Side effects of jiaogulan, a Chinese plant similar to ginseng, include severe nausea and increased bowel movements. Birth defects are possible when pregnant women take it, states WebMD. There is also concern that it may worsen bleeding disorders, so individuals should not take it prior to a surgery.
Individuals should only take jiaogulan by mouth and for no longer than four months, says WebMD. Those with auto-immune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, should use jiaogulan with caution because it may strengthen the immune system, thereby intensifying the symptoms of these diseases. Insufficient evidence exists regarding the safety of taking jiaogulan when breastfeeding, so it is best for nursing mothers to avoid using it.
Though the evidence for its efficacy is insufficient, people often use jiaogulan to treat a number of ailments, including high blood pressure, poor heart function, poor appetite, cough and chronic bronchitis, according to WebMD. People also use it to treat stomach pain and swelling, constipation, poor memory, stress and obesity. Cancer, diabetes, insomnia, backache, hair loss and pain may also respond to jiaogulan. Sufficient evidence exists to conclude that jiaogulan is possibly effective in reducing cholesterol.
Because it grows in south central China, “Southern Ginseng” is another moniker for jiaogulan. People use the leaves of the jiaogulan plant to make the jiaogulan medicine.