Jiaogulan – A herb with surprisingly diverse ingredients
Jiaogulan is an inconspicuous plant from Asia. But as inconspicuous as it is, it has as much power. The composition of its ingredients is similar to ginseng,but it dwarfs it. In the countries of origin, the use of Jiaogulan has a long tradition and there it is even referred to as the ” plant
“. Several studies have already shown how much power there is in the herb.
Origin and botanical characteristics
The home of Jiaogulan is Asia. The main distribution areas include China, Japan, Thailand, Korea and the plant is even found in India. It is mainly found in humid and warm regions and colonizes areas up to an altitude of 3,000 meters. The plant belongs to the family of pumpkin plants and has, among other things, a growing growth. This has the advantage that they can climb up even in dense vegetation so that they have enough light. Although Jiaogulan has the urge to grow upwards, it avoids the blazing sun and prefers shady locations. The plants are relatively tolerant to temperatures. They even tolerate low temperatures of up to -15°C and extremely high temperatures above 40°C. However, the optimal range for good growth is around 20°C and with a high humidity. The plants have a high nutrient requirement and are insensitive to waterlogging. Ideal are loamy soils with a high proportion of sand and humus. Only under optimal conditions is the content of the valuable ingredients highest.
Valuable ingredients in Jiaogulan
Jiaogulan is one of the plants with a very high content of saponins. More than 100 different saponins have been detected in the plant so far, of which about 2.4 percent are still present even in the dried state per 100 grams of plant material. About a quarter of the saponins are so-called ginsenosides,the detection of which was a small sensation in the plant. Ginsenosides have so far only been detected in ginseng and Jiaogulan was the first plant to have comparable ingredients. The advantage of Jiaogulan, however, is that it has not only ginsenosides, but a number of other valuable ingredients. These include primarily different vitamins, minerals and proteins. In addition, the plant contains a number of different polysaccaarids as well as flavonoids.
Saponins have different properties and promote, among other things, the absorption of other ingredients, as they make cell membranes more permeable. Saponins also have anti-inflammatory properties and can bind cholesterol.
In flavonoids, Jiaogulan contains mainly rutin and quercetin. In terms of flavonoids, the plant again has a surprise to offer, as it also contains the rare two species Yixingensin and Ombusid. Flavonoids have the property of binding free radicals and thus have an antioxidant effect.
Also worth mentioning are the polysaccharides in Jiaogulan. These are multiple sugars, which are broken down during digestion and provide the body with energy. The advantage of plant sugars is that they have the property of regulating blood sugar levels, which is beneficial for some diseases.
Popular medicinal plant in China
The history of Jiaogulan dates back to 1406,where it was first mentioned in the ming dynasty. In a herb book of the time, the plant and its effect were described. In particular, its nutritional value was emphasized in it and recommended as a herb in the event of famine. The Chinese name for Jiaogulan is “Xiancao“, which translates as “immortality“. This is why it is often called the “plant of immortality” in this country. Above all, their nutritional value was recognized in the past, but it took some time for the healing effect to be appreciated. In records from 1578, Jiaogulan was recommended for cuts or should be used for throat pain. In Europe it was made famous in 1784 by a Swedish naturalist. Since 1976, research has also been interested in the plant of immortality. In the search for alternative sweeteners, the researchers came across Jiaogulan rather by chance, but quickly realized that the composition of the ingredients was something very special. Although many ingredients of Jiaogulan are already known, there are still unknown ingredients, especially in the saponins.
Jiaogulan in traditional Chinese medicine
Jiaogulan is very important in traditional Chinese medicine, although it was discovered very late. It is now one of the ten most important plants in traditional Chinese medicine. In traditional use, the herb is mainly used for strengthening and detoxifying. It is also recommended less frequently for sepsis or even hepatitis. In addition, it is also used in fever to dissipate the heat or to strengthen the mind. Jiaogulan is also used for high cholesterol, high blood sugar levels and liver function problems.
Jiaogulan for Health
Jiaogulan is now also used in Western folk medicine. The applications are partly based on studies or traditional knowledge of the Eastern tradition. In the West, Jiaogulan is mainly used to strengthen various signs of weakness. The fields of application range from metabolic weakness to memory weakness. In case of too high blood pressure as well as problems with the heart, folk medicine also recommends Jiaogulan. In addition, as in traditional Chinese medicine, it is also used for too high cholesterol or diabetes. Because the ingredients are comparable to ginseng, Jiaogulan is also used equally. This includes, for example, strengthening memory in case of forgetfulness or should also be positive for signs of fatigue. Some applications are now even scientifically proven by studies.
Jiaogulan against free radicals
In the meantime, the effect against free radicals has been confirmed, which also earned Jiaogulan the name Plant of Immortality. Free radicals damage the cell walls and promote the aging process. While Jiaogulan cannot prevent it, it can slow down. The ingredients in Jiaogulan promote the production of superoxide dismutase,which not only binds free radicals and thus has an antioxidant effect, but has also attracted attention in cancer research. Superoxide dismutase is an enzyme whose effect has been studied on cancer cells since 2010 and has already yielded promising results. The aim is not only to develop targeted cancer therapy, but also to develop preventive preparations.
Promising for diabetes
Meanwhile, Jiaogulan has become interesting in research into diabetes. In 2004, the first studies focused on the substance phanosidecontained in Jiaogulan. In initial animal studies, this substance proved to be extremely promising in diabetes. For several years, studies have been carried out in which Jiaogulan as a herb in diabetes is the focus. In 2010, studies were conducted for the first time in patients with type 2 diabetes. In this study, however, the subjects did not receive extracted substances from the plant, but wanted to test how the full range of ingredients of Jiaogulan works. Therefore, the test candidate Jiaogulan was administered in the form of tea. In this case, too, the results of the study were promising, as regular administration of tea over three months showed effect.
