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When should I be careful taking gynostemma pentaphylumm?
In studies of animals, gynostemma may have caused birth defects
in some of the babies born to mothers given gynostemma during pregnancy.
Although no reports of similar effects have been reported in humans,
women who are pregnant are advised to avoid gynostemma.
Very little information is available on how gynostemma might affect
an infant or a small child. Therefore, its use is not recommended
while breast-feeding or during early childhood.
What side effects should I watch for?
Nausea – sometimes described as serious -- has been associated
with taking gynostemma. Also reported is a possible increase in
the number of bowel movements.
No other side effects have been reported consistently from using
gynostemma. Since few reliable studies of its use have been conducted
in humans, however, it may have side effects that are not yet known.
If you experience unexplained side effects while taking gynostemma,
you should stop taking it and tell your doctor or pharmacist about
the side effects.
What interactions should I watch for?
In studies, gynostemma has been shown to increase the time blood
needs to clot. When it is taken with antiplatelet or anticoagulant
drugs, the effect of the drug may be increased, resulting in uncontrolled
- Antiplatelets include Plavix and Ticlid
- Anticoagulants include heparin and warfarin
Because it can enhance immune system function, gynostemma may interfere
with the effects of drugs used to suppress the immune system after
organ transplants or in other conditions. Taking gynostemma is not
recommended for patients who take drugs such as:
- Azathioprine (Imuran)
- cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune)
Gynostemma can affect the ability of blood to clot after an injury.
Aspirin can also delay clotting, so gynostemma should not be taken
at the same time as aspirin.
Theoretically, if gynostemma is used with other herbs that affect
blood clotting, bleeding may occur. Some of the most common herbal
products that might inhibit blood clotting are:
• Devil’s Claw
• Ginger (in high amounts)
• Horse Chestnut
• Panax Ginseng
Some interactions between herbal products and medications can
be more severe than others. The best way for you to avoid harmful
interactions is to tell your doctor and/or pharmacist what medications
you are currently taking, including any over-the-counter products,
vitamins, and herbals. For specific information on how gynostemma
interacts with drugs, other herbals, and foods and the severity
of those interactions, please use our Drug Interactions Checker
to check for possible interactions.
Should I take jiaogulan?
Originally found growing wild in south western parts of China,
gynostemma is a vine with leaves that most often are divided into
five leaflets – usually with a larger leaflet at the end of
the leaf stem surrounded by leaflets of decreasing size on either
side. Gynostemma belongs to the same family of plants as cucumbers
and melons, but it does not bear an edible fruit or vegetable. Instead,
it has small dark berries that follow light yellow flowers. While
the seeds will sprout, gynostemma ordinarily spreads by sending
out runners, which are woody extensions of roots that run under
the ground and produce shoots for new plants. It is now grown commercially
throughout Southeast Asia. Commercial cultivation is usually done
in greenhouses or under open tents because gynostemma wilts in direct
sunlight. Harvested in the late summer, the leaves of gynostemma
are dried and used. Due to the saponins in gynostemma, it may also
be used in soaps and detergents.
Although it has long been used in beverages in southern China,
gynostemma was not known to the general scientific community until
relatively recently. A naturally sweet plant, gynostemma was first
studied in the 1970s as a possible sugar substitute. However, during
early research it was discovered to contain chemicals that are similar
to those in panax ginseng. Currently, researchers are investigating
the role of gynostemma in preventing and treating a wide variety
Dosage and Administration
In the few studies conducted in humans, a common daily amount
used to lower cholesterol levels was 30 mg of gynostemma extract,
taken in three 10 mg doses. For treating other conditions, recommended
doses vary from about 20 mg to over 150 mg per day. While even large
doses (several cups of gynostemma tea per day) appear to be safe,
no scientific documentation is available to confirm a maximum dosage.
Note: The active ingredients in gynostemma are known as saponins.
This large group of chemicals is characterized by their general
ability to make soap-like suds when they are mixed with water and
the mixture is shaken. Saponins may have many effects in the body,
including positive ones such as improving immune function. Saponins
may also have negative effects such as blocking the digestion of
some nutrients. Gynostemma may contain over 80 different types of
saponins. Because the content of saponins and other chemicals in
gynostemma varies greatly depending on the species of the plant
and the conditions under which it grows, standardizing gynostemma
products is difficult. Standardization by the manufacturer should
assure the same amount of active ingredient in every batch of the
commercial preparation. Standardization of herbal products is not
required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so not
every gynostemma product that is available contains the same amounts
of active ingredients.
Gynostemma has been studied most for its effects on the heart and
blood vessels. It may help to lower blood cholesterol levels, blood
pressure, and heart rate. Gynostemma may also have antioxidant properties
that may make it useful for increasing the function of the immune
Because it has caused birth defects in animals, gynostemma should
be avoided by pregnant women. Small children and breast-feeding
women are also advised to avoid taking it, since so little is known
about its possible long-term effects.
The only side effect currently attributed to gynostemma is nausea.
The antiplatelet properties of gynostemma may increase the risk
of uncontrolled bleeding if it is taken at the same time as drugs
or herbals that also thin the blood. Taking it may also counteract
the effects of drugs used to prevent organ transplant rejection.