The Antioxidant Power of Jiaogulan for Your Body and Mind

Jun 9, 2023 | Read Time: 12 min.

Jason Dunn

Key Points

  • Antioxidants produced by our bodies are thousands of times more effective than antioxidants we can get from antioxidant rich foods, vitamins, or supplements.

  • The most powerful antioxidants in existence are superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, and catalase. These are absolutely vital for good health and longevity, but difficult or impossible to obtain through diet.

  • Jiaogulan does NOT act as a simple dietary antioxidant in the same way fruits, vegetables, and other teas like green tea do.

  • Instead, Jiaogulan stimulates the body's own production of all 3 most powerful internal antioxidants - superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, and catalase.

  • Superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase have been directly correlated by scientific research to both good health and longevity.

You may have heard of antioxidants, the molecules that protect your cells from the harmful effects of free radicals.

Free radicals are unstable and reactive atoms that can damage your DNA, proteins, and membranes, leading to aging, inflammation, and various diseases.

Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals and prevent or repair their damage, thus enhancing your health and longevity.

When you think of antioxidants, you probably think of fruits and vegetables, which are indeed rich in antioxidants and very important to consume regularly for good health.

However, when it comes to protecting yourself from free radical damage, there may be a better option.

Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum) is also known as the "immortality herb" because of its remarkable ability to promote longevity and vitality.

It has many health benefits that have been confirmed by modern scientific research, such as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, regulating blood sugar and insulin, protecting the liver and kidneys, enhancing immunity and preventing infections, reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, improving memory and cognition, relieving stress and anxiety, and even fighting cancer.

But how does Jiaogulan achieve all these benefits? The answer lies at least in part in its antioxidant properties.

Jiaogulan contains a unique group of compounds called gypenosides (a type of saponins), which are similar to the ginsenosides found in ginseng.

These gypenosides have strong antioxidant activity and can modulate various biological pathways to stimulate the body's own production of endogenous antioxidants - the most potent oxidant scavengers in existence.

In this article, we will explore the antioxidant power of Jiaogulan for your body and mind.

We will explain how Jiaogulan protects your cells from oxidative damage and how it boosts your antioxidant levels and improves your quality of life.

What Are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants first became popular in the 1990's, when scientists began to understand free radicals and the impact they have on our bodies.

Free radicals are atoms or molecules that are very unstable and react easily with cellular structures around them because they contain unpaired electrons.

Free radicals can damage a cell's DNA, proteins, lipids, and cell membranes by stealing their electrons through a process called oxidation. (This is why free radical damage is also called “oxidative damage”.)

Free Radical Damage

When free radicals oxidize important parts of the cell, those parts can no longer function normally, and this can eventually kill the damaged cell.

Not only that, but the newly oxidized molecules will start acting like free radicals themselves, damaging other healthy cells. This can result in a cascade of oxidation that can be very damaging unless it is arrested.

Many studies have shown that an increase of free radicals in the body causes or accelerates nerve cell injury and leads to disease.

In fact, the currently most popular theory of aging and disease states that the gradual accumulation of free radicals, and the harm they cause, is responsible for many of the adverse changes that eventually cause aging and diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, heart and liver disease, atherosclerosis, immune system decline, brain dysfunction, diabetes, and cataracts.

Free radicals are not all bad however. They play a role in cell signalling and other beneficial processes when they exist in benign concentrations.

The trouble begins when their numbers climb, which may occur as a result of aging or when unnatural stressors like air pollution, pesticides, smoking, alcohol, stress, etc. are present.

Any compound or substance that can donate electrons and counteract free radicals is considered an antioxidant.

Therefore, antioxidants are intimately involved in the prevention of cellular damage caused by free radicals.

They are molecules that can safely interact with free radicals and neutralize them before they have the chance to damage vital cell parts.

Types of Antioxidants

There are two main types of antioxidants.

Those that are produced by the body itself are known as internal, or endogenous antioxidants.

The ones that come from outside sources like foods rich in antioxidant vitamins are know as external, or exogenous antioxidants.

Endogenous antioxidants are MUCH more powerful free radical fighters than exogenous ones.

Exogenous (External) Antioxidants

People in general are only aware of dietary antioxidants - the kind that can be found in foods like fruits and vegetables, drinks like green tea and coffee, and antioxidant supplements in the form of pills and capsules.

There are thousands of dietary antioxidants, but the most common ones are vitamins A, C, and E, lycopene, and beta-carotene.

Eating whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains — all rich in networks of antioxidants and their helper molecules — protects against many diseases and premature aging.

And as we get older, it becomes more and more important to eat plenty of foods rich in antioxidants.

