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What Is Jiaogulan?

Jiaogulan (Gynostemma Pentphyllum (Lat.) is low-growing herbaceous vine indigenous to Southern China but now spread throughout much of Asia both as a wild plant and cultivated. It is a member of the cucumber family and in addition to it leaves, which are both consumed directly and used to brew tisanes (herbal teas), it also produces small inedible purple gourds. There are two known varieties of jiaogulan, sweet and bitter.

Tisanes produced from the leaves of jiaogulan are popular in regions where the plant grows naturally and are reported in both Traditional Chinese Medicine and in modern research as a health tonic. The sweet variety of jiaogulan is also prized by tea connoisseurs for its naturally sweet spicy flavor.

A population study conducted in China in the 1970’s noted an unusually large number of people living to over age 100 in certain small Southern provinces. Follow up studies identified Jiaogulan consumption as the only common factor amongst this population group.

Scientists in China and Japan have conducted extensive research into the health benefits of jiaogulan. Its value as a health tonic seem to be related to three factors. Jiaogulan seems to be a natural adaptogen. Adaptogens are herbs known to help the body self-regulate. Jiaogulan also appears to stimulate the body’s production of the anti-oxidant Super-oxide Dismutase (SOD). High SOD levels are associated with a healthy immune system. Finally, Jiaogulan appears to have a beneficial effect on blood flow. Increased blood flow is associated with improved athletic performance, higher energy levels and improved mentation and memory.

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