Jiaogulan and Cancer

Jiaogulan and Cancer: All You Need to Know

Jun 7, 2023 | Read Time: 20 min.

Jason Dunn

Key Points

According to the latest research, Jiaogulan contains powerful anti-cancer components that can:
  1. 1.
    Protect and boost your immune system.
  2. 2.
    Prevent oxidation damage to your body.
  3. 3.
    Kill cancer cells in a variety of ways.
  4. 4.
    Prevent tumors from growing and spreading to other parts of the body.
  5. 5.
    Deprive tumors of energy.
  6. 6.
    Reshape your gut bacteria in a way that prevents cancer.
  7. 7.
    Target cancer cells without harming normal cells.
  8. 8.
    Improve the effectiveness of conventional chemotherapy drugs while protecting the body from their serious side effects.

With a legendary reputation in Chinese medicine, Gynostemma pentaphyllum makino, also known as Jiaogulan, has long been used as a tea for its therapeutic effects in the treatment of several diseases, including hepatitis, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

More recently, however, scientific research has shown Jiaogulan to have potent effects on cancer that remain unknown to most people.

That's right, this ancient herb may hold a key to preventing and fighting cancer and improving your overall health.

We will delve into the fascinating world of Jiaogulan cancer research and understand how the herb can help us fight one of the deadliest diseases known to man.


According to the World Health Organization, 10 million people worldwide died of cancer in 2020 alone.

If you are an American, there is a one in three chance that you will get cancer during your lifetime. If you are a man, the odds are closer to one in two. Almost everyone in America either knows someone who currently has cancer or who has already died from the disease.

Jiaogulan tea has been used for centuries in China as a cure-all for various ailments. But now, research has shown that the plant may be more than just a herbal remedy - it could potentially be one of the most effective ways to prevent chronic diseases.

So what makes Jiaogulan so special?

For starters, it enhances the body's own defenses by protecting and boosting the immune system. A strong immune system is vital for fighting off diseases, including preventing the formation of tumors.

Additionally, it has the rare ability to stimulate your body’s own production of the most powerful antioxidants. This helps protect your body against free radical damage - which can lead to cancer and many other illnesses.

Finally, its chemical components like gypenosides (a type of saponins), flavonoids, and polysaccharides can directly combat cancer.

With all these exciting discoveries being made about Jiaogulan's potential benefits for our bodies, it's no wonder that this herb is quickly gaining popularity among health enthusiasts. 

The Anti-Cancer Components of Gynostemma Pentaphyllum

jiaogulan components

The major active constituents found in Gynostemma pentaphyllum - gypenoside saponins, flavonoids, and polysaccharides - are the basis for the anti-cancer effects of the plant.

Research has revealed that these compounds can kill cancer cells, and stop them from growing, dividing, spreading, and using energy effectively. These are all important ways to shrink tumors. 

Moreover, studies have demonstrated that gypenosides can enhance the efficacy of chemotherapy drugs while reducing their side effects.

The herb's flavonoids also show promising potential in cancer therapy. These substances can stop tumors from growing and spreading in different ways such as stopping their cells from dividing and making them die.

Gynostemma pentaphyllum polysaccharides have also been reported to have anti-tumor properties by activating the immune system to stimulate T-cells and natural killer (NK) cells, which play a critical role in eliminating cancer cells.

It is worth noting that the combination of different components found in the plant could potentially result in synergistic effects against tumors.

Gynostemma Supports Your Immune System to Fight Cancer

the immune system

It is believed the immune system plays a vital role in the prevention of cancer, though our current understanding of how our bodies fight the disease is far from complete.

Immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, is a relatively new type of cancer treatment designed to boost the body’s natural defenses to fight the disease.

Based on the idea that the immune system can be ‘woken up’ so it can fight cancer, immunotherapy has shown promise in early clinical trials.

Jiaogulan can protect and improve immune system function according to numerous human and animal studies.

It also has potent antioxidant effects that can help prevent damage to your cells and DNA caused by free radicals.

Moreover, Gynostemma has been shown to boost the immune system, helping it fight off cancer and other diseases.

Taking advantage of these properties can give your body the support it needs to stay healthy and strong.

