Gynostemma pentaphyllum, or jiaogulan, a curious name to indicate a plant with really powerful beneficial properties for eye health and more. Known for centuries and used in traditional oriental medicine, gynostemma is considered nowadays, thanks to several scientific studies that are highlighting its therapeutic action, able to stimulate the immune system, to regulate cholesterol and blood pressure, to counteract free radicals and, as shown by a recent study, also to protect the retina from the degenerations that can affect this important part of human body. The study was published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology by a team of the University of Glasgow (Alhasani et al, Feb 2018).
Scientists started from the consideration that oxidative stress plays an important role in the development of degenerative retinal pathologies. For this reason, the research team of the University of Glascow tried to treat retinal tissue cells with particular substances, called gipenosides, highly antioxidant and anti-inflammatory extracted from the Gynostemma pentaphyllum plant. Gipenosides had already shown, in previous studies, to be able to protect against optic neuritis, which is the inflammation of the optic nerve. What the scientists observed was that the cells treated in this way increased vitality and reduced mortality. Not only that, in cells subjected to oxidative stress but not treated with gipenosides there was a decrease of important proteins, called Nrf2, responsible for the regulation of other proteins that perform an antioxidant action. This decrease was not seen in cells treated with gipenosides.
This study has therefore paved the way for new therapeutic treatments to counteract the degenerative diseases that can affect the retina. Other studies will follow to better understand the action of the active substances extracted from the Gynostemma pentaphyllum plant, but in the meantime here is another study that shows how nature often provides us with powerful tools to combat various diseases that can affect the body.