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What is Jiaogulan?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 30 December 2019
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Jiaogulan is a plant commonly used in Chinese and herbal medicine. It is usually used because of its strong antioxidant and restorative properties. Extracts of jiaogulan are also said to help with high cholesterol and obesity. The plant is frequently consumed as a tea, but there are also jiaogulan pills, powders, and liquid tonics. While jiaogulan is historically most commonly associated with southern China, it has become popular as an herbal supplement all over the world.

This plant goes by many names. Its Latin classification is Gynostemma pentaphyllum, and it has many common names in English, including sweet tea vine, gospel herb, and poor man's ginseng. Even though jiaogulan shares some properties with ginseng, it is not related in any significant way to true ginseng, and is much closer to members of the cucumber family. In Chinese, the plant is sometimes called immortality grass because of its reputation for prolonging life when drunk regularly as tea.

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Uses of jiaogulan are far reaching, but many of these benefits depend on long-term use of the product as a supplement. Claims of increased longevity depend on extended use of the product throughout a lifetime, not just single doses. Improvement in cardiovascular function, for example, depends on using the product extendedly. The same can be said of the plant's ability to lower cholesterol and regulate hormones. As such, this homeopathic medicine can be thought of as a way to improve overall health by changing the substances that are consumed, much in the same way that eating less fatty meat can improve health if continued over long periods of time.

Sometimes, jiaogulan is used as an attack against a specific incident of ill health. Colds and bronchitis are occasionally treated with the plant. It is sometimes used to treat symptoms of jet lag or to revitalize a person after long periods of fatigue. Many believe that the plant has a calming effect on people who are otherwise stressed and enduring mental anguish, but it is difficult to quantify the degree of psychological effects of homeopathic medicines.

There is no recommended dosage of jiaogulan, and it is not known to be possible to overdose on the plant. Side effects are rare and typically mild, but might include nausea or an increased number of bowel movements. Excessive usage may cause interactions with other medications that perform functions similar to the plant. Overall, jiaogulan can be considered a safe but fairly mild herbal remedy for enduring health problems.

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