Gynostemma Protects the Immune System

The herb protects your immune system in two different ways:

  1. Stimulates internal antioxidants: It increases the levels of Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), Glutathione Peroxidase (Gpx), and Catalase (CAT) – the three most powerful antioxidants in existence. These protect your immune system, organs, and cells, including your DNA, from free radical damage.
  2. Detoxifies the body: As a central detoxifier, Glutathione has anti-inflammatory effects and helps prevent cell damage caused by environmental toxins. It also regulates protein and DNA synthesis and cell growth and is critical in helping your immune system perform its role of fighting infections and preventing cancer.

With age, our natural supply of these crucial antioxidants declines, leaving us more vulnerable to disease. But one clinical trial with 51 elderly patients showed that taking Gynostemma pentaphyllum extract for just 2 months can increase SOD levels in the body significantly.

Gynostemma Boosts the Immune System

Gynostemma has been found to boost the immune response by increasing the number of T-cells and natural killer cells in our bodies.

T-cells and natural killer (NK) cells are two types of immune cells that can help fight cancer.

Both types of cells can release chemicals (cytokines) that can activate other immune cells or make tumor cells more visible to the immune system.

By increasing the number of T-cells and NK cells, the immune system can have a better chance of finding and destroying malignant cells before they spread or become resistant to treatment.

Furthermore, Gynostemma has been found to enhance the immune system's ability to recognize and attack tumor cells by reducing the amounts of a certain protein (called Tim-3) that can make the immune system less active and allow the cancer cells to escape.

Another study has shown that polysaccharides from Gynostemma pentaphyllum can slow down tumor growth and protect the organs and cells that fight infections in mice with stomach cancer. This indicates that its polysaccharides play an important role in strengthening immune function. 

Jiaogulan Triggers Apoptosis

jiaogulan triggers apoptosis

Apoptosis, or cell death, is a natural process that helps the body get rid of damaged or unwanted cells.

When apoptosis is disrupted, cancer cells can survive and multiply uncontrollably. Therefore, induction of apoptosis in cancer cells is one of the strategies to stop their growth and spread.

Both the flavonoids and the gypenosides in Jiaogulan have been found to cause cancer cells to stop growing and die.

Gypenosides have been shown to induce apoptosis in oral, breast, lung, colon, liver, renal, stomach, esophagus, brain, skin, cervix, blood(leukemia), and prostate cancer cell lines both in vitro and in vivo.

But how does it work? It looks like some harmful molecules – reactive oxygen species (ROS) - are particularly important for gypenosides to kill tumor cells and make them self-destruct.

When cancer cells are in the presence of gypenosides, they end up having more of these harmful molecules inside them, which can break their DNA and cause them to start dying.

Additionally, they can cause cell apoptosis through various signaling pathways, or communication channels, inside the cells. These pathways can send signals to activate or deactivate certain proteins that control cell growth, survival, death, and other functions.

Following are some of the pathways that Gynostemma can affect.

The Mitochondrial Pathway

This pathway involves the mitochondria, which are the energy factories of the cell.

Jiaogulan can change the balance of proteins that can either protect or damage the mitochondria and affect their ability to produce energy and release molecules that induce apoptosis.

It can also cause the mitochondria to produce more ROS, which can damage the cell.

The Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) Pathway

The ER is a network of membranes that helps make and process proteins.

Jiaogulan can cause the ER to be unable to handle the amount or quality of proteins that it needs to process.

This can lead to the accumulation of misfolded or unfolded proteins, which in turn can trigger apoptosis.

Jiaogulan can also cause the ER to release more ROS, which can affect other pathways and functions in the cell.

The DNA Damage/Repair Pathway

Jiaogulan can cause damage to the genetic material of tumor cells, which means that it causes DNA errors that need to be repaired.

If the damage is too severe to be repaired, the cell can activate apoptosis.

The BCL Protein Family Pathway

Apoptosis is controlled by a group of proteins called the BCL family, which can either promote or prevent cell death depending on their interactions.

Flavonoids extracted from Gynostemma pentaphyllum, including kaempferol and quercetin, can reduce the expression of BCL-2 and BCL-xL, which are anti-apoptotic BCL proteins that prevent cell death, and increase the expression of BAX and BAD, which are pro-apoptotic BCL proteins that promote cell death.

