Jiaogulan, Gynostemma pentaphyllum (also Vitis pentaphyllum), is a fantastic adaptogen that has many of the same medicinal properties as ginseng. Some researchers consider it superior to ginseng.


Cucurbitaceae (squash family)


Southern Ginseng, xiancao, herb of immortality, twisting-vine-orchid, five-leaf ginseng, poor man’s ginseng, miracle grass, fairy herb, sweet tea vine, gospel herb


Leaves are used medicinally but the whole plant is edible.


Jiaogulan is native to Central China and found in Bangladesh, India, Japan, Korea, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.


Height: Up to 8 meters ( about 25 ft) when established and in the right climate. ABout 1 meter (4 ft) tall in a container.
Width: 30 cm (1 ft)
Flowers: Inconspicuous and pale yellow
Leaves: Oval shaped with fine, white hairs growing in the toothed edges.
Blooms: Mid to late summer
Fruits: Round green, turning black when they are ripe.


Jiaogulan is an herbaceous perennial that grows as a climbing or spreading vine. It can become invasive when grown in ideal conditions. Jiaogulan is dioecious, meaning you need a male and a female plant for seed production. It dies back to the ground after a freeze and grows back in spring. It is attractive and grows well in containers.

Hardiness: Zones 8-10 (hardy to -12 Celsius – 10 Fahrenheit)
Germination: pre soak seeds for about one day in warm water before planting. Then plant three seeds per pot in damp, rich soil. Add a little bit of soil so that the seeds are barely covered. Keep the soil moist at room temperature. Germination should occur in two to six weeks.
Space: 30 cm (1 ft)
Soil: rich, well-drained, moist
Exposure: warm, sheltered in partial shade. Can be grown indoors on a bright window sill facing east or west.
Propagation: seeds and cuttings. To cultivate by cutting, cover the vine with earth until it roots (about 3 weeks), then plant in rich soil.
Garden Design: In the garden, Jiaogulan grows like weed. It can be grown up a partially shaded trellis or arbor where it can attach itself with its tendrils. It is very attractive as a container plant.


Cultivated plants have the highest amount of gypenosites in June. However, plants growing in the wild have the highest concentration of gypenosites in August.


Hang the plant to dry in a well ventilated room away from direct sun light. Store the dried leaves and stems in a air tight container.


82 different saponins (gypenosites), trace minerals, amino acids, vitamins, proteins


Adaptogen, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitussive, calamtive, cardiotonic, depurative, detoxicant, expectorant, immunostimulant, nervine, regulator, restorative, neurotonic


Bitter, warm (enhancing Yin while supporting Yang)


This varies according with the plant. Some are sweet, others semi-sweet and many are bitter.


The saponins in Jiaogulan are the responsible substances for its superior regulatory effect on the body. Jiaogulan may regulate the immune system, the nervous system, the endocrine system, blood pressure and metal functions. By balancing and normalizing the central nervous system (brain, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems), it produces a calming effect on the mind and an increase in focus.

Jiaogulan may also enhance a person’s adaptability to physical and mental stress as well as immunity and resistance to disease.

The cardiovascular system is also positively affected by Jiaogulan as it increases cardiac output, regulates blood pressure and lowers heart rate. It also improves oxygen utilization and raises coronary flow. It inhibits the formation of blood clots in the blood vessels (thrombosis) and the accumulation of plaque in the arteries (atherosclerosis).

It is a tonic for the endocrine and immune systems. It stimulates the production of white blood cells, particularly in patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy (improving their ability to recover).

Jiaogulan regulates of cholesterol (lowers triglycerides and LDL, while increasing HDL), thus preventing and treating atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke. It also regulates lipid metabolism.

Recommemded daily dosage:

Preventive: 20 mg gypenosides 3 times per day
Therapeutic: 60 mg gypenosides 3 times per day

  • infusion
  • tincture
  • wine

Jiaogulan can be cooked as spinach, added to pestos, stews and salads.







Blumert, M. Liu, Jialiu. 1999. Jiaogulan. Badger: Torchlight Publishing, Inc.

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