Losing weight is not simply about looking good. It is also about feeling good and energetic, and improving the quality of your life in a number of substantial ways. A recent research study suggests that even small amount of weight loss, as low as 5 %, has whopping health benefits  and reduces the underlying risk factors for many chronic, life-threatening and incapacitating diseases such as type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Excess body weight is also linked with infertility, pregnancy complications, joint pain, sleeping disorder, depression, asthma and even cancer.
However, picking the right weight loss strategy can be a challenge. Weight loss seekers often find themselves contemplating whether a particular weight loss program or supplement is safe and natural:
- would it make them feel energetic and vibrant
- would they get enough nutrition
- would they be able to achieve other health goals besides losing weight, and most importantly
- are there going to be any side-effects?
A number of promising anti-obesity drugs are launched every year but considering the serious side effects, most of these fade away from the market or shunned by consumers over time.
Safe Weight Loss Using Jiaogulan
Jiaogulan, or Gynostemma pentaphyllum, is a Chinese herb hailed as “The Immortality Herb” and is also known as Southern Ginseng. An extensive body of research supports Jiaogulan’s tremendous health benefits and disease prevention capabilities, which are largely believed due to the presence of chemical compounds called saponins. Scientists have so far found more than 170 different types of saponins in Jiaogulan, an overwhelming concentration that gives the herb a cutting edge over other herbs in terms of anti-oxidant and adaptogenic properties.
Jiaogulan has been shown to reduce the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, slow premature aging, inhibit cancer growth and boost immunity. And when combined with other approaches such as healthy diet, exercise and being generally active throughout the day, Jiaogulan also helps in weight loss management.
How Jiaogulan Helps Losing Weight?
Metabolism, the rate at which the body burns calories, plays a central role when it comes to weight loss. And while your metabolism is largely guided by genetic factors, unhealthy lifestyle such as poor diet choices, smoking, alcohol bingeing, sedentary routine and ongoing stress has a definite hand in determining your ultimate weight. Bringing a balance to the rate at which our body expends versus creates energy is crucial to achieve weigh loss. As an adaptogenic, Jiaogulan brings this balance in more ways than one.
Several Synergistic Mechanisms
When it comes to Jiaogulan’s weight loss effects, there is not one but many synergistic mechanisms that are at work. Jiaogulan has amazing adaptogenic, metabolism-stabilizing and cholesterol lowering effects that work collaboratively – making this miracle herb a perfect weight loss solution that is not only safe, non-toxic but also overall healthy.
- AMPK Activation and Improving Fat Metabolism
Jiaogulan is extremely effective in lowering bad cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. It achieves this feat by strengthening liver’s ability to improve lipid metabolism. Jiaogulan helps the liver to convert sugar and carbohydrates into energy instead of triglycerides that are otherwise stored as fatty deposits in the body. These reasons are prompting researchers across China and Japan to look at Jiaogulan’s potential in treating people suffering from atherosclerosis and obesity.
A 2013 study published in the journal Obesity found that Jiaogulan may have anti-obesity effects. The group that was given heat-processed Gynostemma pentaphyllum extract showed a significant decrease in total abdominal fat area, body weight, body fat mass, percent body fat, and body mass index in comparison to the placebo group .
The study reported that actiponin in Jiaogulan extract brings weight reduction by activating an enzyme called AMPK or AMP-activated protein kinase. The study concluded that, “data from our study suggest that actiponin is a safe and effective antiobesity agent. In these regards, actiponin is the newly reported edible AMPK activator, thus it will be of interest to investigate long-term effect of actiponin supplementation on improving severe obesity. Combined with life style modification or weight-reducing diet program, the antiobesity effect of actiponin will become more pronounced.”
AMPK is an enzyme operating as a master metabolic switch that determines whether the energy available to the body should be used to meet immediate energy requirements at hand or stored as fat for any future use. AMPK basically acts as a central regulator of lipid and glucose metabolism. On activation, the enzyme signals the body to start expending the energy rather than storing it as fat. Interestingly, exercise also activates AMPK in muscle and the liver.
high blood sugar levels. A good (but fine) balance in the blood sugar levels is important for our overall health, to regulate insulin and other hormones, to signal the body to burn the stored fat and to improve metabolism – events that are extremely crucial to help you lose weight. Jiaogulan reduces blood sugar appropriate levels and improves insulin sensitivity , which has been thrown off balance by increased blood glucose and a resulting spike in insulin, thus controlling diabetes induced weight.
Another mechanism at play here is Jiaogulan’s ability to inhibit cholesterol absorption by the body. Our body needs cholesterol to make bile acids that are released into our intestines for proper digestion of food. The saponins in Jiaogulan have special properties, binding to the bile and cholesterol molecules and preventing their reabsorption by the body. These attached fat molecules are flushed out of the body, thus minimizing the risk associated with heart attack, stroke and increased weight gain. Interestingly, this is how most cholesterol lowering drugs works in a similar way, but with many serious side effects.
- Other Factors at Play
Moreover, Jiaogulan is an adaptogen, which means it will exert no side effects yet targets multiple body systems to bring over-all balance and help the body to develop resistance to stress. As a true adaptogen, Jiaogulan brings a healthy balance between the workings of the central nervous system, endocrine glands and other organs. This helps to calm nerves, manage depression and anxiety, and promote healthy sleep – effects that are helpful in regulating excessive calorie intake in emotional eaters and poor sleepers. In addition, Jiaogulan boosts energy levels and can be a useful natural supplement to increase stamina and reduce fatigue during exercise.
We encourage our readers to choose healthy eating habits – for example preferring whole, fresh food over calorie-dense, nutrient-poor processed food – and be physically active to lose weight. And next time, why don’t you ditch cold drinks and alcoholic beverages and have a warm cup of Jiaogulan herbal tea instead? You will feel the difference.
Risks and Side Effects
As with any herbal supplement, see how your body responds to a small intake before increasing your intake gradually. Jiaogulan is not recommended for small children, pregnant and lactating women. High doses may cause slight nausea and increased bowel movements. Consult your doctor if you are taking any blood pressure lowering, blood thinning or immunosuppressant drugs.
- Magkos et al. Effects of Moderate and Subsequent Progressive Weight Loss on Metabolic Function and Adipose Tissue Biology in Humans with Obesity. Cell Metabolism. 2016
- Park SH, Huh TL, Kim SY, Oh MR, Tirupathi Pichiah PB, Chae SW, Cha YS. "Antiobesity effect of Gynostemma pentaphyllum extract (actiponin): A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial." Obesity (Silver Spring, Md). 2013 Jun 26.
- Huyen et al. Gynostemma pentaphyllum Tea Improves Insulin Sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetic Patients. J Nutr Metab. 2013