English Name: gynostemma
Pharmaceutical Name: Rhizoma seu Herba Gynostemmatis
Medica Category: Qi-Tonifying Herbs
Properties: Jiao Gu Lan enters the Lung and Heart channels; it is slightly bitter in nature and cold in temperature.
The Chinese Herb Jiao Gu Lan is the dried above-ground parts and rhizomes of a species of plant in the genus Gynostemma endemic to temperate woodlands and forests of Southern China, India, and parts of Southeast Asia that do not get too hot or too cold (Gynostemma pentaphyllum Makino). Much of the Jiao Gu Lan available commercially comes from strains produced by Japanese researchers in the 1980’s that were re-introduced into China and are now widely cultivated as the “herb of commerce”.
Jiao Gu Lan has a long tradition of use in Southern China as a longevity tonic, but modern interest in its healing properties (by the scientific research community) began in the early 1970’s when it was reported that it had been used to successfully treat some forms of chronic bronchitis. This drew worldwide attention to its healing properties, and it has since been shown to have strong anti-fatigue and adaptogenic effects (i.e. balances/regulates systems in the body) on a par with astragalus, ganoderma (reishi mushroom), and ginseng root. Other beneficial effects attributed to Jiao Gu Lan include: improving digestion, strengthening the mind, improving sexual function, calming the nerves, and relieving pain. Jiao Gu Lan is also being used in China to address certain forms of cancer (attributed to its actions to clear heat and remove toxins—see section below).
Jiao Gu Lan moistens the Lung and promotes generation of body fluids and has an overall action to nourish and strengthen the body; as such, it is used to address a variety of chronic disorders that are rooted in deficiency syndromes such as asthma, migraines, neuralgia, chronic bronchitis, and deficient digestion.
Jiao Gu Lan clears heat and eliminates toxins to reduce swelling, inflammation, and pain. Clinical applications include addressing gastric and duodenal ulcers, tumors (both cancerous and benign) and palpable masses, and herpes zoster sores (internally and topically).
Jiao Gu Lan lowers blood pressure and cholesterol to address hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and coronary sclerosis.
Jiao Gu Lan has sedative, hypnotic, and analgesic effects which can potentiate the sedative effects of barbiturates, narcotic analgesics, benzodiazepines, and other drugs that induce sedation.
Jiao Gu Lan may cause mild stomach discomfort when taken as a tea on an empty stomach.