Posted Apr 09 2011 12:00am
, also called jiaogulan
: 绞 股 蓝
, literally "twisting-vine-orchid") is an herbaceous vine
of the family Cucurbitaceae
family) indigenous to the southern reaches of China
, southern Korea
. Jiaogulan is best known as an herbal medicine
reputed to have powerful antioxidant
effects that increase longevity.
Jiaogulan is a vine hardy to USDA zone
8 in which it may grow as a short lived perennial plant
. It can be grown as an annual in most temperate climates, in well-drained soil with full sun. The plant is dioecious
, meaning each plant exists either as male or female. Thus, if seeds are desired, both a male and female plant must be grown. Unlike most plants of the Cucurbitaceae family, jiaogulan does not show toxicity. 
The plant is best known for its use as an herbal medicine
in traditional Chinese medicine
. A botany book by Wu Qi-Jun from 1848 Zhi Wu Ming Shi Tu Kao Chang Bian
discusses a few medicinal uses and seems to be the earliest known documentation of the herb. Jiaogulan had been cited previously as a survival food
in Zu Xio's 1406 book Materia Medica for Famine
. Until recently it was a locally known herb used primarily in regions of southern China. It is described by the local inhabitants as the "immortality herb", because people within Guizhou
Province, where jiaogulan tea is drunk regularly, are said have a history of living to a very old age.  
Jiaogulan is most often consumed as an herbal tea
, and is also available as an alcohol extract and in capsule or pill form. 
It is known as an adaptogen
that has been found effective in regulating blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and improving endurance. 
Because of its adaptogenic effects, it is frequently referred to as "Southern Ginseng," although it is not closely related to true Panax ginseng
. Its chemical constituents include the triterpenoid saponins
gypenosides which are closely structurally related to the ginsenosides
from the well-known medicinal plant ginseng. 
Jiaogulan is also believed to have calming effects and to be useful in combination with codonopsis
for jet lag
and altitude sickness
Most research has been done since the 1960s when the Chinese realized that it might be an inexpensive source of adaptogenic compounds, taking pressure off of the ginseng stock. Gynostemma pentaphyllum tea, has been used in a Randomized Controlled Trial to treat type 2 diabetic patients. 
It has been shown to be hypoglycemic 
Western languages such as English and German commonly refer to the plant as jiaogulan. Other names include: 
- Chinese : xiancao ( 仙 草 , literally "immortal grass"; more accurately "herb of immortality")
- English : five-leaf ginseng, poor man's ginseng, miracle grass, fairy herb, sweet tea vine, gospel herb, Southern Ginseng
- Japanese : amachazuru ( kanji : 甘 茶 蔓 ; hiragana : あまちゃずる; literally 甘いamai=sweet, tasty 茶 cha=tea, 蔓 zuru=vine, creeping plant)
- Korean language : dungkulcha (덩굴차) or dolwe (돌외)
- Latin : Gynostemma pentaphyllum or Vitis pentaphyllum
- Taiwanese : sencauw
- Thai : jiaogulan (เจียวกู่หลาน)
- Vietnamese : giảo cổ lam
- Portuguese : cipó-doce
Jiaogulan tea is also marketed in the United States under the trade names Panta tea
or Penta tea
, depending on the supplier.
- ^ Chronic toxicity of Gynostemma pentaphyllum. Attawish A. Chivapat S. Phadungpat S. Bansiddhi J. Techadamrongsin Y. Mitrijit O. Chaorai B. Chavalittumrong P. Fitoterapia. 75(6):539-51, 2004 Sep.
- ^ Neuroprotective effects of herbal ethanol extracts from Gynostemma pentaphyllum in the 6-hydroxydopamine-lesioned rat model of Parkinson's disease. Choi HS. Park MS. Kim SH. Hwang BY. Lee CK. Lee MK. Molecules. 15(4):2814-24, 2010.
- ^ Contains a detailed herbal monograph on jiaogulan and highlights health benefits.
- ^ a b
- ^ Histochemical localization of ginsenosides in Gynostemma pentaphyllum and the content changes of total gypenosides]. [Chinese] Liu SB. Lin R. Hu ZH. Shih Yen Sheng Wu Hsueh Pao: Journal of Experimental Biology:. 38(1):54-60, 2005 Feb.
- ^ Antidiabetic effect of Gynostemma pentaphyllum tea in randomly assigned type 2 diabetic patients. Huyen VT. Phan DV. Thang P. Hoa NK. Ostenson CG. Hormone & Metabolic Research. 42(5):353-7, 2010 May.
- ^ Screening of the hypoglycemic effect of eight Vietnamese herbal drugs. Hoa NK. Phan DV. Thuan ND. Ostenson CG. Methods & Findings in Experimental & Clinical Pharmacology. 31(3):165-9, 2009 Apr. UI: 19536359