, Volume 4, Issue 2-3, pp 197-219

Chemistry and Pharmacology of Gynostemma pentaphyllum

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In traditional Chinese medicine, Gynostemma pentaphyllum (Thunb.) Makino is a herbal drug of extreme versatility and has been extensively researched in China. The dammarane saponins isolated from Gynostemma pentaphyllum, namely gypenosides or gynosaponins, are believed to be the active components responsible for its various biological activities and reported clinical effects. This review attempts to encompass the available literature on Gynostemma pentaphyllum, from its cultivation to the isolation of its chemical entities and a summary of its diverse pharmacological properties attributed to its gypenoside content. Other aspects such as toxicology and pharmacokinetics are also discussed. In vitro and in vivo evidence suggests that Gynostemma pentaphyllum may complement the popular herbal medicine, Panax ginseng, as it also contains a high ginsenoside content and exhibits similar biological activities.