Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Jiao Gu Lan to Save the Day!

Have I ever told you how much I like 绞股蓝 Jiao Gu Lan tea? The taste takes a little getting used to - after the first time I didn't try it again for about six months - but if you give it a chance I think you'll find it to be a marvelous addition to your daily or weekly routine.

Chen and Chen categorize Jiao Gu Lan (gynostemma pentaphyllum, also known as "panta") as a qi tonic (Bensky doesn't mention it). The properties are slightly bitter and cold, making it one of the few qi tonics that aren't warm in nature. The official functions are a pretty amazing list of contradictions both internally and between each other. Observe:

1. Moistens Lung, Promotes Generation of Body Fluids, Dispels Phlegm A qi tonic that dispels phlegm! Think of it! This makes it perfect for weekend warrior athletes who work out hard and expend a lot of energy but also tend to overeat sweet and oily foods.

2. Clears Heat, Eliminates Toxins, Reduces Inflammation Jiao Gu Lan tonifies qi AND clears heat and eliminates toxins!!! 清热解毒 Qing Re Jie Du are functions you would expect to see among your Pu Gong Ying (dandelion root), your Ban Lan Gen (isatis root), your Lian Qiao (forsythia fruit), not among qi tonics.

3. Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Many studies have demonstrated the powerful effect Jiao Gu Lan has on hyperlipidemia and hypertension. The FDA prohibits making specific medicinal claims about products not regulated by the FDA, but Chen gets away with it because they're writing in a Chinese medicine textbook, not for marketing purposes.

Here are a few jaw-dropping quotes from the text:

Jiao Gu Lan has a general effect to nourish and strengthen the body. It is commonly used to treat chronic disorders, such as asthma, migraines, neuralgia, impaired function of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, and syndromes characterized by deficiency...

Clinically, it treats gastric ulcers, duodenal ulcers, hyperlipidemia, nodules, cystitis, herpes zoster and other conditions characterized by dampness, heat and toxins. Jiao Gu Lan has also been used to treat various kinds of cancer and to help inhibit the spread of tumors.

I hope you can see now why I love this stuff so much. It's a very general tonic for the whole system, at the same time cooling and anti-phlegm, AND anti-cancer! And at the same time gentle enough to drink up to one tea bag every day. Fat Turtle Herb Company carries Jiao Gu Lan in loose form for use in formulas by students and licensed practitioners. The recommended dosage is 5-12 grams in decoction. If you're interested in ready-made tea bags, we can get those for you as well.

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