al. “[Immunomodulatory Action Of The Total Saponin Of Gynostemma Pentaphylla]. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 7 June 2017.
2. Jia D, et al. “Purification, Characterization And Neuroprotective Effects Of A Polysaccharide From Gynostemma Pentaphyllum. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 7 June 2017.
3. Park SH, et al. “Antiobesity Effect Of Gynostemma Pentaphyllum Extract (Actiponin): A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 7 June 2017.
4. Lokman, Ezarul Faradianna et al. “Evaluation Of Antidiabetic Effects Of The Traditional Medicinal Plantgynostemma Pentaphyllumand The Possible Mechanisms Of Insulin Release”. N.p., 2017. Print.
5. Xie, Zhuohong et al. “Chemical Composition Of Five Commercial Gynostemma Pentaphyllum Samples And Their Radical Scavenging, Antiproliferative, And Anti-Inflammatory Properties”. N.p., 2017. Print.
6. Hunan Journal of Medicine and Herbology 1991; 7(2): 56
7. Chinese Journal of Practical Internal Medicine 1993; 13(12): 725
8. Hunan Journal of Chinese Medicine 1993; 9(4): 11
9. “Germinating Gynostemma Pentaphyllum”. Homeguides.sfgate.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 7 June 2017.
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