One of the most recently discovered herbal plants that are increasingly becoming popular among herbalists is Gynostemma Pentaphylum, popularly known as Jiaogulan. Gynostemma Pentaphyllum is a climbing vine of the cucumber family or Cucurbitaceae. It naturally grows in the southern provinces of China (particularly in the western to central parts of China), northern Thailand, Southeastern Asia, parts of India, and southern parts of Japan and Korea.
The Discovery of Gynostemma Pentaphyllum
Gynostemma Pentaphyllum came to the attention of the Chinese central government when a national census conducted in 1970 netted an unusually high number of centenarians in the southern provinces of China. The Chinese government then sent a team of investigators to probe further into this peculiar phenomenon. The team could not find any concrete reason behind this unusual phenomenon saved for the fact that the local inhabitants had an unusual habit of regularly drinking Jiaogulan Tea early in the morning and evening. Moreover, the local inhabitants attributed their longevity to Jiaogulan which they call “Xiancao” or “Immortality Herb.”
Benefits of Gynostemma
Gynostemma Pentaphyllum or Jiaogulan is a highly adaptogenic plant with therapeutic and antioxidant properties. These therapeutic properties are generally attributed to the plant’s high concentration of triterpenoid saponin called Gypenosides. There are about a hundred kinds of Gypenosides found in Gynostemma plant in contrast to that of the highly acclaimed Panax ginseng which only contains twenty-eight types of similar saponins. These Gypenosides are responsible for regulating cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. Moreover, these Gypenosides also can enhance the body’s immune system, the central nervous system, endocrine system, and reproductive system.
Gynostemma Pentaphyllum promotes within the body the synthesis of antioxidant enzymes like superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase, glutathione, and catalase. Gynostemma likewise enables the body to produce more of the chemical compound called “nitric oxide (NO).” Nitric oxide is valuable to the body because it prevents heart attack and stroke by:
- Relaxing the arterial walls and easing blood flow.
- Eliminating the possibility of plaque buildup within the arterial walls.
- Negating blood clot build up.
- Preventing the clogging of the arteries.
Moreover, nitric oxide is naturally produced and stored within the heart’s walls. As a person ages, however, the production of NO diminishes.
Gynostemma—unlike other food supplements that provide nitric acid externally—stimulates and enables the body to resume normal production of NO from within. Furthermore, Gynostemma Pentaphyllum’s high concentration of Gypenosides gives this plant its adaptogenic property that promotes bodily balance (homeostasis) while it combats physical and emotional stress.
Gynostemma and Arthritis
Gynostemma Pentaphyllum negates the occurrence of autoimmune diseases which increase the number of symbiotic bacteria inside the body. This negating action regulates the progression of the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is a mini eco-system within the human body that plays a key role in the development of allergies and other diseases like autism, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. As it promotes and increases the action of the body’s immune system, Gynostemma theoretically can be said to help in minimizing the occurrence of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and other autoimmune diseases.
Studies, however, are still going on with regards to Gynostemma’s capability to heal rheumatoid arthritis; and until there are no conclusive scientific findings on the capability of Gynostemma to reduce arthritis, we could only assume that Gynostemma does play a role in the reduction of the occurrence of arthritis within the body.