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Gynostemma pentaphyllum

Gynostemma pentaphyllum (Southern Ginseng) is a herb given Ginseng status although not related to Panax Ginseng. It appears to share some saponins though, and is investigated for similar effects as True Ginseng.

Our evidence-based analysis on gynostemma pentaphyllum features 109 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Gynostemma pentaphyllum

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

Gynostemma Pentaphyllum is a plant which is sometimes referred to as either 'Southern Ginseng' or 'Cheap Ginseng' as it was used as a cheap substitute for Panax Ginseng (as aside from Codonopsis Pilosula, which was used as an adulterant for Panax Ginseng to sell it at the normal price but cut costs). Surprisingly, Gynostemma has a good content of Ginsenosides that were once thought to be wholly unique to Panax Ginseng. As such, the biological effects of Gynostemma and Panax seem to be quite similar except Gynostemma may be more anti-diabetic (due to the unique Gypenosides in Gynostemma, that are not in Panax).

There are limited human studies at the moment, as most studies are attempting to delineate the large amount of Gypenosides in this herb to see which ones can be seen as the 'active' compounds. Currently, we have two human studies suggesting that a tea made from Gynostemma can be used alongside standard anti-diabetic therapy and augment the efficacy of it over time (known as adjunct therapy).

Most of its 'beneficial' effects beyond the diabetic effects (which are mediated by a possible mix of AMPK activation and PTP1B inhibition; the amount each contributes to the overall effects unknown) come from inducing antioxidant enzymes and protecting cells from oxidative damage over time. There seems to be a motif where preloading and chronic loading is very protective at low doses, and acute supplementation or rehabilitation (taking the supplement after the stressor) appears to be less effective. As such, the health effects of Gynostemma Pentaphyllum appear to be more prophylactic rather than rehabilitative or therapeutic.

This herb is also touted for youthfulness and longevity, but neither claim has been explored. Additionally, the anti-cancer effects are still in beginning stages of research but the effects appear to be very similar in many cell lines; some compound in the Gypenoside fragment may be an inducer of p53, a tumor suppressor gene, as the downstream events associated with p53 activity have been noted repeatedly (although direct kinetics between Gypenosides and p53 have not yet been investigated; this is a likely theory but not established)

Overall, this is a more anti-diabetic Panax Ginseng; the downside is that the other benefits associated with Panax Ginseng (adaptogenic, cognitive enhancing, anti-fatigue) have not yet been assessed properly with Gynostemma Pentaphyllum.

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How to Take

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

Although not too many trials have been conducted, the two studies noting that Gynostemma Pentaphyllum could be useful to help diabetes used 6g of the leaves (dry weight) and made tea from that. The leaves themselves are a good source of both classes of active ingredients (the saponins, of which Gypenosides are a subset, and the flavonoids), and this is currently the best known dosage to use.

Alternatively, due to the similarity between Gynostemma pentaphyllum gypenosides and Panax ginseng ginsenosides they may have a similar active level for isolated alkaloids. 100-500mg gypenosides may be a good educated guess to start from.

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Human Effect Matrix

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The Human Effect Matrix summarizes human studies to tell you what effects Gynostemma pentaphyllum has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

Full details are available to Examine members.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
grade-c Notable Very High See 2 studies
Decrease in blood glucose in diabetics given gynostemma tea or root appears to be greater than other supplements; currently no studies in otherwise healthy persons.
grade-c Notable Very High See 2 studies
Preliminary evidence in diabetics suggest potent HbA1c reducing effects (6g of the root reducing HbA1c by 2% over a few months)
grade-c Notable Very High See 2 studies
An improvement in insulin sensitivity is noted in diabetics which is fairly notable; no studies in otherwise healthy persons at this time
grade-c Minor - See study
A decrease in fasting insulin has been noted with supplementation in diabetics
grade-c Minor - See study
Liver enzymes in a model of fatty liver are decreased with gynostemma ingestion
grade-c Minor - See study
Long term, but not short term, ingestion of gynostemma tea appears to reduce fat mass in diabetics; no studies in healthy persons yet
grade-c - - See study
HDL appears unaffected
grade-c - - See study
LDL cholesterol appears unaffected
grade-c - - See study
No significant alterations in triglycerides noted with supplementation
grade-c - - See study
No significant influences on uric acid

Studies Excluded from Consideration

  • Safety study[1]

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Things to Note

Is a Form Of

Other Functions:

Primary Function:

Also Known As

Southern Ginseng, Jiao Gu-lan, Giao-Co-Lam (Tea), jiaogulan

Goes Well With

  • Has not yet been tested for drug-drug interactions in regards to P450 enzymes

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Click here to see all 109 references.