What is Jiaogulan and What Are Its Benefits?

Jiaogulan is a plant known as a supplement against diabetes and obesity. But does it work? Learn all about it in this article.
What is Jiaogulan and What Are Its Benefits?

Last update: 11 June, 2022

In traditional Chinese medicine, jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum) has been valued for its interesting health benefits. In particular, this vine is abundant in bioactive compounds that are associated with good metabolic and nervous system health. In fact, some scientific studies even speak of its properties.

As reported in a publication in the journal Molecules, many of its properties are due to its gipenoside content. These are a series of triterpene saponins that have antiproliferative, antioxidant, and adaptogenic qualities. So, what are the main uses of jiaogulan?

We’ll take a look in this article.

What is jiaogulan?

Jiaogulan, whose scientific name is Gynostemma pentaphyllum, is a climbing plant that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. It is native to Asia, specifically to countries such as China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. It’s also known as yiaogulan, “southern ginseng,” or “the longevity plant”.

Its first applications in traditional medicine date back to the 15th century in China. Since then, its properties have been used to promote wellness, especially in cases of diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity, among other conditions.

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The main uses and benefits of jiaogulan

Like other herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine, jiaogulan is used as a supplement to promote health in the face of certain chronic diseases. Despite this, there is still not enough scientific research to support its properties. Therefore, it’s important to only use it with caution and to see a doctor if you’re thinking about taking it as a supplement.

Jiaogulan for diabetes

One of the main benefits of jiaogulan has to do with lowering blood glucose levels. According to a clinical trial reported in Hormone and Metabolic Research, consumption of jiaogulan tea promotes blood glucose control and insulin sensitivity.

A subsequent study shared in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism reported that jiaogulan tea helps improve insulin response. Thus, it can support the health of patients with type 2 diabetes.

More recent research exhibited similar findings. In the animal study, those fed a jiaogulan extract showed lower sugar levels in fasting tests. Despite this, more evidence is still needed.

Jiaogulan para la diabetes.
Jiaogulan tea may be an interesting addition to the diet of diabetic patients. However, more research is still needed to verify this.

Bodyweight control

Jiaogulan supplements are not a miracle treatment for being overweight or suffering from obesity. In fact, we should always remember that weight loss requires a multidisciplinary approach, especially when it comes to diet.

With this clear, it’s worth noting that the herbal remedy has been shown to be an adjuvant for weight loss. In fact, a study shared through the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics determined that oral consumption of an extract of this plant can help improve body composition in overweight men and women.

Jiaogulan for high cholesterol

In Oriental medicine, jiaogulan and its derivatives have been used as a supplement to lower high cholesterol levels. In this regard, a study in the Journal of Functional Foods reported that the saponins present in this plant contribute to the modulation of intestinal gene expressions associated with plasma cholesterol.

Furthermore, these active ingredients promote the expression of genes for the synthesis and excretion of bile acids, which allows the regulation of hepatic cholesterol production. However, further studies are still needed.

Stress relief

Both jiaogulan extract and jiaogulan tea have been used for their benefits in combating states of stress. To be more precise, it’s recognized as an herb with adaptogenic qualities that can help stabilize the adrenal glands to decrease physical and mental responses to stress.

In this regard, a study conducted in South Korea and reported in Phytomedicine showed lower levels of stress in people who consumed an extract of jiaogulan leaves compared to the placebo group. The supplement was given for 8 weeks.

The possible side effects of jiaogulan

For most healthy adults, jiaogulan is considered safe.

However, it should be taken in moderation, according to the supplement manufacturer’s directions. In some, it causes sensitivity reactions, with nausea, digestive discomfort, and diarrhea.

Because the evidence is still limited, it’s not known how it may act or interfere in the presence of certain conditions. Therefore, its use is not recommended in the following cases:

  • Autoimmune diseases (such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.)
  • Circulatory problems or diseases that affect blood clotting
  • Patients undergoing treatment with anticoagulants, antidiabetics, and antidepressants
  • Pregnant or lactating women
  • People about to undergo surgery
  • Children

In general, it’s recommended to consume supplements of the plant after eating food. When taken on an empty stomach it can irritate the stomach. In addition, it can even cause other adverse effects, such as fatigue, dizziness, sweating, or tachycardia. If any of these effects occur, it’s best to consult a doctor.

Indigestión por jiaogulan.
Jiaogulan can cause adverse effects, such as fatigue, dizziness, sweating, or tachycardia. If any of these effects occur, it’s best to consult a doctor.

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How is jiaogulan consumed?

Right now, jiaogulan is available in teas, powders, capsules, and extracts. These are usually found in herbal or health food stores. It’s essential to follow the consumption recommendations given by the manufacturer and not to exceed the dosage.

How to prepare it as an infusion

Ingredients

  • 5 grams of dried and powdered jiaogulan
  • 250 milliliters of water

How to make it

  1. Bring the water to a boil and add the dried jiaogulan.
  2. Cover the drink and let it steep at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  3. After this time, strain and consume.
  4. You can have up to 2 cups per day (500 ml).

What to remember about jiaogulan

When exploring the remedies of traditional Chinese medicine, you will likely find references to jiaogulan. After all, it’s a plant that’s widely used as a natural adaptogen that’s suitable for combating stress and endocrine system problems.

However, there is still not enough evidence to affirm its safety and efficacy. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a first-choice treatment. It’s even recommended to consult a doctor before starting to take it.



  • Zhang, Y., Shi, G., Luo, Z., Wang, J., Wu, S., Zhang, X., & Zhao, Y. (2021). Activity Components from Gynostemma pentaphyllum for Preventing Hepatic Fibrosis and of Its Molecular Targets by Network Pharmacology Approach. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 26(10), 3006. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26103006
  • Huyen VTT, Phan DV, Thang P, et al. Antidiabetic effect of gynostemma pentaphyllum tea in randomly assigned type 2 diabetic patients. Horm Metab Res. 2010;42(05):353-357. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1248298
  • V. T. T. Huyen, D. V. Phan, P. Thang, N. K. Hoa, C. G. Östenson, “Gynostemma pentaphyllum Tea Improves Insulin Sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetic Patients”, Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, vol. 2013, Article ID 765383, 7 pages, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/765383
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  • Rao, A., Clayton, P., & Briskey, D. (2021). The effect of an orally‐dosed Gynostemma pentaphyllum extract (ActivAMP®) on body composition in overweight, adult men and women: A double‐blind, randomised, placebo‐controlled study. In Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. Wiley. https://doi.org/10.1111/jhn.12936
  • Liu, J., Li, Y., Shi, H., Wang, T., Wu, X., Sun, X., & Yu, L. (Lucy). (2016). Components characterization of total tetraploid jiaogulan ( Gynostemma pentaphyllum ) saponin and its cholesterol-lowering properties. In Journal of Functional Foods (Vol. 23, pp. 542–555). Elsevier BV. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2016.03.013
  • Choi, E.-K., Won, Y. H., Kim, S.-Y., Noh, S.-O., Park, S.-H., Jung, S.-J., Lee, C. K., Hwang, B. Y., Lee, M. K., Ha, K.-C., Baek, H.-I., Kim, H.-M., Ko, M.-H., & Chae, S.-W. (2019). Supplementation with extract of Gynostemma pentaphyllum leaves reduces anxiety in healthy subjects with chronic psychological stress: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. In Phytomedicine (Vol. 52, pp. 198–205). Elsevier BV. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2018.05.002