This is because our body's natural defenses against free radicals diminish as we age, and so increasingly we need outside help in our battle against oxidation - the primary cause of disease and aging.

When you factor in environmental pollution, toxins, stress, and bad habits like smoking, proper diet becomes doubly important.

However, proper diet alone will eventually be insufficient and sooner or later we are all destined to succumb to the onslaught of free radicals.

Unless... (Hint hint: This is where Jiaogulan comes in! 🙂 )

While antioxidants can also be produced artificially and consumed in supplement form, studies on the effectiveness of supplements have been inconclusive.

It seems like they only provide limited benefits, if any, and in some cases can even be potentially harmful! 1, 2

Endogenous (Internal) Antioxidants

Few people are even aware of them, but endogenous antioxidants are your body's natural and primary defense against free radicals.

There are 5 types of antioxidants produced by the body: superoxide dismatuse (SOD), alpha lipoic acid (ALA), coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), catalase (CAT), and glutathione peroxidase (Gpx).

Of these, the three most important ones are SOD, Gpx, and CAT, in that order.

Endogenous antioxidants are literally hundreds and thousands of times more powerful free radical scavengers than ANY dietary antioxidant out there.

These antioxidants are the reason why when we are younger, we can be healthy even if we don't know what a fruit or vegetable tastes like.

Unfortunately, our ability to produce them gradually decreases with age.

For years, scientists have sought ways to increase our levels of SOD and Gpx, since these are the most powerful antioxidants in existence.

While Gpx levels can be temporarily raised through special diet and exercise, the same cannot be said about SOD.

Superoxide Dismutase (SOD)

The problem is that while some foods and plants contain SOD naturally, when it is ingested in the body it is quickly destroyed by stomach acids and intestinal enzymes, so virtually none enters the bloodstream.

Consuming Gynostemma pentaphyllum (Jiaogulan) may be one of the very few natural and effective ways of boosting SOD levels that has ever been found.

Superoxide dismutase is arguably the body’s most crucial antioxidant, since it is responsible for disarming the most dangerous and most common free radicals of all - the highly reactive superoxide radicals (oxygen with an extra electron).

Superoxide radicals are strongly associated with the development of a number of degenerative diseases, including atherosclerosis, stroke, heart attack, neurological disorders, chronic and acute inflammatory conditions, chronic pain associated with inflammation, neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's, lung pathologies, and various other age-related disorders.3, 4, 5, 6, 7

As an extreme example, mice that have been genetically engineered to be unable to produce SOD will die within days of being born from massive free radical damage.8

On the other hand, studies have shown a strong correlation between SOD levels in various animal species and their longevity.

Research conducted in the early 1980's by Richard Cutler at the Gerontology Research Center at the National Institute of Health showed that mammals who produced higher levels of SOD lived longer than those with lower SOD levels. 9, 10

Dr. Cutler's research showed that mice and rodents have the lowest SOD levels among mammals, and that SOD levels are highest among more highly evolved mammals, with humans displaying the highest relative SOD levels.

Humans produce an average of 90 mcg/ml (micrograms per milliliter) of SOD and live an average of around 80 years. Our closest primate relatives, chimpanzees, produce 40 mcg/ml of SOD and live an average of only 40 years.

In another example, pigeons live about 12 times longer than rats, even though they weigh the same. The difference is that pigeons have high SOD levels and produce about half as many free radicals as rats.

Finally, fruit flies that have been genetically engineered to produce twice the normal level of SOD live twice as long as ordinary fruit flies.

Cutler's cross-species investigations strongly suggest that SOD is a primary determinant of longevity in mammals, and that increased SOD production plays a key role in the higher order of mammals' evolution from shorter to longer life spans.

Superoxide Dismutase and Longevity

Glutathione Peroxidase (Gpx)

Glutathione is the other vitally important endogenous antioxidant, produced within each and every cell of your body.

It prevents cell damage by neutralizing free radicals and maintains dietary antioxidants such as vitamins C and E in their active forms so that they can keep fighting free radicals.

Gpx plays a critical and integral part in detoxifying the body by binding to pesticides, heavy metals and other toxins until they are excreted.

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.

Lastly, glutathione helps us reach peak mental and physical function by decreasing muscle damage, reducing recovery time, increasing strength and endurance, and shifting metabolism from fat production to muscle development.

Just like with SOD, scientists have found a strong correlation between a species or organism's ability to produce glutathione and its longevity. 11, 12

For example, studies have shown that high Gpx levels in the blood are typical in healthy and long-lived people, whereas low levels are almost always found in people with poor health. 11, 13
Glutathione and Longevity

Clinical and Animal Studies

A number of clinical studies have now clearly demonstrated that Jiaogulan causes an increase of SOD, glutathione and catalase levels, and this has a number of beneficial and protective effects on our bodies.

