Cholesterol Spinach

Health Care Professional Information

Scientific Name
Gynura nepalensis
Common Name

Dawn Dewa, Leaves of the Gods, Googoolipid, Mollucan spinach

Clinical Summary

Native to Nepal, cholesterol spinach is a hardy, fast-growing plant and is related to Okinawan spinach. It has gained popularity in Hawaii based on the anecdotal evidence of its cholesterol-lowering effects (1).
A plant of the same genus as cholesterol spinach lowered cholesterol and triglyceride levels in diabetic rats (2), but cholesterol spinach has not been studied so far.

Purported Uses
  • High cholesterol
Mechanism of Action

An extract of a related species, Gynura procumbens, reduced serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels in diabetic rats. G. procumbens did not affect cytochrome P450 activity. Whether the effects or mechanism of action of G. procumbens are similar to G. nepalensis has not been determined.
(2)

Contraindications

Immunocompromised patients should be cautioned when consuming raw vegetables due to possible contamination.
(3)

References
  1. Tswei, S. In The Garden. Honolulu Star-Bulletin. January 21, 2000. Accessed May 9, 2011.
  2. Zhang XF, et al. 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;41:9-13.
  3. Wu ML, et al. Food poisoning due to methamidophos-contaminated vegetables. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 2001;39:333-6.

Consumer Information

How It Works

Bottom Line: Despite the anecdotes from Hawaii about this plant being able to lower cholesterol, there is no scientific evidence that it works.

Cholesterol spinach (also known as dawn dewa, Mollucan spinach) is a plant originally cultivated in Nepal that has received much attention lately for its use in Hawaii as a cholesterol-lowering nutritional supplement. Despite the excitement over this plant, there is no scientific evidence that explains why it might work to lower cholesterol. It has not been tested in animals, but a related species of plant was found to reduce blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides when fed to rats with diabetes. However, scientists are not sure that this related species would have the same biological effects as cholesterol spinach, so these results cannot really be applied to what effects cholesterol spinach might have in the human body.

Purported Uses
  • To lower high cholesterol
    No scientific evidence supports this use.
Research Evidence

No laboratory, animal, or clinical research has been performed with this plant to test the anecdotal claims of its cholesterol-lowering potential.

Do Not Take If
  • You have a weakened immune system due to chemotherapy, HIV infection, immuno-suppressant drugs, or any other causes (there is a potential for raw vegetables to be contaminated with bacteria, fungi, or other pathogens.)
E-mail your questions and comments to aboutherbs@mskcc.org.