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What is Gynura Procumbens and why it’s not Ashitaba

Gynura Procumbens

What is Gynura Procumbens?

Gynura Procumbens is a wonderful plant with high medicinal value. It inhabits the Southeast regions of Asia- China, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. Longevity spinach’’ or “leaves of life” are some of its popular names. Chinese call it ‘pointed phoenix tail’. This article will tell you the reason of meaningful names this plant has gotten over centuries.

For many years, this plant has been used in folk medicine for some major health benefits. Its roots, leaves and shoots are consumed in different forms to unlock a treasure of nutrients. Africans use it in their daily diet as well!

How is it different from and confused with the Ashitaba plant?

Ashitaba is a Japanese plant that has been long misunderstood as Gynura Procumbens. Both plants have medicinal value (although Ashitaba has much stronger healing properties) and belong to the same family but they are not same plants. Ashitaba has Japanese origin and its common name is tomorrow leaf. Even now a days many people sell Gynura as Ashitaba largely because Gynura seeds are more readily available commercially. The plants do look similar however, if you look carefully Ashitaba leaves are a bit darker green in color and the ridges of their leaves are also more prominent.

The big thing that makes Ashitaba (Angelica Keiskei) such a incredible healing plant even among leafy greens is it’s concentration of the substance chalcones as well as a anti-oxidant content that exceeds even matcha green tea. So although Gynura is a great leafy green it isn’t on the same level as Angelica Keiskei and you shouldn’t let anyone fool you into thinking it is Ashitaba.

Gynura Procumbens has different medicinal perks and really should be consumed fresh like other delicate greens (Spinach, Lettuce etc.). In the rest of this article we will discuss the health benefits this plant has when consumed fresh.

Benefits of Gynura- Top 20 Reasons for You to Use Gynura!

Gynura isn’t called longevity spinach for nothing. This green plant is like heaven on earth, with tons of health concealed in it. Gynura contains amino acids, carotenoids, alkaloids and many essential oils. These bioactive elements have wide range of therapeutic applications. Given below are some of the benefits of Gynura that you might enjoy:

1. It lowers your blood pressure

Hypertension can be fatal and keeping it untreated isn’t wise. But are you uncomfortable with popping tablets for hypertension? If yes, try 100% organic methods. Gynura Procumbens has been used as a therapy for lowering high blood pressure for decades. iScientific research has proven its efficacy as an effective anti-hypertensive remedy.

Gynura has constituents that cause inhibition of calcium influx in muscles of your blood vessels. Due to the absence of calcium, the muscles of blood vessels relax and blood pressure lowers. It also enhances levels of nitric oxides in your blood, which dilates your blood vessels. Your blood flow smoothens and body becomes happy again!

2. It protects you from viral disease “herpes”

Herpes is a viral infection caused by herpes simplex virus. It is mainly characterized by blisters around mouth, fever and cold sores. Herpes simplex virus stays low profile in your body and may cause recurrent infections. But here Gynura enters into the picture and rescues you from these deadly viral infections. Yes, with many other beneficial effects, this miraculous plant can stop herpes virus too.

iiResearch has proven anti-herpetic actions of Gynura Procumbens. It does so by reducing replication ability of virus. With virus not being able to replicate, due to supplementation of Gynura, you become safe from potential infections. Besides herpes, G. Procumbens is famous for fighting other viral infections too. It has potent anti-microbial properties, which make it effective against the little trouble makers invading your body.

3. It lowers blood sugar levels

Diabetes has emerged as one of the commonest diseases in the last few decades. Generally speaking, diabetes occurs due to low levels of insulin in the body, which leads to high glucose levels in blood. Not being able to lower blood sugar level is crippling because your body becomes vulnerable to metabolic damages. So, diabetes can’t be left untreated but many patients are reluctant to use pharmacological drugs. Gynura Procumbens provides an herbal alternative to you.

In African regions, practitioners have been using this shrub for decades to treat diabetes. But recently it has gained much importance in scientific circles. iiiResearch shows that Gynura lowers blood glucose levels and can be used as an effective remedy against diabetes. Its leaf extract has bioactive constituents that ensure anti-diabetic action.

4. It has powerful anti-oxidant effects

ivResearch shows that Gynura Procumbens has strong anti-oxidant potential. This miraculous plant has phenol compounds trapped in its leaves. These phenolic compounds scavenge free radicals in your body. When free radical clutter of your body is under control, aging stays away.

