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Jiaogulan Tea - Health Benefits and Uses

Updated on December 14, 2016
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Robert writes articles about emerging medical discoveries with a focus on the health benefits of natural remedies and ingredients.

Jiaogulan Tea
Jiaogulan Tea

Jiaogulan tea is a tea made a herb, which is popular in traditional Chinese medicine. According to some emerging science, jiaogulan may have many health benefits including helping to treat cancer and other chronic diseases.

What is Jiaogulan Tea?

This article provides information about Jiaogulan Tea and its health benefits.

Many people like to drink tea, but most of us play it safe: we drink the regular black or green teas that you can buy at your local supermarket. If you want to expand your tea horizons I recommend going to an ethnic Chinese food store and exploring their tea section. You will find a new world of teas made from all kinds of herbs and plants that you have never heard of. In many cases, these teas are reported to have health benefits according to traditional Chinese medicine, as well emerging scientific research.

Jiaogulan tea can be found in many Chinese food stores and sells for very little. A box of 40 bags will usually cost less than 5 dollars. You can buy it even cheaper in bulk or as loose tea.

Jiaogulan tea is made from the leaves of the Jiaogulan plant. This is the Westernized spelling of the common Chinese name for the plant and means "twisting vine orchid." As implied by its name, Jiaogulan is a climbing plant that attaches itself to trees and walls. In scientific literature, Jiaogulan is referred to as Gynostemma pentaphyllum

Jiagulan Grows In A Thick Lush Carpet of Beautiful Green Leaves
Jiagulan Grows In A Thick Lush Carpet of Beautiful Green Leaves

Health Benefits of Jiaogulan Tea

Jiaogulan has a long history of being used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a number of ailments including edema, trauma and cancers. Among the Chinese, the plant is nicknamed the "immortality herb" because people who drink jiaogulan tea regularly are said to live unusually long lives.

Although drinking jiaogulan tea will obviously not make you immortal, scientific reasearch confirms that there is something special about jiaogulan. Analysis of its chemical composition shows that jiaogulan is rich in substances called saponins, which are closely related to ginsenosides, the substances which give ginseng its amazing qualities. The effects of jiaogulan on the human body are said to be similar to that of ginseng.

In particular scientific studies have shown that jiaogulan has many health benefits including acting as a powerful antioxidant, immune system enhancer, and cancer fighter. Emerging research also suggests that jiaogulan may help regulate the metabolism and lower cholesterol and blood sugar.

Most of the research has been conducted by Chinese scientists and is not easily available to Westerners. However many Chinese studies on Jiaogulan have appeared in international peer reviewed scientific journals. Here are some interesting findings:

  • A study conducted at the University of Taiwan found that saponins from the Jiaogulan plant inhibited the growth of protstate cancer: J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Oct 26;59(20):11319-29. Epub 2011 Sep 26.
  • A study from Thailand found that jiaogulan was active against fungal and bacterial infections:Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health. 2011 May;42(3):704-10.
  • A recently published Chinese study reported that jiaogulan suppressed murine leukemia cells: Zhong Yao Cai. 2010 Oct;33(10):1588-92.
  • Another study from Taiwan showed that Jiaogulan inhibits liver cancer: J Med Food.2010 Dec;13(6):1431-42. Epub 2010 Oct 14.

In all, as of October 2011, there were over 160 scientific studies appearing in various respected peer reviewed journals.

So what are the health benefits of jiaogulan tea? According traditional folk knowledge and preliminary scientific research, drinking jiaogulan tea may:

  • help you live longer (that is if jiaogulan lives up to its nickname as the "immortality herb")
  • fight certain types of infections
  • fight certain types of cancer

There have not been any studies on humans and most of the claims about jiaogulan tea's medicinal properties comes from anecdotal evidence or very preliminary studies using animals as guinea pigs. This article is for information only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any condition or disease. Always consult your health care professional.

Jiaogulan - The Immortality Herb

How to Make Jiaogulan Tea

Making jiagogulan tea is easy, and no different than making ordinary tea. Simply place a tea bag in a cup and pour hot water over it. Then drink and enjoy after steeping for about 5 minutes.

More Teas to Try:

If you want to explore the wonderful world of teas, here are some more you may want to try:

  • Buckwheat Tea - a great tasting tea that is reported to have many health giving properties including helping you lose weight.
  • Chaga Tea - a cure all used in traditional Russian medicine. It is made from the chaga mushroom found growing on birch trees of the northern forests of Russia, Canada, and the United States.

What Does it Taste Like?

Whenever a herb or tea is promoted as medicinal, it probably won't win any awards for taste. This is somewhat true of jiaogulan tea: it tastes okay, but no one would drink it if it did not have a reputation as a health tonic or traditional medicine. It has a slightly bitter flavor, which may be stronger depending on how much tea you use or how long you let the tea leaves steep. But it does not taste or smell bad, but of course that is a subjective assessment. You will need to try it for yourself to determine if it is worth drinking.


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    • quotations profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert P 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for the feedback LouLaBall - none of the studies that I read indicated that there were any side effects. The good thing about jiaogulan tea is that it is in wide use as a beverage so I think that if there were any significant side effects they would have come to light a long time ago.

      If personal experience counts, I have drunk this tea quite a few times and I have not noticed any unpleasant side effects.

      I will definitely do more hubs about Chinese medicine, as I try out different teas and herbs.

    • LouLa Ball profile image

      LouLa Ball 

      8 years ago from Tennessee

      Great hub! I have heard of the healing powers of chinese remedies but have never tried any. Thanks for this very informative hub. Good job and keep up the work. I would like to see more hubs about other chinese remedies. I only have one question though. What if any are the side affects that may occur?


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