Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum)

What Is Jiaogulan

Jiaogulan is also known as five-leaf ginseng, sweet tea vine, southern ginseng, or Gynostemma pentaphyllum, which is a perennial climbing vine belonging to the family Cucurbitaceae. It first appeared in <Jiuhuang Bencao> (Materia Medica for Relief of Famines) in 1,406 AD.

There are at least 17 species of Gynostemma, which are mainly distributed in tropical Asia, and 9 of them are unique to China. Gynostemma pentaphyllum is the most representative.

The majority of Gypentemma pentaphyllum is wild and distributed in China, India, Bangladesh, Japan, Korea, New Guinea. They like a humid and mild climate and often grow in forests, bushes, and roadsides on mountain slopes at an altitude of 300-3200 meters.

Earlier, it was used in folk medicine as herbal teas, alcohol extracts, or dietary supplements. In 1986, it was considered a valuable Chinese medicinal material to be developed by the Chinese Science and Technology Commission. In 2002, it was included in health products by the Chinese Ministry of Health.

Gynostemma pentaphyllum

In summer and autumn each year, people gather all the parts of Gynostemma pentaphyllum, remove their impurities, wash them with water, dry them in the sun, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

The main active ingredient of Jiaogulan is saponins. At present, it has been found to contain 201 saponin components. 6 of them are ginsenosides. In addition, it contains mannose, rhamnose, glucuronic acid, galacturonic acid, glucose, galactose, xylose, arabinose, ombuin, isorhamnetin, quercetin, ombuoside, rutin, yixingensin, kaempferol, stearic acid, amino acids, vitamins, alkaloids, volatile oils, organic acids, and some trace elements.

According to <Jiuhuang Bencao>, the medicinal nature of Jiaogulan is relatively cold, with a slightly sweet and bitter taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the spleen and lung meridians.

In the last 30 years, Jiaogulan has been widely used to benefit qi and invigorate the spleen, resolve phlegm and stop cough, clear heat and remove toxins, treat hyperlipidemia, type 2 diabetes, essential hypertension, thrombocytopenia, chronic headache, chronic atrophic gastritis, Leukopenia, peptic ulcer, pharyngitis, chronic bronchitis, and cancer.


  • Anti-oxidation, enhancing superoxide dismutase activity and delaying aging.
  • Reducing liver damage induced by CCL4 and protecting the liver.
  • Stimulating the release of insulin, inhibiting the activity of α-amylase and α-glycosidase, and treating type 2 diabetes.
  • Reducing the content of total cholesterol, triacylglycerol, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the serum and liver tissue of experimental hyperlipidemia rats, and increasing the content of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
  • Reducing plasma endothelin (ET) content and preventing atherosclerosis.
  • Increasing the pain threshold and inhibiting the pain caused by the mouse hot plate experiment and glacial acetic acid experiment.
  • Increasing the quality of the spleen and thymus, and improving non-specific immunity.
  • Benefiting qi and invigorating the spleen, treating fatigue and loss of appetite caused by qi deficiency in spleen and stomach.
  • Promoting the production of body fluid, treating thirst, dry throat, and upset caused by deficiency of both qi and yin.
  • Clearing lung heat, treating cough and thick phlegm caused by dryness-heat in the lungs.
  • Resolving phlegm, treating cough and phlegm caused by deficiency of lung qi.
  • Removing heat toxins, treating skin ulcers and abscesses.
  • It can cooperate with pentobarbital sodium to extend the sleep time of experimental mice.
  • Inhibiting the proliferation of human adrenocortical carcinoma ACC SW-13 cells, melanoma B16 cells, lung cancer A549 cells, and inducing apoptosis of leukemia HL-60 cells and lung cancer H460 cells.
  • Studies have found that its saponins can improve the deficits of spatial memory and habit learning in rats. It can be used as an adjuvant therapeutic agent for Parkinson’s syndrome.
  • Clinical studies have confirmed that it can treat leukopenia caused by radiotherapy and chemotherapy.


  • It can be used in combination with Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae), Fu Ling (Poria), etc. to invigorate the spleen, alleviate fatigue, and loss of appetite caused by qi deficiency.
  • It can be used in combination with Chuan Bei Mu (Fritillaria cirrhosa), Bai He (Bulbus Lilii), etc. to nourish yin and moisten the lungs, treat cough and phlegm caused by dryness-heat in the lungs.
  • It can be used in combination with Ye Jiao Teng (Caulis Polygoni Multiflori), Mai Dong (Radix Ophiopogonis), etc. to treat palpitations and insomnia caused by qi deficiency or yin deficiency.
  • It can be used in combination with Bai Hua She She Cao (Hedyotis Diffusa), Hai Piao Xiao (Os Sepiae), Chuan Bei Mu (Fritillaria cirrhosa), etc. to treat gastric and duodenal ulcers.
  • It can be used in combination with Tai Zi Shen (Radix Pseudostellariae), Shan Yao (Rhizoma Dioscoreae), Nan Sha Shen (Radix Adenophorae), etc. to benefit qi and nourish yin, promote the production of body fluid, relieve thirst, dry throat, and upset caused by the deficiency of both qi and yin.

Side Effects

  • Jiaogulan has been included in health products with almost no side effects.
  • A small number of people taking it may cause nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, dizziness, and tinnitus.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Jiaogulan should be controlled at 10-20g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, tea, or mashed for external use.
  • Patients with bloating, diarrhea, or constipation should not take it.
  • Patients with hemorrhagic or autoimmune diseases should not take it.
  • Patients should not take it for two weeks before or after surgery.
  • Pregnant and lactating women should not take it.