The Herb of Immortality
Jiaogulan is a longevity herb. This jiaogulan is called the”immortality herb”. Teas and capsules are made from jiaogulan.The chinese herb jiaogulan has been used by the people in the mountainous regions of Southern China as an energizing agent. They would take it as a tea before work to increase endurance and strength, and after work to relieve fatigue. It has also been taken for general health and has been recognized as a rejuvenating elixir. Jiaogulan has been described “Like ginseng but better than ginseng.”
Another story states that in a village near Fanjing Mountain in Guizhou province, the inhabitants would drink jiaogulan tea instead of the more common green tea and as a result many people there were living to be 100 years of age. Thus jiaogulan gained notority as “the herb of immortality.
A famous doctor discovered that jiaogulan contains four kinds of saponins exactly like those in Panax ginseng and seventeen other kinds of saponins very similar to those in Panax ginseng. His research team has identified and named eighty-two saponins from jiaogulan, whereas Panax ginseng has been found to have up to 28 saponins. Although these two plants are not related, they contain the same major components: saponins, a substance that has the unique quality of dissolving both in water and oil, and when mixed with water and shaken, will foam up. In Panax ginseng the saponins are called ginsenosides, in jiaogulan, or amachazuru, they are called gypenosides. While doing research the team saw that jiaogulan increased the activity and strength of mice in a swimming test, showing the herb’s ability to improve endurance. Another study on mice showed the herb’s effectiveness as a neoplasm or tumor inhibitor, and a third showed the herb’s ability (adaptogenic) to prevent the unpleasant side effects of dexamethasone (hormone treatmen).
These studies used mice as subjects; nevertheless having been tested on mammals, they were a significant marker for the herb’s possible effectiveness on humans. This was borne out by subsequent studies on humans. Jiaogulan would prove, in studies, to enhance endurance, inhibit tumors and help protect the cellular immunity in humans, as well as provide many other health-promoting benefits.
Results of a nationwide population census in China taken in the 1970s revealed that, in small regions in the south central portion of China (some villages of Guangxi, Shicuan and other southern provinces), high rates of people per capita were living to 100 years of age. Cancer incidence was extremely low among the inhabitants as well. Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Medical Science in Beijing and other institutions began to research these regions and discovered that the people living there were regularly drinking a tea made from the herb jiaogulan. Because of the significant results of the census taken in China during the 1970’s, and then the boom of scientific interest in jiaogulan (amachazuru) in Japan during the 1980s, many research studies on jiaogulan were undertaken in China, and they have been continuing up to the present. Various pharmacological and therapeutic effects of jiaogulan were investigated and proven by tests on animals and human beings. Tonics and recipes made of jiaogulan have been developed and are being used in Chinese medical institutions. Surveys of the resources of jiaogulan in various portions of China have been made and cultivation techniques investigated. Nearly 300 scientific papers on jiaogulan or its saponins have been published in respected journals, and information about the herb has been formally collected and published in the modern Dictionary of Chinese Materia Medica.18 Jiaogulan has been recognized and accepted by ever-increasing numbers of Chinese people. From the time of the Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.), the Emperors of ancient China would send various envoys overseas to search for the “elixir of life”, but their efforts were always fruitless. Perhaps, the “elixir” has been found by descendants of the Emperors, growing in their own homeland!
Jiaogulan enhances endurance, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, inhibits tumors and help protect the cellular immunity as well as providing many other health benefits.
Health Benifits of Jiaogulan – Jiaogulan improves the metabolism of the heart directly as well as enhancing the release of nitric oxide in the body, which helps to relax the coronary blood vessels. (Tanner, M.A., et al. “The direct release of nitric oxide by gypenosides derived from the herb Gynostemma pentaphyllum.” Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tenn. Nitric Oxide
1999 Oct; 3(5):359-65.)
What makes Jiaogulan unique is the wide variety of therapeutic effects that scientists have demonstrated through their research; i.e., antioxidant protection, enhancing cardiovascular function, blood pressure and cholesterol regulation, positive influence on blood elements, strengthening immunity, etc. In other words, getting these benefits by taking Jiaogulan might eliminate the need for taking an array of other supplements.
1. Cholesterol – Jiaogulan lowers total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and raises HDL cholesterol. More than 20 papers have been published on the subject with effectiveness reported as ranging from 67 to 93%. It also inhibits platelet aggregation which lessens the chance of a stroke or heart attack.
2. Antioxidant – This herb has been shown in tests to lower the amount of superoxide radical and hydrogen peroxide in certain white blood cells, an excellent indicator of antioxidant activity. Jiao gu lan also has the remarkable property of increasing endogenous SOD (Superoxide Dismutase) in the body. SOD is one of the body’s most important antioxidants and studies show that charting SOD levels in various animal species is a reliable indicator of their longevity. Trials in humans showed that SOD levels returned to youthful levels after taking 20 mg of Gypenosides (active principle) daily for one month.
3. Adaptogen – Jiaogulan modulates the nervous system. It calms an overexcited nervous system and stimulates a depressed one. 300 professional athletes were the subject of a study. All the athletes reported that taking this herb before competition made them vigorous and alert with quick reflexes. Yet, it also made them less nervous.
4. Insomnia – 112 cases of insomnia reported a sleep improvement of 89 to 95 percent.
5. Blood Pressure – 223 patients were divided into three groups. One group took Ginseng, the next took Jiaogulan and the last took the blood pressure medication, Indapamide. The effectiveness was rated at 46% for Ginseng, 82% for Jiaogulan and 93% for Indapamide. This herb modulates blood pressure, lowering it when it is too high and raising it when it is too low.
6. Cardiac function – Jiaogulan increases cardiac function. In a study combined with some other herbs heart stroke volume increased 37% and cardiac output increased by 21% on the average. Ejection fraction increased by 13%. Subjects had normal blood pressure which did not change although heart rate decreased by 10%.
7. White Blood Cells – Jiaogulan increases the production of white blood cells in white cell deficient patients such as those who have recently undergone chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
8. Immuno-stimulant – This herb modulates lymphocyte formation and increases lymphocyte activity. It was also found to greatly enhance the activity of NK (Natural Killer cells) in cancer patients.
9. Diabetes – A study of 46 patients with Diabetes Mellitus showed an improvement of 89% in their condition. Another study also showed satisfactory results.
10. Hepatitis B – 100 patients were given Jiao gu lan for 3 months. Effectiveness was rated at 89%. Another study of 200 patients yielded similar results. Other studies showed the ability to protect the liver from various toxic chemicals such as carbon tetrachloride.
11. Bronchitis – A study of 86 cases of chronic bronchitis had an effectiveness rate of 93%. Another study of 96 cases had a 92% effectiveness rate.
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