Confused? Don’t let these fancy words get to you. Making it simple, with advancing age, tons of free radicals- a kind of toxin- are produced in your body. These free radicals damage cellular membranes and DNA, pushing you in the wreck of aging. Gynura pushes you back and keeps you young by neutralizing these trouble makers. Now you know why it’s called longevity spinach, don’t you?

5. Gynura is highly anti-cancer in nature

Cancer surfaces due to uncontrolled proliferation of cells and humanity is still struggling with its treatment. However, Gynura Procumbens is an emerging herbal anti-cancer remedy. Proteins extracted from its leaves include miraculin, peroxidase, thaumatin-like proteins. These proteins control abnormal cellular growth, thus have therapeutic effects on tumors, especially tumors of the colon and bones.

vResearch shows that Gynura is equally effective in alleviating breast cancer. So, one healthy habit of supplementing your diet with leaves of this plant, and you will be safe from potential cancers.

6. It has anti-hyperlipidemic effect

Diabetics are particularly monitored for their lipid profile because they are vulnerable to hyperlipidemia. It has been established above that longevity spinach has anti-diabetic effects. But, here is another wonderful effect of this plant i.e. lowering cholesterol and triglycerides levels in the body. Yes, anti-diabetic and anti-hyperlipidemic effects go hand in hand. So, Gynura is a gateway to brighten up your lipid profile.

viResearch shows that along with glucose lowering effects, ethanolic extract of plant’s leaves has anti-hyperlipidemic effects as well. Low cholesterol levels protect you from heart and liver diseases, ensuring maximum health. Weight loss is another perk, considering its lipid lowering properties. In a nutshell, Gynura is a complete health package for a diabetic patient.

7. It protects you from stomach ulcers

Many herbal plants have always been used for gastrointestinal ailments. You might have seen your great grandmother asking you to take an herbal powder for heartburn. Gynura is also one of those gastro-protective plants. However, the good news is that it does something bigger than heart burn or acidity. It alleviates ulcers of gastrointestinal tracts.

viiResearch shows that Gynura has anti-ulcerogenic activity. It protects mucosa (the inner layer of gut) from damage, thus ensures a healthy gut!

8. It enhances wound healing

Wound healing is a physiological process that starts right after the injury occurs. It’s like your body uses its resources to perform self-healing. When it gets completed, a scar forms as a souvenir of injury and efforts made by your body. However, you can manipulate this whole process into speeding up and leaving less prominent scar. Out of many natural and pharmacological dressings, one of the best, scientifically backed is Gynura.

viiiResearch has shown its efficacy in speeding up wound injury at a considerably fast pace. If you supplement wound healing with leaf extract of this plant the scar forming at the end is lesser in width. The inflammation is less invasive and collagen buildup is extensive- healthy sign for wound healing. Angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels) and granular tissue (fibers that help in healing) both are prominent.

9. Inflammation stays at a distance from you

Gynura has been famous for anti-inflammatory effects. But it’s no more a vague mid-wife story practiced without any proof. Science has proved its capabilities in keeping inflammation at bay. It contains many bioactive constituents, alkaloids and steroids. These alkaloids play vital role in warding off inflammation. ixSteroids present in this plant are also responsible of anti-inflammatory actions.

10. It’s an effective remedy for rheumatism

Alternative practitioners have used Gynura for rheumatism for ages. And owing to the anti-inflammatory effects of this plant, it seems logical enough. So, make this plan a part of your life and you’ll see these effects for yourself!

11. It modulates immune system

Gynura is one of those medicinal plants that have immune modulating effects. They stimulate growth of human lymphocytes- cells of immune systems. Consuming these plants also impacts growth of natural killer (NK) cells- another variety of immune cells. Both these cell- lymphocytes and NK- make vital part of your immune system and ensure that your bodily defenses are high enough. They make your body capable to fight against foreign invaders in the form of viruses and bacteria. xThe efficacy of Gynura in guaranteeing healthy immunity is a proven fact.

