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Immortal Musings

Which Herb Should I Try for...

by Ralph Kenney

June 01, 2016

One of the questions I am asked often is something like, “Which of your wellness teas should I drink for condition X ?” where X is whatever is highest of the person’s personal health concerns.

 I try my best to answer (always bearing in mind that I am not a doctor and there are a lot of you asking) but the answer is not always clear-cut because most wellness herbs have more than one benefit and synergistic effects. This is one of the reasons I’m not a fan of most extracts.

By extracting a single chemical compound from an herb, a supplement maker is deciding for you which health benefit is right for you and ignoring the synergies inherent in a whole herb.

 But, those multiple benefits make it harder to recommend a single herb for a given condition, because the herbs often overlap in terms of health benefit. For example, Gynostemma (Jiaogulan), White Mulberry and Hibiscus ALL have proven health benefits for improved circulation, supporting weight loss, helping manage blood sugar, aging, controlling cholesterol and reducing inflammation.

 So, while I have my top recommendations for different conditions,

I suggest you try different herbs and switch them up from time to time.

Every person’s physiology is different. You may respond more effectively to one herb than another. Also, often the benefits a given herb reduce over time. By changing herbs for a while you change the mechanism at work and, when you return to the old standby, you will likely find it is again as effective when you first tried it.

 This is on my mind today because of two studies I just read. I often recommend

Jiaogulan for people concerned about their blood pressure because jiaogulan is shown to increase your body’s production of Nitric Oxide, a natural vasodilator.

But a new study in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research shows that
compounds in

White Mulberry leaf phosphorylate (activate) the enzyme eNOS, which in turn also helps your body produce Nitric oxide.[I]

 So white mulberry leaf may also help control blood pressure and does so through a very similar mechanism to jiaogulan. 

 The second study, published in the Journal “Planta Medica,” focuses on medicinal plants for treatment of Parkinson’s disease. I was pleased to see JiaouglanWhite Mulberry leaf and Hibiscus all mentioned. In this case different mechanisms are at work. The researchers suggest jiaogulan and hibiscus as possible sources for reducing oxidative stress and neuroprotection. Whereas, white mulberry leaf is identified as protecting dopamine producing cells. Researchers believe there is a clear link between reduced dopamine production and Parkinson’s disease.[II]

There are two examples, from today’s reading alone of different herbs providing similar health benefits.

So, how to choose? 

Don’t choose. Let your body decide. Try different herbs that the science and traditional medicine suggest may be beneficial. Pay close attention to how they make you feel and, of course, watch your test results as well. The right herb for you is simply the one that works best for you.



[I] Carrizzo, Ambrosio et al., Morus alba extract modulates blood pressure homeostasis through eNOS signaling. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 1613-4133 2016

[II] Rios, Onteniente et al., Medicinal Plants and Natural Products as Potential Sources for Antiparkinson Drugs. Planta Medica May, 2016


  • Noel, I believe I read a report some time back that said tea which is brewed hot and then chilled loses most of it’s benefits, because there’s a heavy precipitation caused by the chilling. You can see this in commercially bottled iced teas, such as Snapple for one example.

    I used to make iced tea by chilling hot brewed tea and found it turned very cloudy and produced a large amount of a dark coloured precipitate in the container. So this report made sense to me.

    I now make iced tea by cold steeping instead. While I don’t know if cold steeping is as good at extracting the beneficial compounds, I do know it will remain very clear and there is no precipitate at all. It does take time for cold steeping, at least 24 hours in the fridge. Might be something to consider ?.

    You might also try using powdered tea leaves instead. That’s what Matcha tea is. With matcha, or just powdered tea leaves, you are consuming everything the tea leaf has to offer. Matcha is even finer than baby powder, so it does not make for a ‘chewy’ brew, but it needs a bit of care to mix at first and it will settle to the bottom if not kept stirred up.. Hope that’s of some help to you.

    Karen J Gray on

  • For over a year, I’ve been making homemade tea using your Jiaogulan, jasmine tea, plus various dried flowers (hibiscus, chamomile, apple mint, red bergamot, oregano) and other stuff (dried/ground ginseng, fresh ginger) brewed three times, mixed together and then steeped hot, to get some of the grounds into the tea for maximum benefit. This is great and the batch, poured into glass bottles, lasts for about a week. Do you know whether green tea loses its nutritional properties within one week from brewing? This process is too labor intensive to do on a daily basis.

    Noel Wright on

  • Did the study about the enzyme eNOS in the white mulberry leaf say anything about whether the enzyme is also in the fruit, or only in the leaf?

    Jett on

  • When I enjoy just one cup of tea, how do I save the used leaves for the second and third cups, if I would like to use them the next day….I’m thinking molds might start growing in the tea pot.

    Ginny on

  • Hi Dennis, The recommendation is of course dependent on the person and the tea. But, in general, I recommend minimum of 3 cups per day of jiaogulan and up to 8. White mulberry tea should be consumed before each meal.

    I hope that helps.

    Ralph Kenney on

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