Longevity Foods Cultivated in Southeast Asia

Kara Bauer Health Guide
  • It’s always fun to see those fresh foods you usually only see in supplement form being consumed in great quantities by the natives of the lands where they are cultivated. While travelling throughout Southeast Asia, I’ve learned about the amazing health benefits of three longevity foods readily available here, Jiaogulon, Gotu Kola and Noni, all of which can also be found in capsule, powder, cream and extract form in the United States and Europe.


    Jiaogulon (Tea or Supplement)

    Jiaogulon or Gynostemma Pentaphyllum is an herb that grows in the wild throughout China, but is also cultivated in other parts of Southeast Asia. Known as an “immortality herb” in Chinese medicine, Jiaogulon is adaptogenic which means it helps the body maintain homeostasis or self-regulate by balancing the nuero-endocrine system. It also is great for those with high blood pressure as it releases a vessel relaxer called nitric oxide. Jiagulon contains a powerful antioxidant called superoxide dismutase (SOD) and is therefore excellent for strengthening the immune system and preventing free radical damage, which leads to disease.[1] Other conditions it’s used for as a prevention/treatment method are respiratory infections, high cholesterol, heart function, inflammation, gastrointestinal problems, diabetes, cancer, loss of appetite, memory, stamina and hair loss.[2]  It is also a powerful longevity/anti-aging herb and equally great for detoxification.

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    Scientific Study Example: A study conducted on rats showed that and extract derived from Gynostemma Pentaphyllum enhanced antioxidant ability, decreased oxidative DNA damage and reduced glial cell inflammation. The study concluded that it might have therapeutic potential for dementia induced by chronic cerebral hypoperfusion.[3]


    Gotu Kola (Garnish, Refreshing Juice or Supplement)

    Gotu Kola or Centella Asiatica is an herb used to treat an assortment of health conditions in India, China and Indonesia and is a widely used remedy in both Chinese and Aryuvedic medicine. In the U.S. and Europe, gotu kola is primarily used to treat varicose veins, psoriasis and to heal minor wounds. Its power appears to come from the triterpenoids that it contains, a group of antioxidants, which strengthen the skin and increase blood supply/circulation.[4]For these same reasons and because it can decrease inflammation and increase collagen production, it had also been used to reduce scarring and stretch marks. Other conditions it has medicinal use for include scleroderma, insomnia, bacterial/viral infections, psychiatric disorders, anxiety, fatigue, premature aging, detoxification, adrenal glands, nervous system disorders and high blood pressure.[5] In the Himalayas, yogis use gotu kola to improve their meditation by balancing the crown chakra. Overall, it promotes longevity, improves memory and intelligence, and is said to be as powerful as gingko, bilboa and ginseng combined.


    Scientific Study Example: Centella Asiatica, being part of the Medhya Rasayana family (remedies used to rejuvenate certain organs and tissues) has been shown to retard brain aging and help regenerate neural tissues, reducing stress and improving memory.[6] 


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    Noni or Morinda Citrifolia is native to Southeast Asia, Australia and the South Pacific. It’s a small tree that is cultivated in the tropics as it grows in shady forests and rocky/sandy shores. The tree produces a fruit that can be made into a juice or tonic. Due to its fairly unpleasant taste, the juice can be mixed with other fruit juices to make it more appealing. In addition to the fruit, the bark and leaves can be used to create tonics or teas. Noni is high in potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A and trace minerals. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Its selenium content makes it great for skin health. Noni also has been said to improve the immune system, stimulate white blood cell production and even fight cancer. It may also be supportive for those with cardiovascular disease or diabetes.[7] 


    Scientific Study Example:

    The National Cancer Institute is currently funding studies on noni’s healing properties, which appears to have some research backed anticancer activity based on a few in vitro and in vivo animal studies.[8] 


    [1] (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.immortalitea.com/jiaogulan-capsules-c-69.html


    [2] (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-265-JIAOGULAN.aspx?activeIngredientId=265&activeIngredientName=JIAOGULAN


    [3] Pubmed.gov "Gypenosides improve cognitive impairment induced by chronic cerebral hypoperfusion in rats by suppressing oxidative stress and astrocytic activation," GL Zhang, et. al. Behavioural Pharmacology, October 2011:22(7):633-44. doi: 10.1097/FBP.0b013e32834afef9. 



    [4] (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/gotu-kola-000253.htm


    [5] (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-753-GOTU%20KOLA.aspx?activeIngredientId=753&activeIngredientName=GOTU%20KOLA


    [6] Pubmed.gov "Neuronutrient impact of Ayurvedic Rasayana therapy in brain aging," RH Singh, et. al. Biogerontology, December 2008:9(6):369-74. doi: 10.1007/s10522-008-9185-z. Epub 2008 Oct 18.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18931935 


    [7] (n.d.) Retrieved from http://nccam.nih.gov/health/noni


    [8] Pubmed.gov "Anticancer activity of Morinda citrifolia (Noni) fruit: a review," AC Brown. Phytotherapy Research: PTR, October 2012: 26(10):1427-40. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4595. Epub 2012 Feb 17.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22344842 




Published On: December 19, 2012