The gynostemma extract is obtained from a climbing perennial vine known as Gynostemma pentaphyllum found in southern China, northern Vietnam, South Korea, and Japan. The plant belongs to the cucumber family and has leaf growing in sets of five. Also known as Jiao gu-lan, the herb has powerful anti-oxidant and adaptogenic effects. It is alleged to enhance longevity which is why it is also known as the longevity herb. The plant has been widely used in China for years as a herbal medicine for its therapeutic effects like decreasing cholesterol and blood sugar while boosting immunity and strength. It has also found use in traditional Chinese medicine for treating chronic bronchitis, hepatitis and cough.
However the plant came to the fore largely due to a research for sugar substitutes. In 1970 an analysis of the sweet component in gynostemma plant led to the discovery of chemical compounds similar to those found in the Panax ginseng, another herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. Gynostemma was found to contain saponins identical to those in ginseng. These saponins provide this plant its sweet taste and anti-oxidative property and are known as gypenosides. Further research on the Gynostemma pentaphyllum revealed that it contained nearly 80 gypenosides compared to around 28 in ginsenosides in ginseng.
The gynostemma is a wild plant available widely and at a cheaper rate than ginseng which gives the plant its other name, cheap ginseng. It is commonly consumed in the form of tea which makes for an invigorating drink in the morning or evening. One can drink it before work to enhance endurance and stamina as well as after work to relieve fatigue and stimulate good sleep. Gynostemma extract is also available in powder form. The tea made from gynostemma extract has stress and fatigue reducing effects on the body. It calms the nerves, relaxing your mind and acts as a very potent stress buster. Research on mice also shows the plant to have anti-depressant quality. However, human study is required to state this conclusively. It has been in wide use for centuries in Asia to improve health and fight anxiety and stress.
Clinical research has proven that gynostemma extract has anti-diabetic effect and that too more than ginseng. It is believed to reduce the glucose level and HbA1c in blood which makes it one of the best natural anti-diabetics. The gypenosides in the plant also help to check cholesterol level and lower high blood pressure thus leading to overall increase in stamina and health.
When it comes to cardiovascular health, nitric oxide is one of the most important chemicals. The gynostemma plant extract has shown a remarkable ability to control the nitric oxide concentration in your body. It can boost the production if when the concentration or inhibits its production if the body is producing more than required. Owing to this ability and also its power to check cholesterol level the plant can promote cardiovascular health. The plant is also believed to have anti-tumor properties due to its excellent anti-oxidant nature. It scavenges on the free radicals inside the body thereby curtailing DNA mutations which in turn inhibits tumor growth and spread. However, more conclusive research especially on human subjects is required for a definitive solution to cancer.
One of the most important functions of the gynostemma extract is as an adaptogen. Adaptogens are rare and special plants which have the ability to increase the immune system of the body and decrease its susceptibility to diseases and external changes. It helps the body to adapt readily and restores balance in the body. The tea made from this plant benefits many organs of the body and maintains optimal homeostasis in the body. Adaptogens are also known to be very intelligent as in they are bi-directional and have a normalizing effect on the body. In other words, if you are skinny it will help you gain weight but if you are obese then it will help you lose fat. This incredible ability to adjust to the user’s needs makes this plant one of the best natural tonic for the body. The triterpenoid saponins present in the gynostemma extract, which gives this plant its qualities, are non-toxic and have very low addictive potential. The Gynostemma pentaphyllum has the broadest spectrum of saponins among any known plants which makes it such a superior adaptogen.