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 .
Although gynostemma and ginseng are unrelated, both contain similar beneficial compounds called ginsenosides that are not found in other plants .
Additionally, gynostemma produces another type of beneficial compounds called gypenosides that also benefit the immune system, promote high energy levels, and provide cellular protection .
Benefits of Gynostemma
1) Gynostemma Fights Allergies
Gynostemma treatment lowers multiple inflammatory molecules associated with allergies in animal studies:
- Gynostemma stabilizes mast cells and reduces histamine production .
- Gynostemma reduces airway inflammation caused by Th2 cytokines [10, 3].
- Gynostemma reduces the activation of inflammatory astrocytes .
2) Gynostemma Is Neuroprotective
Gynostemma extract protects brain cells from damage.
Moreover, gynostemma is being studied as part of a potential treatment for recovery from stroke .
Laboratory animals under excessive stress learn new skills more slowly. Treating stressed animals with gynostemma reduces these negative changes in learning rates .
Gynostemma extract protected cells from damage in an animal model of Parkinson’s disease .
Higher doses of the extract provided greater protection, which shows promise for a close relationship between supplementation and protection .
3) Gynostemma Supports Weight Loss
4) Gynostemma Improves Diabetic Symptoms
Supplementing gynostemma also improves insulin sensitivity by activating the energy sensor AMPK .
Studies of supplementing gynostemma in diabetic animals saw improvements in blood sugar levels and antioxidant activity .
Gypenosides extracted from gynostemma decreased pathways that lead to cholesterol production in cell-based studies .
5) Gynostemma May Fight Cancer
Compounds extracted from gynostemma prevented lung cancer from spreading in human cell studies .
Gynostemma extract reduced the spread of colon cancer in an animal model .
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) Gynostemma Promotes Cardiovascular Health
Compounds in gynostemma extract help to maintain healthy blood flow and prevent excess arterial narrowing . 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 . 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 extract also helps prevent electrolyte imbalances which can strain the cardiovascular system .
7) Gynostemma 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 .
Gynostemma can also act as an antihistamine and had effects comparable to the asthma medication cromolyn sodium in animal studies .
8) Gynostemma Protects the Cells
Gynostemma extract increased the levels of both beneficial immune cells and antioxidant enzymes in animal models of immune suppression .
Also, gynostemma extract neutralizes free radicals in cell studies .
Gynostemma is also an activator of AMPK, which also protects cells by boosting available energy . These effects may contribute to the cellular protection observed in the studies.
9) Gynostemma Boosts Liver Function
Gynostemma extract supports healthy liver function in a variety of diseases.
It also prevents the growth of cancer cells, slowing disease progression .
Gynostemma extract protects from fatty liver disease caused by unhealthy diets that are high in fat and cholesterol .
Gynostemma extract also protects the liver during oxidative stress and inflammation . This might in part result from the activation of AMPK, which protects cells by boosting available energy [13, R].
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 can increase blood flow, which can increase the side effects of other drugs or supplements that slow blood clotting.