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Herbs & Botanicals

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Gynostemma (jiao gu lan)

What is gynostemma? What is it used for?

Gynostemma is one of the most popular herbs in Asia. It consists of a shirt, thin green stem and green leaves, which are serrated and tear-shaped. The plant rarely grows beyond a foot in height. Both the leaves and stem are used medicinally.

Gynostemma contains many amino acids, vitamins and minerals that have a positive influence on the body, including calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. It also contains more than 80 compounds known as gypenosides, which are similar to those found in astragalus and ginseng.

It is difficult to account for all the conditions gynostemma is used to treat. In traditional Chinese medicine, gynostemma has a slightly cool property and is regarded as a tonic herb with incredible healing properties. It works on the Spleen, Lung, Kidney, Liver and Heart meridians. In China, gynostemma is used to treat inflammation and chronic bronchitis; stop coughs; and remove sputum. It is also being used increasingly as a form of weight control, and may also enhance the immune system. Some studies have found that gynostemma may fight certain types of cancer.

How much gynostemma should I take?

Most herbalists recommend two capsules of concentrated gynostemma powder (1,000 mg) per day to receive the herb’s optimal effects. Some people prefer standardized extracts; in these instances, practitioners may recommend an extract that contains 25-200mg of gypenosides.

What forms of gynostemma are available?

Raw gynostemma is hard to find, but prepackaged forms are widely available. Gynostemma powders and extracts are quite popular; some companies also offer gynostemma teas.

What can happen if I take too much gynostemma? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Gynostemma is considered one of the safest herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. As of this writing, there are no known adverse effects associated with gynostemma, nor are there any known drug interactions. As always, however, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking gynostemma or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Chen J. Gynostemma: an undiscovered treasure. Acupuncture Today September 2002.
  • Chen WC, et al. Effects of gypenosides on cellular immunity of gamma-ray-irradiated mice. Chinese Medical Journal (English edition) 1996;109(2):143-146.
  • Liu J, et al. Overall health-strengthening effects of a gypenosides-containing tonic in middle-aged and aged persons. Journal of Guiyang Medical College 1993;18(3):146.
  • Teeguarden R. Radiant Health: The Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs. New York: Warner Books, 1998, pp. 134-139.
  • Zhou Y, et al. Effects of a gypenosides-containing tonic on the pulmonary function in exercise workload. Journal of Guiyang Medical College 1993;18(4):261.

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