The flavonoids can also activate caspase-3, which is an enzyme that executes apoptosis by breaking down other proteins in the cell.

Gynostemma Blocks Cancer Cell Growth and Division

gynostemma stops cancer cell growth and division

Cancer cells are abnormal cells that grow and multiply uncontrollably, forming tumors and invading other tissues.

Cells grow and divide in a cycle that has four steps:

  1. They get ready to copy their DNA.
  2. They make a copy of their DNA.
  3. They check if their DNA is correct and fix any mistakes.
  4. They split into two new cells.

Normally, the cell cycle has checkpoints that make sure everything is going well and there are no errors or damage in the cell’s DNA. If something goes wrong, the cell can pause or stop the cycle to fix the problem or die (step 3). This is a way of preventing abnormal or harmful cells from multiplying.

However, some cancer cells can avoid these checkpoints and keep growing and dividing even when they have errors or damage in their DNA. This makes them more dangerous and harder to treat.

The process of stopping the growth and division of cells is called cell cycle arrest.

Gynostemma’s gypenosides have been shown to stop cancer cells from growing and dividing.

By stopping their cell cycle, Gynostemma can prevent them from dividing and cause them to die.

Gynostemma can disrupt the cell cycle by changing the levels of proteins that control cell division and growth. These proteins are like timers or switches that tell the cell when to start or stop dividing.

By having more of some of these proteins made, they can stick to the switches and stop them from working. This can make tumor cells stay in the first step of the cycle and not move on to the next steps.

Gynostemma can also lower the levels of some proteins that tell the cell to move on to the next steps. 

Finally, the herb can activate proteins that can sense any DNA problems and cause the cell cycle to stop if these cannot be fixed.

Gynostemma Can Stop Cancer Metastasis

jiaogulan inhibits metastasis

Cancer cells can sometimes break away from the original tumor and travel to other parts of the body. This is called metastasis and it makes cancer harder to treat and more dangerous.

Stopping cancer from spreading is crucial for successful treatment, and Gynostemma’s gypenosides have been shown to slow down or stop the movement of cancer cells by affecting their shape and structure and by interfering with proteins that help them move.

Microfilament Network Collapse

One of the ways in which Gynostemma interferes with the movement of cancer cells is by causing their microfilament network to collapse.

Microfilaments are an important component of cell structure and function, allowing cells to move and change shape as needed.

When these filaments collapse, however, they can no longer support the cell’s movement to surrounding tissues. As a result, the cell becomes trapped in place and unable to spread throughout the body.

Interfering with MMPs

Gynostemma can also interfere with some proteins that help cancer cells move, called MMPs. These proteins can break down the surrounding tissue and make it easier for the cells to move around (invasion and migration).

By blocking MMPs, Gynostemma can effectively cut off one of the main pathways that tumor cells use to spread to other tissues and organs.

Jiaogulan Can Deprive Cancer Cells of Energy

Cancer cells need energy and other materials to grow and survive. They get these from glucose, a type of sugar, by breaking it down in a process called glycolysis.

Jiaogulan’s gypenosides have been shown to have inhibitory effects on glycolysis in different types of cancer cells by lowering the levels of some enzymes and proteins that are important for the process.

This can reduce energy production and increase the accumulation of toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS) in cancer cells, which can lead to cell death or senescence, and prevent tumor formation and progression.

Gynostemma Can Boost the Effectiveness of Chemotherapy Drugs

A study published in the journal Molecules showed that combining Gynostemma with two common cancer drugs can make liver and esophageal cancer cells more sensitive to the drugs, and as a result, more tumor cells died.

The herb seems to do this by interfering with the process of autophagy, which is how cells get rid of damaged parts and survive.

This can make the tumor cells stop growing and dividing, and unable to fix their DNA damage, which leads to their death.

To better understand this mechanism, we can visualize two scenarios:

  •  In the first scenario without Jiaogulan, cancer cells are able to protect themselves from chemotherapy by activating autophagy. They break down their own cellular components that were damaged by the chemotherapy drugs and recycle them for energy and nutrients, which helps them survive.
  • In the second scenario with Jiaogulan present, however, this protective mechanism is impaired because of the inhibition of autophagy. Cancer cells are then unable to repair themselves effectively, leading to more damage caused by chemotherapy.

