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Immortal Musings

History of Jiaogulan

by Ralph Kenney

August 14, 2014

Jiaogulan: A small vine in a huge country!

Jiaogulan grows naturally in certain small provinces in Southern China.
However, the traditional medicine of Southern China has been largely ignored. Consequently, the authors of the classic Chinese Medicine texts, who were from Northern China, had only passing familiarity with Jiaogulan. Jiaogulan is first mentioned in literature during the Ming dynasty. In 1406 the physician Zhu Xiao described Jiaogulan in a medical text called "Materia Medica for Famine". In this text he simply recommends Jiaogulan as a cheap dietary supplement for people living in some of the "poor" provinces. In the late 1500's Jiaogulan is again briefly mentioned in the classic TCM text, "Compendium of Materia Medica". However, the author Li Shi-Zhen confused Jiaogulan with another herb and recommended it for use on cuts, bruises, edemas of the neck and other trauma. This confusion is cleared up during the Qing dynasty by herbalist Wu Qi-Ju in the book, "Textual Investigation of Herbal Plants". Again, Jiaogulan is only briefly described although the applications are clarified.

The focus of TCM on plants from the North and Central China and the confusion in the texts resulted in Jiaogulan never being widely used in China. However, it remained popular among the villagers of Southern provinces especially Guangxi and Shicuan provinces. There, villagers drank it because it tasted good and was refreshing. They preferred Jiaogulan to the better known Te' or Cha' (the plant we now usually call tea) and why not, it tasted great and grew like a weed in the forests. This frequent consumption in Guangxi and Shicuan had some interesting results that were not noticed until the great Chinese census of the 1970's. What the census revealed was startling and led to the modern discovery of Jiaogulan.

Modern Science Asks Seniors for the Secret to Long Life
How many times have we seen a TV reporter ask someone who just turned 100 the secret to a long life?
What would happen if there were a place where 100 year old people were common? Certainly the scientific community would be intrigued. This is what happened as a result of the first extensive census in China. The census revealed that in the provinces of Guangxi and Shicuan in Southern China many people lived past the age of 100. The Chinese government wanted to know why and commissioned a team of researchers from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences to investigate. The researchers considered genetics, climate, diet and many other factors. The researchers reported in a popular daily newspaper that many of the centegenarians consumed a tea made from a wild vine. In fact, the locals gave the researchers a big clue. They called this plant "Xiancao", the immortality herb. Researchers identified the plant as Jiaogulan (known in latin as Gynostemma pentaphyllum).

In 1978 the Chinese government appointed Dr. Jialiu Liu to lead a sixteen scientist team researching the potential uses of plants growing in the Mount Fanjing Nature Reserve. Dr. Liu's team settled on Jiaogulan as the most promising. Dr. Liu's team conducted extensive research into the benefits of Jiaogulan eventually resulting in over 300 human and animal medical studies that documented thoroughly the amazing benefits of Jiaogulan. They also began to reveal the mechanics of these effects although research continues. In parallel, researchers in Japan were also discovering Jiaogulan. In Japan the plant is known as Amachazuru (which translates as sweet (ama) tea (cha) vine (zuru) ).

Your sweet tooth will show you the way.
Dr. Masahiro Nagai first researched Jiaogulan as a potential sugar substitute. Remember in the 1970's when artificial sweeteners like Sweet n' Low were all the rage? Naturally many companies were searching for other alternatives in order to capture this booming market. Dr. Nagai investigated the plant Amachazuru (Jiaogulan). He was surprised to discover that Amachazuru contained many of the same chemical compounds as Ginseng. He published his findings but dropped the project as it appeared Jiaogulan was not sufficiently sweet to make and efficient sugar substitute.

Later Dr. Tsunematsu Takemoto read Dr. Nagai's paper and became interested in Amachazuru.
Dr. Takemoto and his team researched Amachazuru throughout the 1980's and published extensive findings including documenting 82 separate saponins (the beneficial compounds in Ginseng which has only 29 saponins).
We owe much of our current knowledge and interest in Jiaogulan to Dr. Takemoto, however, his research ended with his death in 1989.

Jiaogulan comes to America
In 1999 American researcher Michael Blumert and Dr. Jialiu Liu teamed up to publish a book on Jiaogulan. This book entitled "Jiaogulan: The Immortality Herb" compiled much of the research on this herb and sparked interest in the U.S. In parallel, alternative medical practitioners were hearing about Jiaogulan and began including it in their recommendations to clients.

Now the Immortalitea Company brings Jiaogulan to you.
We grow our Jiaogulan in the highlands of Thailand where the clean air and water produce a superior plant. We harvest monthly and ship fresh to your door. We hope you'll visit our shopping page and give Jiaogulan tea a try.

Knowing more about Gynostemma(aka Jiaogulan):

Thе Health Benefits of Gynostemma
What Is Jiaogulan?
Jiaogulan FAQs
Other names for Jiaogulan
Sweet Science of Jiaogulan
Benefits of Jiaogulan (Gynostemma)
Jiaogulan: Vasodilatory Benefits
Jiaogulan Smoothie Recipe
Gynostemma may help prevent stroke-related brain damage
Is my Jiaogulan “really” that good?…………Yes!
Running at Optimum – Jiaogulan for Athletes
HIV researchers tout Gynostemma in the fight against HIV


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