Jiaogulan (Gynostemma Pentaphyllum) and Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
Jun 15, 2023 | Read Time: 15 min.
Following a census in China in the 1970s, which revealed villagers in Guizhou Province in South China living to extraordinary ages, there has been a wave of scientific research over the last 50 years on Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum) and its unique health-promoting phytochemicals.
In clinical and animal studies to date, Jiaogulan has shown remarkable effectiveness in helping prevent and treat cardiovascular disease (CVD), due to its ability to counteract several root causes of CVD, while also treating risk factors like obesity and stress.
Atherosclerosis - the thickening or hardening of the arteries - is the deadly process responsible for the majority of problems classified under the umbrella of heart disease.
Jiaogulan has been shown in studies to protect the endothelium (blood vessel or artery lining) from damage - the key precursor to Atherosclerosis - from bad cholesterol, free radicals, and high blood pressure.
Jiaogulan has also been shown to counteract the atherosclerosis process itself and therefore help prevent CVD from developing. 2, 3
Jiaogulan is also known to regulate blood pressure, reduce inflammation and improve cardiac function.4
Jiaogulan has also demonstrated the ability to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride levels while raising good cholesterol (HDL) levels.
There is a surprising amount of scientific research on the role Jiaogulan can play in helping prevent and treat CVD, while also addressing risk factors like obesity and high blood pressure.
The majority of studies seem to support Jiaogulan’s efficacy as a powerful preventative agent for a range of diseases, not only CVD.
But before we look at the evidence, first you need to understand CVD - the class of diseases involving the heart or blood vessels, and why you should be concerned about it.
Jiaogulan Can Help Prevent Cardiovascular Disease
We already know that dietary and lifestyle changes are key to reducing CVD risk.
But what if you could supplement those changes with a herbal treatment that has shown enormous promise in targeting the root causes of CVD, as well as addressing risk factors like obesity?
I know what you are thinking. Not another herb purporting to cure every disease. But, you would be wise to take a closer look at the properties of Jiaogulan and the compelling clinical data that points to the herb’s potential efficacy in both preventing and treating cardiovascular disease.
There has been a lot of research into Jiaogulan’s effects on the causes and risk conditions for CVD and while the results are encouraging, more research is always needed.
The consensus from research to date is that Jiaogulan has qualities that affect the very genesis of CVDs - atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) - while treating risk conditions as well.
Okay, so let’s take a look at some of the studies that demonstrate Jiaogulan’s mechanisms of action on CVD, so you can make your own decision on the veracity of each case.
Jiaogulan Prevents Arterial Damage (Studies)
Damage to the arterial lining (endothelium) is a key factor that leads to the development of atherosclerosis, the deadly process of hardening and narrowing of arteries that so often leads to CVD.
In studies, Jiaogulan has been shown to prevent damage to the arterial or blood vessel lining - the precursor to atherosclerosis, in two ways.
First, it has been shown to neutralize the oxidative damage to the arteries caused by free radicals and cholesterol through its powerful antioxidant effects 8,9,10.
The second way Gynostemma prevents endothelial damage is through its ability to regulate blood pressure, either lowering it or elevating it depending on the need. 11, 12
CVD and Nitric Oxide
Deficiencies in endogenous (internally produced) Nitric Oxide (NO) synthesis are extremely common in people with high CVD risk, according to recent research. 13
The decreased production of NO can causes serious problems in the lining of the blood vessels and arteries, known as endothelial dysfunction.
Accumulating evidence suggests that endothelial dysfunction is an early, reversible precursor to atherosclerosis.60
Risk factors for atherosclerosis such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, smoking, diabetes mellitus and heart failure, have been associated with the weakened release of nitric oxide into the arterial wall, either because of impaired synthesis or excessive oxidative degradation.
It is for this reason that numerous therapies have been investigated to assess the possibility of reversing endothelial dysfunction by enhancing the release of nitric oxide from the endothelium.14, 60
Jiaogulan stimulates production of Nitric Oxide
The primary function of endothelial Nitric Oxide is to widen the blood vessels (vasodilation), which increases blood flow circulation throughout your body, providing more of the oxygen and nutrients necessary for proper function of all tissues and organs.
