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Immortal Musings

Jiaogulan in Traditional Chinese Medicine

by Ralph Kenney

May 04, 2018


Video Highlights:

00:18 - What do the classic TCM texts say about jiaogulan?

00:59 - Why isn't jiaogulan mentioned more often in classic TCM?

01:03 - Enjoy watching me stumble with the word "texts"

01:39 - How did jiaogulan become popular in China despite not being mentioned in the classics?

02:11 - How do modern TCM practitioners classify jiaogulan?

Transcript - Jiogulan in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Recently I’ve received a couple of emails from customers familiar with Chinese medicine asking what the TCM theory and applications of Jiaogulan, aka Gynostemma.

Here’s the deal on TCM and Jiaogulan. TCM texts almost completely ignore jiaogulan.

IIt’s a bit strange because the herb is tremendously popular in China, especially Southern China. All Chinese herbalist are familiar with jiaogulan and most prescribe it routinely for everything from weight loss to libido.

But, I have book shelf full of the TCM classic texts and jiaogulan doesn’t get mentioned much at all. In the ancient classics, Jiaogulan is mentioned only once that I’m aware of and it’s described as an herb for starvation. (which makes little sense because, in terms of energy content, jiaogulan’s a poor choice.)

Jiaogulan is largely ignored in the classic texts for cultural and historical reasons. Most of the classic texts were funded under patronage from the royal family or other wealthy nobles. The people they commissioned these work from were well placed doctors and herblists in the royal court, which means that almost all of them were from Northern China.

Jiaogulan is native to Southern China. The herbalists writing the classic text just weren’t that familiar with it, if at all.

Jiaogulan has become popular in China over the years the old fashioned way, word of mouth. Helped, of course, by the Chinese census in the 1970 which identified unusually large numbers of centenarians in southern provinces where jiaogulan is routinely consumed and by the work of dr. Jialiuliu who basically made jiaogulan his life’s work and did much to get the word out about this amazing herb.

Of course, modern Chinese herbalists have characterized jiaogulan in the TCM context. There’s some disagreement because modern TCM is so dependent on the classic texts but in general, modern TCM considers jiaogulan a bitter, slightly cooling tonic herb.

IIt’s believed to have healing benefits to the heart, spleen, lung and kidney meridiens.

Modern Chinese herbalist recommend jiaogulan for hormonal balance, heart health, boosting chi, improving the immune system and cold and flu symptoms.

I hope you found that helpful.

Until next time, I’m Ralph Kenney, founder of Immortalitea where we provide ancient solutions to modern health problems..


  • Hi Barbara,

    That’s a surprising result. Normally one’s blood pressure should drop when consuming jiaogulan as it is a natural vasodilator.

    Of course, every person is different and it’s important to pay attention to your body’s unique reaction. If you find that it does indeed raise your BP then you should probably discontinue.

    But, as I said, that’s quite an unusual reaction and you may want to check if there is some other factor involved here.

    Ralph on

  • I love the Jiaologan tea, but why does my blood pressure elevate when I drink it?

    Barbara on

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