Jiaogulan and Diabetes (SQ-25)
Jiaogulan, or Gynostemma pentaphyllum, is a relatively lesser known herb but is one with outstanding health benefits. With more than 170 different types of saponins, Jiaogulan stands above most herbs for its tremendous disease preventing properties. Saponins are naturally occurring chemical compounds that give many herbs, including ginseng, their wide-ranging therapeutic qualities. The fact is Jiaogulan is known to contain the largest variety of these special compounds in comparison to any other plant; with ginseng containing only 28 different types of saponins!
Jiaogulan, also called ‘The Immortality Herb’, is known to increase longevity and ward off many risk factors leading to chronic diseases. One of the many areas where Jiaogulan shows benefit is diabetes. Unlike conventional anti-diabetic drugs, this unique Chinese herb influences the underlying causes responsible for this metabolic disorder development. Human clinical trials prove that Jiaogulan lowers blood glucose by improving insulin sensitivity. Jiaogulan not only helps to reduce blood glucose levels but works on multiple levels to bring additional benefits – clearly adding more value for people suffering from diabetes. As such, regular consumption of Jiaogulan tea can make a huge difference in the lives of diabetic patients.
There are basically two issues that trigger a spike in blood sugar levels; when the beta cells of the pancreas are not able to produce sufficient amounts of the hormone insulin and/or when the cells in the body lose their ability to utilize insulin efficiently (a condition known as insulin resistance). Insulin, as we know, helps muscle, liver and fat cells to absorb glucose from the blood and keep the sugar levels within normal healthy range.
Jiaogulan and Anti-Diabetic Benefits
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism evaluated the effect of the Jiaogulan tea on insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetic patients. The results suggested that Jiaogulan tea “exerted an antidiabetic effect by improving insulin sensitivity” .
Another significant study investigated the antidiabetic effect of Jiaogulan together with sulfonylurea (SU) in type 2 diabetic patients. SU is usually the first-line drug in the treatment of type 2 diabetes but considered mostly insufficient over long term. In addition, the increased SU dose is associated with an increased risk of hypoglycaemia. The study found that as an add-on therapy to SU, Jiaogulan improved the effectiveness of the conventional anti-diabetic drug. “Furthermore, there were potential benefits in terms of maintaining low-dose SU without symptoms of hypoglycaemia” .
Jiaogulan’s adaptogenic properties deserve a special mention here. The herb lowers blood glucose levels only if they are already too high, meaning there is no risk of hypoglycemia. It is because Jiaogulan has the special ability to bring balance in the body and can either kindle or slow down certain functions, on the basis of body’s requirement.
As an example of Jiaogulan’s unique adaptogenic qualities is that the herb can infuse energy if you are tired and it can also calm down your nerves in case you are stressed. In a nutshell, Jiaogulan restores balance in the body. Now, this is truly an amazing quality not all herbs possess. In fact, only 1 in 4,000 plants specifically meet the strict criteria to be classified as a true adaptogen, i.e. the plant has to be safe with no toxic side-effects, it should have the ability to increase the ability of our body to deal with any kind of internal or external stress, and it should be able to normalize overall physiological functions and brings balance. And Jiaogulan has got a check mark against each of these boxes.
Jiaogulan Aids in Weight Loss
Excess weight or obesity is known to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, not to mention cardiovascular disease and even several types of cancers. Jiaogulan works at many levels to help achieve weight loss . It stabilizes metabolism, regulates appetite, lowers cholesterol and above all exerts unique adaptogenic effects to achieve the weight loss benefit.
Jiaogulan is Overall Healthy: Added Bonus to Diabetic Patients
Improving insulin sensitivity, reducing blood sugar levels and melting down excess weight are some of the obvious benefits that make Jiaogulan a natural therapy to treat and manage type 2 diabetes. Jiaogulan brings along many other health benefits that are value added for diabetic patients.
Increased levels of sugar in the blood can lead to a range of other chronic diseases that often accompany diabetes. High levels of sugar circulating in the bloodstream promote oxidative damage and inflammation in both large and small blood vessels. This typically results in macro and micro-vascular complications, for example cardiovascular problems (stroke and heart disease), kidney dysfunctions and even failure, nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy), vision loss and other issues. Excessive damage to the blood vessels surrounding nerves can even lead to lower-limb amputations. Jiaogulan is a powerful anti-oxidant, is heart-healthy and also improves liver and kidney functions – important for diabetics who are prone to suffer damage to these organs in particular.
Jiaogulan is power packed with health promoting qualities and a variety of saponins present in the herb have a lot to do with the powerful benefits it offers. It also contains other bio-active compounds including a spectrum of vitamins, polysaccharides, bio-flavonoids, amino acids and trace minerals, all of these factors contributing in unique ways to make Jiaogulan a superior herb with tremendous health properties. Summing up, Jiaogulan helps to:
- Enhance body’s ability to produce anti-oxidants
- Improve metabolism
- Calm nervous system, relieve stress and anxiety
- Improve energy levels and reduces fatigue
- Regulate blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels
- Boost immune functions
Fight and prevent cancer
- Detoxify and improve liver functions
- Prevent pre-mature aging and increases life span
- Improve cognitive functions
- Huyen VT, Phan DV, Thang P, Hoa NK, Ostenson CG. Gynostemma pentaphyllum Tea Improves Insulin Sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetic Patients. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2013;2013:765383. doi: 10.1155/2013/765383. Epub 2013 Jan 31.
- V. T. T. Huyen, D. V. Phan, P. Thang, P. T. Ky, N. K. Hoa, and C. G. Ostenson, “Antidiabetic Effects of Add-On Gynostemma pentaphyllum Extract Therapy with Sulfonylureas in Type 2 Diabetic Patients,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012, Article ID 452313, 7 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/452313.
- Par et al. Studies Antiobesity effect of Gynostemma pentaphyllum extract (actiponin): A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Obesity. 2014.