Jiaogulan or ginseng?
The ingredients of ginseng can also be found in Jiaogulan. In particular, the skin active ingredient of ginseng has also been detected in Jiaogulan. The question now is what is better of both. Clearly, it cannot be answered, but Jiaogulanoffers some practical advantages. In the amount of different ingredients, the plant ginseng is significantly superior. Compared to the tree, it does not take seven years to harvest for the first time. In the countries where Jiaogulan is native, it literally reproduces like weeds. A propagation takes place among other things with seeds, via rhizomes or cuttings. Within a few weeks, Jiaogulan has become a stately plant that can be harvested. Especially the fact that large quantities of jiaogulan can be produced quickly within a short time gives the herb an advantage.
Jiaogulan in the kitchen
Jiaogulan can also be used as a fresh herb in the kitchen. The leaves can be used as a substitute for spinach. Shortly blanched, they can refine different dishes and be used as part of mixed vegetables. The advantage of Jiaogulan is that the herb can be used for both spicy and sweet dishes. Due to its slightly sweet taste, it is versatile, but is particularly suitable for Asian dishes. The sweetness of Jiaogulan is described as comparable to liquorice, which allows the herb to be used in the kitchen, but should always be used sparingly, so that the taste does not cover everything in one dish. If jiaogulan or the taste is desired and the dominant ingredient, then can be generously dosed.
Jiaogulan as Novel Food
Jiaogulan has not yet been approved as a medicine or as a foodstuff in Europe. The reason for this is an EU regulation that classifies plants sold in smaller quantities before 1997 as so-called novel food. These are novel foods that must first be classified as such. Only when supposed foods have gone through this authorisation process can they be sold as such. The same is true of medicinal products where products also have to go through an authorisation procedure. In both cases, this is not yet the case for Jiaogulan, which is why the plant or products from the plant may not be sold as medicines or as food. For this reason, Jiaogulan is often commercially offered as a fragrance plant,as such plants do not have to go through an approval process. However, the variety of ingredients that have a positive effect on the body is one reason why Jiaogulan is likely to be approved as a food in the next few years. This facilitates the trade in products from Jiaogulan as well as the sale of fresh plant parts, for example as salad.
However, it is often falsely claimed that Jiaogulan is illegal or even banned. Both assumptions are false, because Jiaogulan may be traded and sold. However, no product may be offered as a medicine or food. For this reason, dietary supplements containing Jiaogulan have also disappeared from the market.
Jiaogulan in different dosage form
If you want to benefit from the positive effects of Jiaogulan, you have the possibility to integrate the plant of immortality into your diet in a variety of forms. As a fresh plant, it can be used for different dishes. A special treat is Jiaogulan as part of smoothies,because the sweet taste replaces other sweeteners. Jiaogulan can be easily integrated into the diet several times a day. The advantage of Jiaogulan is that it can be combined with a wide variety of flavours. This makes it suitable both as an ingredient and only as a condiment.
The preparation of Jiaogulan as tea
Jiaogulan comes from Asia and especially in China the tea has a great importance. There, the preparation of Jiaogulan as tea is also celebrated. The harvest ingess of leaves is important. Younger leaves of Jiaogulan are much more aromatic than older ones and should therefore be preferred. Although the fresh leaves could also be used, in Asia dried leaves are generally preferred. This is because Jiaogulan should not be poured with boiling hot water for a tea, so that the cell structure is not damaged. However, drying already causes cells to break up, which gives more ingredients and taste to the tea. After pouring with hot water, the tea must draw at least five to ten minutes. When dosing the amount of herbs for the tea, everyone can act according to their preferences. On average, a heaped teaspoon is used on a litre of water. However, if you want a more intense aroma, you can increase the amount. However, you should be careful about a higher dosage. Some ingredients in Jiaogulan are very tart and this taste is better, especially with dried herb. Too much herb per litre of water can therefore no longer make the tea very aromatic and above all cause an unpleasant drinking sensation. The tea can be drunk warm, but it also tastes great when it is cold. In summer, a tea with Jiaogulan can even be drunk with ice cubes as a refreshing iced tea. The advantage of Jiaogulan as a tea is that hardly any additional sweeteners need to be used, as it itself has a lot of sweetness.
Are there any side effects of Jiaogulan?
A particularly big advantage of Jiaogulan is that it is a plant with no previously known side effects. With a normal dosage of Jiaogulan, there are no problems, only at a very high amount, if about dozens of cups are drunk per day, there can be occasional overreaction. Jiaogulan stimulates, among other things, intestinal activity and overdoses can lead to nausea and reactions of the gastrointestinal tract. So far, however, there are not enough studies to completely rule out side effects. Only with normal dosage has there been no side effects.
Jiaogulan as a house plant
Jiaogulan may only be sold to a limited extent in Europe and if only as a fragrance plant. The advantage is that the plant can be cultivated relatively well as a house plant. Although it also tolerates low temperatures,it is usually not suitable for the outdoors,because once the temperature is lowered, the plant usually dies. If you want to cultivate Jiaogulan yourself, however, you have to create optimal conditionsso that it forms a high proportion of ingredients. Especially at this point, most fail, because the high humidity that the plant would need alone is not reachable in normal apartments. Therefore, Jiaogulan can be cultivated in this country, but usually remains only a decorative plant. Especially due to the considerable length that Jiaogulan can achieve, it is a popular plant for hanging lights. However, if Jiaogulan has the opportunity to climb, he prefers to grow upwards. If you want to cultivate it here, you should also make sure that it is not in the blazing sun, as this will stress the plant and will reduce its growth.