While this article focuses on the power of Gynostemma, if you’re not yet familiar with the incredible balancing, detoxifying, protecting, nourishing and strengthening qualities of Super Tonic herbs, please have a look first at our Super Tonic Herbs 101, Intro.
Otherwise, let’s get started!
Gynostemma, The Most Potent Adaptogen on the Planet?
Gynostemma Pentaphyllum, Jiaogulan, or “Miracle Grass” as it’s often referred to, is also called the Chinese “Cure All”, for very good reason.
Literary reference to the herb dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368 A.D. to 1644 A.D) and – as all the Super Tonic herbs I’ll be writing about – has been used safely and effectively for centuries in the East and this one in particular, ‘stemmed’ from the southeastern provinces of China.
Fast forward to 1972, when a group of Japanese researchers went to the Qu Jing region of the Yunnan Province when it was reported that the inhabitants were drinking Gynostemma tea to treat chronic bronchitis. While their research did indeed confirm that the tea was therefor effective, they also discovered that many of the people who drank Gynostemma tea daily, lived to their 80’s, 90’s, many even beyond 100.
This led the researchers deeper into their study of the constituents within jiaogulan, where they discovered the broadest range of adaptogens of any plant to date, which, in short, translates to the widest range of health benefits.
How is this possible? I will present a summary list below, of ailments currently being treated with Gynostemma, then go into detail in the areas of the most researched aspects.
Adaptogens are phyto-chemicals called triterpene saponins, or saponins for short. The saponins within Gynostemma are called gypenosides. There are 82 known in Gynostemma thus far. For perspective, the saponins in two other famous “All-Star” Super Tonic herbs, ginseng and astragalus, ‘only’ have saponins in the 30 count.
Saponins are intelligent, broad-spectrum modulators that work to balance and strengthen our cells, organs and systems for optimal homeostasis – a key component of all Super Tonic herbs. They’re both oil and water-soluble and have chemical structures that closely mirror many of our natural hormones.
So when I use the ‘foofoo’, or ‘new-agey’ word, “longevity”, this is how the amazing anti-aging properties of these herbs actually work to help us achieve longevity.
Here’s a summary list of ailments for which Gynostemma is currently being used clinically in China, Japan and Korea, (by doctors in hospitals and clinics):
Acne, allergies, arthritis, asthma, athlete’s foot, cancer, cholelithiasis, colitis, chronic headache, common cold, constipation, coronary heart disease, cough, diabetes, excessive phlegm, fatigue, frostbite, gastric ulcer, gastritis, gastroptosis, gout, gum inflammation, hair loss, halitosis, hemorrhoids, high blood fat, high cholesterol, hypertension, hypertrophy of prostate, impotence, insomnia, leg and foot cramps, liver diseases, loss of appetite, loss of concentration, low vigor, lumbago, migraines, neuralgia, obesity, oral cavity inflammation, otitis media, plaque, premature ejaculation, rheumatism, rough skin, scars, schizophrenia, shoulder pain, spasms, swelling pain, tumors, warts, white hair.
Let’s outline some practical, fundamental aspects of why so many benefits from Gynostemma are possible:
– Cardiovascular system
– Digestive system
– Hepatic, (Liver) protection
– Immune system
Anti-Inflammatory – Nuclear Factor Kappa B
One specific saponin from Gynostemma, Gypenoside XLIX, has been demonstrated to counteract the deleterious effects of Nuclear Factor Kappa B (NFkB), the substance at the root of all inflammation in humans. Reducing the activity of Nuclear Factor Kappa B should be one of the goals of any longevity, anti-aging program. This compound promotes aging and is an integral aspect of all research into life extension. Gynostemma’s broad reputation as a longevity herb is certainly based on this ability to quell Nuclear Factor Kappa B.
Additionally, Inflammation in the body is a huge leak of our core energy stores, or ‘Jing’, and if we can keep inflammation down then obviously we’ll have more naturally available energy, because our body won’t have to spend time or precious resources constantly battling inflammation. For those of us who are really active, we’re going to build up some inflammation no matter what, and Gynostemma is excellent to aid in keeping that inflammation down.
Gynostemma stimulates the production of the body’s most powerful endogenous antioxidant, SOD or Super Oxide Dismutase. Studies have found that SOD increases the activities of macrophages, T lymphocytes and natural killer cells. It also acts as a tumor inhibitor. Glutathione and Super Oxide Dismutase are the two most important anti-oxidants that detoxify the body.