12. Gynura protects your heart

To protect your heart, you have to make sure two things are right in your body. Blood pressure at its normal measurement and lipids under control. Gynura ensures achievement of both these therapeutic goals. It produces nitric oxide, which is a powerful vasodilator and lowers blood pressure. Blood pressure under control diminishes the risk of extra load on heart. Gynura also lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body which makes sure atherosclerosis doesn’t appear. With both these therapeutic goals unlocked, you can hack yourself a secret of healthy heart.

13. It’s good news for your kidneys

Gynura is your kidneys’ long lost friend and science has discovered it again. xiResearchers have found that Gynura has healthy impacts on progressive kidney disease. Bioactive compounds present in its leaf extract inhibit proliferation of mesangial cells (cells present in kidney). They also decrease expression of some harmful proteins, thus act as protective agents for kidneys. Considering this, it can be claimed as effective remedy for the management of kidney diseases.

14. It boosts reproductive health

Speaking of reproductive health, this plant is mainly concerned with diabetic males. Diabetic males have more oxidative stress in their body, which affects sperm quality and motility. In such cases Gynura can help you in keeping sperm quality intact. It clears away toxins- oxidative stress- from your body and produces nutrition for sperm. As a result, both the motility and quantity of sperm increase. So, as xiiresearch has proven, Gynura is a guaranteed refuge for diabetic males looking for healthy sperms and improved reproductive health!

15. It wards off skin diseases

Going natural for skin treatments isn’t new. Our elders have always advised us to use natural products for beautifying skin because they have minimal side effects. But surprisingly, story doesn’t end here. Some organic plants can not only give glowing effect to your skin, but also treat skin cancer. Topical application of Gynura can do this for you.

It keeps a check on skin cells proliferation, warding off any possibility of skin cancer. It also saves you from photo-aging, caused by UV exposure. Sunlight exposure can’t be eliminated completely so there’s always a risk of damage caused by UV rays. Longevity spinach makes sure that you stay safe from UV induced damage (production of free radicals) and premature aging. This claim is backed by scientific xiiiresearch. So with supplementation of Gynura, you don’t have to worry about aging skin.

16. It is used in medicines for covering bitter taste

This is a benefit loved by pharmaceutical industries because it solves their one of the biggest problems. Gynura has a protein miraculin which makes up more than 0.1% of its protein extract. Miraculin protein is used to make taste of bitter medicine, better and useable. Miraculin produced by recombinant technology is not feasible and its commercial value is low. However, xivresearch says that miraculin present in this natural heaven has high commercial value. So, it’s definitely good news for pharmacists.

17. Gynura has antifungal effects

xvAmong many medicinal plants found in Malaysia, Gynura is one of those which have high anti-fungal activity. So, it can be claimed that besides having anti-viral effects, longevity spinach also wards off fungal infections.

18. It is used as a medicinal tooth paste

Having teeth troubles? Make herbal toothpaste for you. Gynura is used to make a medicinal tooth paste with 1-20% extract of it. It also contains compounds like glycol, diglycol, abradant, carboxymethyl cellulose and others in various concentrations. This mixture is used as a dental cream and acts as an effective anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-phologosis (anti-inflammatory for external parts of body). So, cut back on your dental bills and find an organic remedy once and for all!

19. Your liver stays protected

Flavonoids present in Gynura extract scavenge free radicals and protects your liver. They act like a detox therapy, freeing your body from poisons and giving your liver a break!

20. It alleviates constipation and dysentery

Gynura has been used in folk medicines for alleviating constipation and dysentery. Considering its anti-microbial effects and gastro-protective role, it isn’t a lost cause!

What does the safety profile says?

Talking about the toxicological evaluations of G Procumbens, you don’t have to worry. The safety profile of this plant is highly encouraging. No side effects have been reported particularly with leaf extracts. So, if consumed in moderate amounts, you’re all set to enjoy tons of perks with no hazardous effects!

How to consume this wonder plant?

There are tons of ways, you can consume this plant. It’s leaves have bland taste so crush them and put in smoothies or soups. You can use them in sandwiches or salads as a snack. Basically use it any way you would use any other delicate leafy green and you can enjoy all these health perks!

