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Chinese: 绞股蓝

Pinyin: Jiǎo Gǔ Lán

Parts used: The leaves, dried

TCM category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Heart Lung

Scientific name: Gynostemma pentaphyllum

Use of jiaogulan (Jiao Gu Lan) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Cut away the leaves and dry them, like you would tea leaves

Dosage: 5-12g

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears Heat and detoxifies. Relieves cough, moistens the Lungs and eliminates Phlegm. Nourishes the Heart and soothes the nerves. Tonifies Qi and promotes Essence.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which jiaogulan may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Peptic ulcers Asthma Pneumonia Intercostal neuralgia Hypertension Cirrhosis Gastroenteritis Bronchitis Pharyngitis Diabetes

Contraindications*: Mild sedative effect, use caution when driving

Key TCM concepts behind jiaogulan (Jiao Gu Lan)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), jiaogulan are plants that belong to the 'Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency' category. Tonic herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency, when one lacks one of the 'Four Treasures' (Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang). Qi tonics are typically sweet and they tend to enter the Spleen and Lungs because these Organs are most involved with the production of Qi.

Furthermore jiaogulan are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that jiaogulan typically help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition jiaogulan can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Jiaogulan also taste Bitter. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like jiaogulan tend to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such jiaogulan are thought to target the Heart and the Lung. In addition to regulating Blood flow, in TCM the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body.

Research on jiaogulan (Jiao Gu Lan)

Gynostemma pentaphyllum has an antidiabetic effect on type 2 diabetic patients.1


1. Huyen VT, Phan DV, Thang P, Hoa NK, Ostenson CG. Antidiabetic effect of Gynostemma pentaphyllum tea in randomly assigned type 2 diabetic patients. Horm Metab Res. 2010;42(5):353-357. doi:10.1055/s-0030-1248298