Gynostemma is one of the best-known and most popular foods. It offers a whole variety of health benefits thanks to its highly valuable chemical compounds.
Gynostemma (Gynostemma pentaphyllum) is also known as Jiaogulan. It is native to China and some other countries of the Asian region. It is probably one of the best studied herbs of traditional Chinese medicine.
We know that the power of many therapeutic foods lies in the synergistic action of their bioactive / phyto-chemical compounds. Many of such compounds are often unique and can only be found in a small number of species.
Ex., some of the beneficial chemicals that have been isolated in Gynostemma pentaphyllum are: a) dammarane-type saponins/glycosides: gypenosides GC1 to GC7, and b) other gypenosides V, XIV, XLII-XLVI, gynosaponins TN-1, -2, and gymnemaside VI. (Ref. 1)
While for most people these scientific names don't mean much, bio-active compounds in general - like saponins - are believed to be useful for the healthy function of the body, in particular as neuro-protective agents. (Ref. 2)
But let's have a look at specific health benefits of Gynostemma powder, as concluded from some existing research papers.
Many studies support the suggestion that Gynostemma has a high antioxidant potential.
One study showed that Gynostemma can boost activity levels of the anti-oxidative enzymes manganese superoxide dismutase (Mn-SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and thus protect from ischemia injury as a result of oxygen and glucose deprivation in the brain. (Ref. 3)
Another study demonstrated the potential of gypenosides found in Gynostemma to provide antioxidant protection for phagocytes and other types of cells, and increase valuable mitochondrial enzyme activity. The authors of this study conclude that: "The extensive antioxidant effect of [Gynostemma Pentaphyllum] may be valuable to the prevention and treatment of various diseases such as atherosclerosis, liver disease and inflammation." (Ref. 4)
Further analysis proposes classification of Gynostemma as an adaptogen, thanks to its high saponin content. Adaptogens are believed to protect the body from external stresses and damage, and help it to maintain homeostasis. (Ref. 5)
The idea of Gynostemma being an adaptogenic herb may also be supported by other research work. The treatment with Gynostemma extract of mice with stress-induced anxiety disorders produced anti-anxiety (anxiolytic) effects, specifically via modulating the activity of dopamine and serotonin neurons in the brain. (Ref. 6)
Taking into account this scientific evidence, we may conclude that:
detoxification of the body, thanks to Gynostemma's antioxidant potential, and
support of the brain and the central nervous system delivered by this plant -
are just two ways in which Gynostemma powder may help us deal with tiredness and chronic fatigue, and thus function as an energy and health food as well.
Such an antioxidant/phyto-chemical boost can certainly be a positive factor in fighting tiredness and low energy levels.
Apart from that, there is more evidence of Gynostemma's effectiveness in fighting several other medical conditions, including diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular conditions. (Ref. 7, 8 and 9)