Gynostemma is sometimes called ‘the herb of immortality.’ While it’s an exaggeration to claim that this supplement could make you immortal, it could make you feel that way by boosting the immune system, increasing energy, and reducing stress. Learn more about these benefits below.

What is Gynostemma?

Gynostemma (also called jiaogulan) has a long history of use in herbal medicine, where it is nicknamed the “immortality herb.” It is also called “poor man’s ginseng” due to providing similar benefits and costing less when compared to Panax (Asian) ginseng [1].

Ginsenoside Content

Although gynostemma and ginseng are unrelated, both contain similar beneficial compounds called ginsenosides that are not found in other plants [2].

Additionally, gynostemma produces another type of beneficial compounds called gypenosides that also benefit the immune system, promote high energy levels, and provide cellular protection [3].

Benefits of Gynostemma

1) Fights Allergies

Th2 immune system dominance contributes to seasonal allergies and asthma [4, 5].

Supplementing gynostemma boosts Th1 immune cell production, which balances an overactivated Th2 system [6, 7, 8].

Gynostemma treatment lowers multiple inflammatory molecules associated with allergies in animal studies:

  • Gynostemma stabilizes mast cells and reduces histamine production [9]
  • Gynostemma reduces airway inflammation caused by Th2 cytokines [10, 3]
  • Gynostemma reduces the activation of inflammatory astrocytes [11]

Gynostemma increases Th1 immune system activity by activating PPAR alpha [3]. This may help explain how gynostemma is able to reduce allergy symptoms caused by Th2 dominance.

Compounds from gynostemma also limit inflammation by boosting nitric oxide and activating AMPK [12, 13]. This could provide additional relief for allergy sufferers.

2) Is Neuroprotective

Gynostemma extract protects brain cells from damage.

In an animal model, gynostemma protected the brain from damage caused by low oxygen [14].

Moreover, gynostemma is being studied as part of a potential treatment for recovery from stroke [15].

Gynostemma protects brain cells from damage caused by low oxygen and low blood sugar [16, 15].

Laboratory animals under excessive stress learn new skills more slowly. Treating stressed animals with gynostemma reduces these negative changes in learning rates [11].

Gynostemma extract protected cells from damage in an animal model of Parkinson’s disease [17].

Higher doses of the extract provided greater protection, which shows promise for a close relationship between supplementation and protection [17].

In Alzheimer’s disease, beta-amyloid molecules damage neural cells, but gynostemma extract protected those cells in a laboratory setting [18].

Compounds in gynostemma manage the balance of sodium and potassium ions in cells, protecting the brain from glutamate-induced oxidative stress [19].

Gynostemma activates the PPAR-alpha pathway, which boosts energy production [20, 3].

The PPAR alpha pathway also increases the amount of glucose available as fuel [20, 3]. This increased cellular energy likely explains how gynostemma protects cells from various types of stress.

Gynostemma also limits inflammation by boosting nitric oxide and activating AMPK, which could explain how it is able to protect the brain [12, 13].

3) Supports Weight Loss

Compounds in gynostemma improve blood flow during exercise and thus may increase exercise capacity [21]. This could help people aiming to lose weight to exercise longer and thus see faster results.

Gynostemma extract boosts fat burning and makes muscle cells more sensitive to insulin by activating the energy sensor molecule AMPK [13].

The protein PTP1B promotes obesity and reduces insulin sensitivity, but gynostemma extract can reduce the production of this protein [22, 23, 24].

4) Improves Diabetic Symptoms

Gynostemma regulates blood sugar and boosts antioxidant enzymes by promoting the transcription factor NRF2 [25].

Supplementing gynostemma also improves insulin sensitivity by activating the energy sensor AMPK [13].

Other compounds from gynostemma reduce the protein PTP1B, an insulin regulator that is being explored for the treatment of obesity and diabetes [22, 23, 24].