These effects seem to become more important and pronounced as we get older.

Human Clinical Trial 1

A Guiyang Medical College human clinical trial with 610 healthy middle and advanced age patients, aged 50 to 90 years old, showed that SOD levels returned to their youthful levels after only one month of daily intake of 20 mg of gypenosides (the main active ingredients in Jiaogulan)!

Those between 70 and 90 years of age saw an average decrease in the harmful superoxide and other radicals of 21.4% and an average increase in internally produced SOD of 282.8%, while in the 50 to 69 age group there was a 15.6% decrease in oxidant levels and a 116.1% increase in SOD concentrations!

A control group not receiving gypenosides from Jiaogulan did not experience any change.15

Human Clinical Trials 2 and 3

Two follow-up studies at Guiyang Medical College with 80 human patients aged 42-55 suffering from endemic fluorosis (condition of fluorine intoxication brought about by excessive ingestion of fluorides) found that 10mg of Jiaogulan and Danshen extracts twice a day for 5 months increased the level of SOD in their red blood cells by 34.1% from 847 ng/mgHb to 1136 ng/mgHg on average.

The SOD boosting effects was found to be solely caused by Jiaogulan's gypenosides and not Danshen.

Furthermore, patients had a 19% decrease in Malondialdehyde (MDA) levels, which is used as an indicator of oxidative stress (damage to cell structures due to excess of free radicals).

There were no changes in the placebo group or a group that was administered Borax instead.16, 17

Human Clinical Trial 4

In another 2-month double-blind experiment at the Shanghai Institute of Geriatrics, 51 elderly patients were administered 60mg of Jiaogulan gypenosides daily for 2 months, while a control group of 40 patients were given a placebo.

This study too found a significant increase in SOD levels and significant decrease in cell damage from oxidation.

In addition, the researchers saw an improvement in the patients' memory.

None of these effects were observed in the placebo group.18

Animal and In-Vitro Studies

In addition to these landmark human studies, there has been a large number of animal and in-vitro studies demonstrating Jiaogulan's ability to stimulate the production of SOD (superoxide dismutase)14 - 49, Gpx (glutathione peroxidase)24, 28, 30, 36, 37, 43, 44, 45, and CAT (catalase)37, 41, 43, 44.

This ability to boost the organism's own defenses against free radicals has been shown to have a profound protective effects on the body as a whole.

In particular, the increase in endogenous antioxidants by Jiaogulan was found to protect the cardiovascular14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, immune19, 25, nervous24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 42, and reproductive32 systems and various organs, such as the liver19, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, kidneys22, 24, stomach39, and skin40, 41.

The increase of endogenous antioxidants was also found to have anti-inflammatory22, 46, anti-cancer 46, 47 and anti-aging 25, 40, 41, 48, 49 effects, and to be beneficial for athletic performance and faster recovery from exercise44.

Jiaogulan is One of The Best Antioxidant Supplements

Jiaogulan's remarkable ability to stimulate the body's own production of both SOD and glutathione may be at the heart of the reason why it has been consistently associated with anti-aging and longevity.

Science may have discovered the mechanism to explain why so many Jiaogulan users in China are reported to have been centenarians in good health, and why they called it the “herb of immortality”.

Jiaogulan is not like any other source of antioxidants, because it does not act in the same way as fruits, vegetables, and vitamins.

Instead, its many saponins (the main active chemical compounds, also called gypenosides) have the ability to stimulate our bodies to produce the most powerful and vital antioxidants of all - the endogenous antioxidants superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, and catalase.

This is extremely important because these endogenous antioxidants are either impossible (in the case of SOD), or difficult (in the case of Gpx and CAT) to obtain from our food.

Furthermore, since our ability to produce these endogenous antioxidants decreases dramatically with age, our bodies become increasingly defenseless against the onslaught of free radicals.

This eventually leads to age-related diseases and death.

There are very few substances if any, ever discovered that can effectively stimulate the production of all three of the most important and powerful free radical fighters.

Not only that but Jiaogulan has been reported to restore SOD levels in elderly people to their youthful levels!

It is therefore not a stretch to say that Jiaogulan is one of the best antioxidant supplements with many potential health benefits!

Adding Jiaogulan to Your Diet


The most popular way to consume Jiaogulan is to drink it as tea, which is very easy to prepare.

For people who do not like tea or are constantly on the go, Jiaogulan capsules are an excellent alternative. 

No matter how you choose to use Jiaogulan, you should consult with your doctor before taking it if you have any medical conditions or take any medications. Jiaogulan may interact with some drugs and cause some side effects.


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