Sources for this article:

i See‐Ziau Hoe,I Chen‐Neng Lee,II Shiueh‐Lian Mok,II Mohd Yusoff Kamaruddin,III and Sau‐Kuen LamI. Gynura procumbens Merr. decreases blood pressure in rats by vasodilatation via inhibition of calcium channels. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2011 Jan; 66(1): 143–150. doi: 10.1590/S1807-59322011000100025

ii Siripen Jarikasem, Somyot Charuwichitratana, Sontana Siritantikorn, Wasan Chantratita, Magdy Iskander, August Wilhelm Frahm, Weena Jiratchariyakul. Antiherpetic Effects of Gynura procumbens.

iii Khalid Algariri,1 Kuong Y Meng,1 Item J Atangwho,1,2,* Mohd Z Asmawi,1 Amirin Sadikun,1 Vikneswaran Murugaiyah,1 and Norhyati Ismail1. Hypoglycemic and anti-hyperglycemic study of Gynura procumbens leaf extracts. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2013 May; 3(5): 358–366.

doi: 10.1016/S2221-1691(13)60077-5

iv Rosidah*a, Mun Yama, Amirin Sadikuna & Mohd. Asmawia. Antioxidant Potential of Gynura procumbens. Pharmaceutical Biology. Volume 46, Issue 9, 2008

v Nunuk Aries Nurulita, Edy Meiyanto , Sugiyanto, Eishou Matsuda, Masashi Kawaichi. Gynura procumbens modulates the microtubules integrity and enhances distinct mechanism on doxorubicin and 5-flurouracil-induced breast cancer cell death. Research Article. Oriental Pharmacy and Experimental Medicine

September 2012, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 205-218

vi Zhang XF1, Tan BK. Effects of an ethanolic extract of Gynura procumbens on serum glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels in normal and streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Singapore Med J. 2000 Jan;41(1):9-13.

vii A. A. Mahmood, Abdalbasit A. Mariod, 2, Fouad Al-Bayaty, Siddig Ibrahim Abdel-Wahab. Anti-ulcerogenic activity of Gynura procumbens leaf extract against experimentally-induced gastric lesions in rats. Sudan University and Technology

viii A. A. Zahra1 , F. A. Kadir2 *, A. A. Mahmood1 , A. A. Al hadi3 , S. M. Suzy, S. Z. Sabri 3, I. I. Latif1 and K. A. Ketuly3. Acute toxicity study and wound healing potential of Gynura procumbens leaf extract in rats. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research Vol. 5(12), pp. 2551-2558, 18 June, 2011. Available online at ISSN 1996-0875 ©2011 Academic Journals

ix Iskander MN1, Song Y, Coupar IM, Jiratchariyakul W. Antiinflammatory screening of the medicinal plant Gynura procumbens. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2002 Fall;57(3-4):233-44.

x Busarawan Sriwanthana,Weena Treesangsri,Bongkod Boriboontrakul,Somchit Niumsakul. In vitro effects of Thai medicinal plants on human lymphocyte activity. Songklanakarin Journal of Science and Technology 2007

xi Lee HJ, Lee BC, Chung JH, Wiryowidagdo S, Chun W, Kim SS, Kim H, Choe M. Inhibitory Effects of an Aqueous Extract of Gynura procumbens on Human Mesangial Cell Proliferation. Korean J Physiol Pharmacol. 2007 Aug;11(4):145-148. English.

xii Pusparanee Hakim, Halimah Abdullah Sani, Mahanem Mat Noor. Effects of Gynura procumbens Extract and Glibenclamide on Sperm Quality and Specific Activity of Testicular Lactate Dehydrogenase in

Streptozotocin-induced Diabetic Rats. Malaysian Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ISSN 1511-2616)

xiii Junoh Kima, b, Chan-Woo Leea, Eun Kyung Kimc, Su-Jin Leea, Nok-Hyun Parka, Han-Sung Kima, Han-Kon Kima, Kookheon Charb, Young Pyo Jangc, d, , , Jin-Woong Kime, , Inhibition effect of Gynura procumbens extract on UV-B-induced matrix-metalloproteinase expression in human dermal fibroblasts. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Volume 137, Issue 1, 1 September 2011, Pages 427–433

xiv Chaw-Sen Hew, Lay-Harn Gam. Proteome Analysis of Abundant Proteins Extracted from the Leaf of Gynura procumbens (Lour.) Merr. Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology

December 2011, Volume 165, Issue 7, pp 1577-1586

xv Nazmul MHM1 , Salmah I2 , Syahid A2 , Mahmood AA. In-vitro screening of antifungal activity of plants in Malaysia. Biomedical Research 2011; 22 (1): 28-30

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