Studies of supplementing gynostemma in diabetic animals saw improvements in blood sugar levels and antioxidant activity [25].

Gypenosides extracted from gynostemma decreased pathways that lead to cholesterol production in cell-based studies [26].

Regularly consuming tea made from gynostemma and hibiscus was associated with lower cholesterol in a small, uncontrolled study [27].

5) May Fight Cancer

Compounds extracted from gynostemma prevented lung cancer from spreading in human cell studies [28].

Gynostemma extract reduced the spread of colon cancer in an animal model [29].

Animal studies show increased production of antioxidant enzymes that help fight cancer during supplementation with gynostemma [29, 28].

Chronic elevation of the Th2 system is a risk factor for developing breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and pancreatic cancer. Gynostemma may reduce this risk because it reduces excess Th2 inflammation [6, 7, 8].

6) Promotes Cardiovascular Health

Narrowed arteries can reduce healthy blood flow, and chronically narrowed arteries are a major cause of heart disease [3, 30].

Compounds in gynostemma extract help to maintain healthy blood flow and prevent excess arterial narrowing [3]. These compounds don’t widen arteries that are already open, which means gynostemma is less likely to cause unpleasant side effects like flushing and nasal congestion when compared with other drugs and supplements.

Gynostemma extract improves cellular energy levels and may aid recovery from exercise [13]. Patients who are exercising to increase their heart health could see results more quickly by using this supplement with an exercise routine as a result.

Gynostemma protected the heart from damage during a heart attack in animal models [31, 30].

Gynostemma extract also helps prevent electrolyte imbalances which can strain the cardiovascular system [19].

7) Reduces Asthma Symptoms

The wheezing and shortness of breath in asthma is caused by blood vessels narrowing too much in the lungs. Gynostemma extract promotes proper blood vessel dilation and shows promise for preventing and treating asthma symptoms [3].

Allergic inflammation in the lungs is another key cause of asthma symptoms and is prevented by gynostemma extract [10, 3].

Gynostemma can also act as an antihistamine and had effects comparable to the asthma medication cromolyn sodium in animal studies [9].

8) Protects Cells

Gynostemma enhanced antioxidant enzyme activity and reduced oxidative cell damage in animal studies [11, 32].

Gynostemma extract increased the levels of both beneficial immune cells and antioxidant enzymes in animal models of immune suppression [6].

Gynostemma protects brain cells from damage caused by a variety of stressors [16, 32, 15, 17].

Also, gynostemma extract neutralizes free radicals in cell studies [32].

Gynostemma activates the PPAR alpha pathway, which supports energy production and regulates the amount of glucose available as energy [20, 3].

Gynostemma is also an activator of AMPK, which also protects cells by boosting available energy [13]. These effects may contribute to the cellular protection observed in the studies.

9) Boosts Liver Function

Gynostemma extract supports healthy liver function in a variety of diseases.

Gynostemma supplementation reduces liver fat accumulation and liver cell death in animal models of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease [33, 34].

Treatment with gynostemma improves liver cell survival in animal models of chronic liver injury [35, 33].

It also prevents the growth of cancer cells, slowing disease progression [36].

Gynostemma extract protects from fatty liver disease caused by unhealthy diets that are high in fat and cholesterol [34].

Gynostemma extract also protects the liver during oxidative stress and inflammation [37]. This might in part result from the activation of AMPK, which protects cells by boosting available energy [13].

Information on Using Gynostemma


Gynostemma leaves can be prepared and consumed as a tea. Gynostemma tea has been used in smaller studies as well as in traditional medicine.

A standardized extract delivers a higher concentration of the beneficial compounds, but there is not a well-controlled study to recommend the optimal dosage.

Gynostemma Side Effects and Caution

Gynostemma should not be taken with drugs that suppress the immune system since it could potentially make them less effective by acting as an immune stimulant [6, 7, 8].

Gynostemma can increase blood flow, which can increase the side effects of other drugs or supplements that slow blood clotting.

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