Gynostemma, also known as Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum), has been used as a tonic and adaptogen in folk medicine in countries such as China, Korea, Vietnam and Japan for centuries. Alternate common names such as Southern Ginseng and Immortal Herb provide clues to its reputation in folk medicine.
Before the launch of the first practitioner product of its kind in Australia, the MediHerb® Gynostemma 1:1 Liquid Extract, Integria collaborated with the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences at the University of Queensland to undertake extensive research into the chemistry of this herb. This work was conducted by Dr Iftekhar Ahmed, then a PhD student and now a Research Scientist with Integria Healthcare.
A thorough understanding of a herb’s chemical composition is fundamental for effective quality control. Gynostemma is particularly challenging in this regard, as it shows significant natural variability in chemical composition and contains some 200 different compounds, mostly flavonoids and saponins.
Part of Dr Ahmed’s work investigated the potential oral bioavailability of some of the major compounds, using the Caco-2 cell monolayer permeability model. This model utilises a single layer of cultured epithelial cells to mimic the human intestinal membrane and is an excellent predictor of whether a compound will be absorbed from the intestine into the blood stream. The results of these experiments yielded new insights into the structural requirements for the intestinal absorption of flavonoids and saponins from this very interesting herb.
Integria scientists also conducted simulated gastric digestion experiments to demonstrate that precursor saponins can be converted to biologically active compounds in the stomach upon ingestion.
The MediHerb® Gynostemma 1:1 Liquid Extract was launched in 2017 and provides qualified healthcare practitioners with an exciting new herbal medicine to prescribe to their patients.
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