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What is Jiaogulan?

Jiaogulan growing on a hillside

Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum) is an easy to grow - weedy, even - adaptogen native to China, Korea, and Japan, historically used primarily in Southern China where it was a folk remedy for fatigue, to increase endurance, balance the immune system and enhance longevity. In the 1960’s and ’70’s, researchers (who were looking for plant based sweeteners) discovered that several of jiaogulan’s triterpenoid saponins were identical to those found in Asian Ginseng. Since then, studies have confirmed that jiaogulan does in fact enhance immune system function and has significant antioxidant activity. 

This easy to grow adaptogen helps the body cope with stress, is an herb for focus, clarity and energy, while calming the nervous system. Jiaogulan benefits people who feel agitated or nervous, while also offering an energy boost without caffeine.

Growing Jiaogulan 

Whereas many adaptogens are extremely slow growing or difficult to grow, jiaogulan is a fast growing perennial and because the leaves are used, instead of the root, it grows back readily, year after year. We don’t see Jiaogulan being used extensively in commercial products and rarely see it mentioned in publications or educational material. There’s even a classicism surrounding it - “poor man’s ginseng” is a common name. Perhaps it is precisely because it is so easy to grow? It is a member of the Cucurbit family after all (like cucumber, squash, and melon)!

Jiaogulan harvest for use in Brain Wave herbal formula for clarity, focus, and healthy memory function

We love to prioritize using plants that have these qualities because commercial use of slow-growing, native plants can place immense pressure on plant populations and many plants valued by the botanical industry are threatened by over-harvest (e.g. American Ginseng, ramps, and white sage). If this is exciting to you and want to try your hand at growing it, I suggest you plant it in a place where it can spread without taking over, surrounded by a lawn or in a container - it can veer on the edge of invasive!

Jiaogulan Benefits

Brain Wave herbal formula for focus, clarity and healthy memory function

Like all adaptogens, jiaogulan helps the body adapt to stress, supports normal metabolic function and restores systemic equilibrium. It has a particular affinity for the cardiovascular system and balancing the parts of the hormonal system that deal with blood sugar. It is a calming adaptogen, so it’s lovely for people who feel agitated or nervous, yet it is also used for clarity and energy - sometimes its effect is compared to that of green tea, without the caffeine buzz.

You can find jiaogulan in our herbal nootropic formula, Brain Wave! We blended it with six other herbs for brain fog, to support cerebral circulation, enhance focus, clarity, an alert sense of calm, and boost healthy memory function.

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