As an anti-stress adaptogen, Gynostemma helps optimize the body’s central stress response, located in the Hypothalamic-Pituitary Adrenal axis, (HPA). The HPA axis is a delicate and dynamic intertwining of the Central Nervous System and the Endocrine system.
This means that Gynostemma can either help relax us when we’re over stimulated, or energize when we’re depressed and in need of a natural boost. This dual-directional activity is far superior and actually beneficial to our long-term health, which is in stark contrast to the stimulating effects of caffeine use for ‘energy’, over time.
The gypenosides in Gynostemma posses a regulating effect on lymphocyte transformation and DNA polymerase activity. Similar to the ginsenosides in ginseng, these gypenosides have a protective effect against myocardial and cerebral ischema. In simple terms, that means these compounds help ensure healthy blood flow to the brain and the heart, which is, uh, pretty important! 🙂
Because of the overall improved cardiac efficiency caused by Gynostemma, blood flow and oxygenation of the entire circulatory system is also enhanced.
Further, Gynostemma’s saponins help normalize blood pressure and stabilize the heart rate.
Jiaogulan naturally assists with a soothing, mild action in the digestive process, helping to normalize bowel movements and cleanse the intestinal tract.
Saponins are known to have foaming soap-like qualities and were originally used as an early source of natural detergents in many cultures around the world. The high saponin content in Gynostemma, in a sense, acts as a cleanser as it moves through the digestive system, ridding the body of wastes and toxic microbes.
Hepatic, (Liver) protection
Gynostemma has gained a significant reputation, with its dual-direction activity for helping in weight management programs. The saponins optimize the body’s metabolism, thus both allowing overweight people lose weight and athletes, bodybuilders or excessively slim people gain lean muscle mass.
These gypenosides optimize blood sugar and reduce blood fat. Japanese and Chinese studies indicate that Gynostemma lowers low density lipoprotein, (LDL, or ‘bad cholesterol) while raising high density lipoprotein, (HDL, or ‘good cholesterol).
Thus, Gynostemma is an excellent herb in the protection from, and treatment of Atherosclerosis, liver cancer and various other liver diseases and inflammatory conditions.
I already spoke of a few of the amazing Anti-Oxidant and Anti-Inflammatory properties above, which significantly contribute to the health and optimal functioning of our immune system and our longevity.
In the actual study that was done in the Yunnan Province in China, regarding the aforementioned chronic bronchitis, which led this article, it was shown that of the 537 cases treated in one, 10-day therapeutic period, the total effective rate was 79%.
Gynostemma contains saponins that inhibit dangerous enzymes called polymerases, which read and copy their genetic material. When viruses hijack cells and begin spreading by copying their genetic code, we’re in for it.
The gypenosides in Gynostemma reduce many viruses’ ability to copy their code by as much as 70%, which gives our body’s natural defenses, including our Anti-Oxidants a much better chance of fighting off infection. (Remember, Gynostemma helps our body produce Super Oxide Dismutase too!!).
According to laboratory studies, preparations of Jiaogulan have demonstrated an inhibiting influence on various kinds of cancer cells from up to 20%-80%, including cancers of the stomach, abdomen, uterus, liver, mouth, esophagus, pancreas, brain, lungs, kidneys, tongue, breasts and skin.
All of the aforementioned traits of Gynostemma ultimately contribute to optimizing our vitality and longevity. Additionally, Gynostemma contains essential trace minerals and amino acids:
Trace Minerals – Calcium, Zinc, Iron, Manganese, Magnesium, Potassium and Phosphorus.
Amino Acids – Leucine, Histadine, Lysine, Glutamic Acid, Glutaminic Acid, Glycine, Glycocoll, Methionine, Aspartic Acid, Threonine, Serine, Cystine, Isoleucine, Arginine, Phenylalanine.
These crucial building blocks are requisite components for serious athletes, and anyone wanting to achieve maximum performance.
But wait, the natural performance-building saponins in Gynostemma also enhance two integral categories of hormones in the adrenal cortex, glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids. What these control are the carbohydrate and protein metabolism, and water, salt and electrolyte metabolism, respectively.
This article only scratches the surface of what this amazing herb can do for us, and there continues to be valuable research in to the benefits of this broad-spectrum Super Tonic Herb.
In the meantime, you can experience it for yourself, as it’s a key ingredient in our Sleeping Monk Super Immunity formula. Enjoy!