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Jiaogulan (Gynostemma) Tea: My Newest Favorite Adaptogen

Posted Jun 02 2011 6:28pm 3 Comments

I’ve done quite a lot of reading about herbs and supplements. First, because I teach a college course called Vitamins, Herbs, and Supplements, and second, because I’m interested in trying new herbs out on myself and willing clients (but I want to do it in the safest way possible). The herbal supplement industry is very minimally regulated, and this is concerning to me. Especially with clients who come and tell me stories like this one:

“I ordered the Acai Berry Cleanse over the phone, and it came in a plain white bottle with no label. I thought it was weird, but I took them anyway…and didn’t really notice anything. Then, the next month, I realized they were going to charge my credit card $89 every month automatically. I’ve spent hours on the phone trying to cancel it and can’t get through to anyone.”

It’s jerk companies like this that give herbs a bad name!  In places like India and China, Herbal Medicine has been the norm for…ever. Currently, in India, the government is even spending millions of dollars on research that will help them (among other things) be able to market their herbs to Western-minded people (who expect rigorous scientific studies to prove something is effective).  They’re hoping it will benefit the economy and give higher levels of worldwide credibility to their way of medicine.

The hard part with herbs is standardization. An herb grown in NY will be different than the exact same herb grown in CA…the dirt is different in each place and so is the climate. There are other variables to consider when you’re buying herbs as well. There can be icky fillers and impurities in the herbs, or the herbs may be processed or dried with chemicals.

Don’t let this scare you away.  Just do the research on an herb (and brands) you’re interested in before you purchase it. Also remember that there are not usually any miracles—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

My newest favorite herb is Jiaogulan. This is a tea leaf that has been used in Thailand for…ever, and it’s a known adaptogen and antioxidant. It has saponins, which are similar to the beneficial components in Ginseng…only Jiaogulan has a lot more of them, and thus provides greater benefits.

 

This is the brand of Jiaogulan I decided on. Aum Tea Company - it's great!

Adaptogens are great because they enter the body and balance things that are out of whack in any direction. This can’t usually be said for pharmaceuticals or many other herbs—For example, if you were to eat a lot of soy (some people say this is therapeutic…but please, I shouldn’t get started on that!), the phytoestrogens will only change the amount of estrogenic effects in your body in one direction and it doesn’t know when to lay off. In other words, you can harm yourself and your health by consuming things like soy (if you don’t need higher estrogen levels), but an adaptogen has no (or a really high) safe upper limit.

Jiaogulan seems to be highest quality for the most reasonable price on Amazon.

Here are some of the benefits:

Lowers bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol (plus improves blood triglycerides)

Weight balancing – for underweight people it helps build lean tissue (through improved nutrient absorption) and causes healthy weight gain, and for heavier people it helps increase metabolism for weight loss.

Athletic performance/Muscle Repair – It improves strength and endurance. After 45 days of consistent use of Jiaogulan, athletes showed minimal to no muscle damage after workouts. The result? Shorter recovery time and more workouts.

Anti-Stress – Jiaogulan has shown to minimize the physiological effects of stress on the body (regulates stress hormones), but also have a calming (yet energizing) effect on a person’s mood.

Immune enhancing, and even tumor reducing.

Energy enhancing – along with increased metabolism comes a happier mood and more energy throughout the day in a non-stimulant way. It does this by sending more carbs to the muscles to be used for energy instead of to the liver to be converted to fat.

 

The leaves after they've been used to make tea.

Jiaogulan is caffeine free, and you can buy tea bags, capsules, or loose tea. I bought the loose tea and capsules (for when I forget to make the tea at night—I like iced tea instead of hot tea). I have a tea container that holds the leaves and 48 ounces of water/tea. Once I steep it, I put the container in the fridge and drink it over 1-2 days. It’s very strong, but I’ve been mixing it with a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and some stevia. It’s delicious! I’ve also used the expanded tea leaves (they are whole leaves, not ground or broken pieces) in smoothies after my tea doesn’t need them anymore. You can also eat the leaves if you want to, and I tried that, but it was not my favorite way to ingest them :)

 

Plain Jiaogulan Iced Tea

 

Jiaogulan + Apple Cider Vinegar + Cinnamon + Stevia....Amazing! This also deserves its own post. Recipe coming soon...

Have you tried Jiaogulan? Are you skeptical when you hear of something that is relatively new to the US (or where you live)? I did the research on this one for validity, so if you want to try it, I just urge you to make sure you’re purchasing a good brand. Mine is the Aum brand, and I know Ron Teeguarden is good too (it’s just more expensive).

Have you ever been suckered into buying a supplement or herb/health product that didn’t work?  I definitely have—but I also think it’s part of the process of finding the good stuff. There is a little risk involved regarding wasting money when you try something new!

Next time, I’ll talk about apple cider vinegar, and give specific instructions for the tea/ACV drink. Hope you’re having a great week. I can’t believe tomorrow is Friday already! Any big plans for the weekend?

Katelyn is coming over tomorrow for crab cakes (I swear, you don’t want to miss that recipe—it’s gluten free, egg free, and totally amazing!) and brownies. Our idea of Fun Friday is Crab cakes, brownies, Zevia (in a wine glass of course), and a food documentary. What?  Like you’re doing something better than that?!

On Saturday, I’m going to steal my little man after his lacrosse tournament for a sleepover. …Yes, seven year-olds play on a traveling lacrosse team—what is the world coming to? At seven I think I was playing house with my sister and watching cartoons on Saturday mornings!

{I love summer}

Comments (3)
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This sounds interesting and worth trying. Have you continued using it?

 Where can I order it?

Thanks!

I do still use this tea (sometimes I just drink it as regular tea, not always in this concoction!)...I bought it on Amazon since I couldn't find it in any stores!
Thanks for your reply. I should have made my original post clearer. I can't  find a supplier that distributes that particular brand. So I was wondering what specific supplier you got it from. (I've heard that the taste can vary considerably between different brands.)
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