The potential benefits of using Gynostemma as an adjunct therapy in cancer cases are significant. Not only can it enhance the effectiveness of conventional treatments, but it could also help to overcome cancer's ability to resist chemotherapy drugs, which is often observed in advanced cancers.

Additionally, Gynostemma has protective effects on the immune system and the body as a whole from the harmful side effects of chemotherapy drugs, improving the quality of life for patients. It has even been shown to reduce the rates of cancer relapse after treatment.

In summary, combining Gynostemma with chemotherapy drugs holds great promise for improving treatment outcomes. 

By boosting the effectiveness of these treatments while protecting and improving the immune function of cancer patients, this herb offers hope for those facing difficult diagnoses. 

Gynostemma Targets Cancer Cells Without Harming Normal Cells

Gynostemma is capable of targeting cancer cells without harming normal ones, making it a promising natural treatment option.

According to a study, gypenosides from Gynostemma were found to have a potent effect in stopping the growth of breast cancer cells.

Unlike other cancer drugs that can cause severe side effects, however, it did not harm any of the healthy cells.

In addition, many other studies into the toxicity of Gynostemma have shown that it is completely non-toxic to the body.

Final Thoughts

While more studies are needed to completely understand the mechanisms behind Gynostemma's anti-cancer properties, it is clear that this herb has great potential as an aid in the treatment of various types of cancers.

Its unique ability to selectively target cancerous cells without damaging healthy ones makes it stand out from other traditional treatments.

That being said, it is important to discuss this with your healthcare provider before considering adding Gynostemma to your current treatment.

So why not add this superfood herb to your diet? Not only will you enjoy its many health benefits, but you will also be doing your part in preventing or even beating cancer once and for all!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does taking Jiaogulan as part of cancer treatment cause side effects?

A: If you are considering Jiaogulan as part of your cancer treatment, it's important to be aware of the potential drug interactions and side effects.

While the herb has shown great promise, it can interact with some prescription drugs.

As with any alternative therapy, it is crucial to speak with your healthcare provider before trying Jiaogulan.

Q: Can Gynostemma be used as a preventative measure for cancer, or is it only effective as a treatment?

A: If you are looking for a natural way to prevent cancer, Gynostemma is certainly worth considering. While it is primarily studied for its anti-cancer properties, research suggests that regular consumption of this herb could help reduce the risk of developing most types of cancer in the first place.

Gynostemma has powerful antioxidant effects and its compounds have been shown to fight inflammation and promote a healthy immune system, which is vital for preventing cancer of any type.

It can also balance your gut bacteria, which is important for preventing colorectal cancer. 

By incorporating Gynostemma into your diet or taking it as a supplement, you may be able to give your body an extra layer of protection against this devastating disease.

Q: Can Jiaogulan be beneficial for lung cancer?

A: Jiaogulan has been found to have exciting potential in the treatment of lung cancer. Studies have shown that gypenosides and flavonoids extracted from the plant both have the ability to suppress the growth and proliferation of most human lung cancer cells.

Q: Is there a recommended dosage of Gynostemma for cancer patients?

A: When it comes to using Gynostemma as a potential treatment for cancer, it's important to approach the topic with sensitivity.

While there isn't necessarily a 'recommended' dosage for cancer patients, many studies have shown promising results when using this herb in conjunction with traditional treatments.

It's important to note that every individual is different, and the best course of action would be to consult with a healthcare professional who can provide personalized guidance.

Q: Are there any interactions between Gynostemma and other medications or supplements that cancer patients should be aware of?

A: If you have cancer or another serious disease, it is important to be aware of any potential interactions between Gynostemma and other medications or supplements you may be taking.

While the herb is generally considered safe, it can interact with certain drugs such as blood thinners, antidepressants, immunosuppressants, and diabetes medications.

It is important to consult with your doctor before adding any new supplement to your regimen, especially if you're undergoing cancer treatment. Your doctor can help determine the right dosage for you and ensure that there are no harmful interactions.

Remember, safety should always come first when it comes to managing your health during treatment.