Gynostemma Pentaphyllum is a medicinal plant that belongs to the Cucuritaceae (gourd or cucumber) family of vines. Commonly known as Jiaogulan, this climbing vine grows predominantly in southwestern part of China where the plant is referred to as the “Southern Ginseng.” Gynostemma Pentaphyllum also grows in some parts of India, Japan and Korea, and is known to be abundant in Southeast Asia. Due to the plant’s therapeutic properties, the Jiaogulan is frequently consumed as herbal tea. At present, extracts of Gynostemma Pentaphyllum are marketed in the forms of capsules or pills as well as in the form of alcohol extract.
Gynostemma Pentaphyllum and Its Health Benefits
Gynostemma Pentaphyllum is widely known to exhibit various health benefits that include the following:
- Gynostemma Pentaphyllum promotes bodily balance. This is due to the high concentration of various saponins. A saponin is a chemical compound that helps to rectify imbalances in the human body that are brought about by physical and mental stress. These saponins give the Gynostemma Pentaphyllum plant its adaptogenic ability. Adaptogens help restore balance to the nervous, endocrinal, and immune systems. They are also known to normalize body metabolism. The saponins found in the Gynostemma Pentaphyllum plant are called “gypenosides.”
- Gynostemma Pentaphyllum negates high blood pressures. In addition to promoting bodily balance, the gypenosides in the Gynostemma Pentaphyllum help maintain blood pressure at its normal level. Gypenosides are capable of working both ways—either by lowering or by increasing a person’s blood pressure to reach its normal level.
- Gynostemma Pentaphyllum can prevent strokes and other cardiovascular ailments. A deficiency in nitric oxide can lead to arterial damage. When the artery walls get damaged, they become stiff and sticky and they readily attract bad cholesterol—otherwise known as LDL or low-density lipoprotein—and white blood cells that lead to plaque buildup. Excessive cholesterol like LDL and fats like triglycerides can lead to the formation of plaque on the arterial walls. The plaque buildup within the arterial walls eventually leads to constricted blood flow that further results into the formation of blood clots. These blood clots can block blood flow and can eventually lead to embolism, stroke, or heart attack. According to “in vitro” studies, Gynostemma Pentaphyllum’s saponins or gypenosides activate the cells of the heart to release nitric oxide strictly within its confines. Nitric oxide is a free radical gas that is capable of relaxing the walls of the arteries.
- Gynostemma Pentaphyllum lowers excessive cholesterol levels. Based on Chinese clinical studies, the gynostemma pentaphyllum not only lowers cholesterol (like LDL or bad cholesterol, serum cholesterol, and triglycerides) levels, but can also raise the density levels of lipoprotein or good cholesterol levels.
- Gynostemma Pentaphyllum enhances the body’s antioxidant capability. Many people believe that eating antioxidant-rich foods—such as fruits, vegetables and herbal teas—is the best way to acquire antioxidant supplement for their body. Gynostemma pentaphyllum works otherwise by stimulating the human body to produce its own antioxidant instead of relying from external supply of antioxidants.
Other health benefits of Gynostemma include its ability to treat depression and anxiety, bronchitis, and diabetes. Laslty, Gynostemma, is in many ways similar to the more expensive ginseng, but is definitely more potent.