This vasodilatory action of nitric oxide is essential for the regulation of blood flow and blood pressure to the blood vessels and arteries.
Jiaogulan’s demonstrated ability to lower blood pressure is at least in part due to its protection and stimulation of endothelial Nitric Oxide production.15, 16, 17, and 18
Widening of the arteries has the effect of lowering blood pressure, since blood has more room to flow through and therefore less pressure is put on the arterial walls.
Without Nitric Oxide arteries constrict and require a higher blood pressure to maintain adequate blood flow to the tissue.
In addition, lack of Nitric Oxide increases the number of smooth muscle cells, which can also lead to higher blood pressure.
One double blind clinical study of patients with high blood pressure showed that Jiaogulan is almost as effective as Indapamide (a high blood pressure drug), and almost twice as effective as Panax Ginseng (82%, 93%, and 46% respectively) in reducing high blood pressure.19
Jiaogulan Prevents Plaque Buildup by Lowering Bad Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels
Since ‘bad cholesterol’ (LDL) and blood fats are the main ingredients of arterial plaque, a reduction of their concentration in the blood will help prevent or slow down the progression of atherosclerosis.
Clinical studies on the effectiveness of Jiaogulan on patients with high cholesterol reported showing an effectiveness rate of between 67-93% success.61
These studies showed that Jiaogulan lowered blood cholesterol, triglyceride and LDL, while increasing HDL.
In fact, Jiaogulan has demonstrated its ability to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride levels, while raising good cholesterol (HDL) levels in numerous studies.20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39
It achieves this by improving the body’s ability to metabolize fat and by stimulating Nitric Oxide production, which suppresses the damage done to LDL cholesterol by free radicals.
Lowering of the cholesterol levels also has a positive side effect of prevention of the formation of cholesterol gallstones.
Jiaogulan Prevents Platelet Stickiness and Blood Clots
Plaques grow over the years and slowly block blood flow in the arteries. Worse, cholesterol plaque can suddenly rupture, especially when the person suffers from high blood pressure.
When a plaque inside a coronary artery ruptures, platelets (blood cells whose function is to stop the bleeding) become sticky, develop tentacles and start to roam around in groups (platelet aggregation), quickly making their way to the damaged area and pile on it until they either partially or completely block the artery.
The sudden blood clot that forms over the ruptured area causes the blood flow to cease, which results in a heart attack or stroke.
Blood clots can also detach and travel into the bloodstream where they can get lodged in other blood vessels, for example in the lungs, causing a potentially deadly embolism.
In studies, Jiaogulan has been demonstrated to help inhibit the formation of blood clots by preventing the platelet aggregation process described above.
It does this by increasing nitric oxide production – which reduces the stickiness of platelets – and by inhibiting Tissue Factor (TF) – the main protein needed for the blood clotting process to initiate.40
In studies, Jiaogulan has prevented platelets from sticking together or sticking to the lining of arteries and also helped them to de-aggregate (detach from each other) in both human clinical trials41 and animal studies. 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49
Other Benefits of Jiaogulan to the Cardiovascular System
Jiaogulan reduces the affected area and the severity of injury to the brain and heart suffered as a consequence of a stroke or a heart attack, and accelerates the healing and recovery process.50, 51, 52, 53
The herb has also shown to help prevent heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy) and protect heart muscles and their function from damage as a result of diabetes.54, 55
Jiaogulan also helps protect against coronary spasms, irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), pressor response (the increase in arterial blood pressure in response to various internal or external conditions, e.g. drugs, mental stress, etc.), and ventricular tachycardia (a life-threatening rapid heart beat that starts in the bottom pumping chambers of the heart).56
Jiaogulan could be beneficial for people who suffer from congestive heart failure because has shown to improve the efficiency of the pumping action of the heart.
This means the heart does not work as hard to produce the same amount of blood flow, helping it deliver more oxygen and nutrients to the body as a whole without causing additional stress. 57, 58
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