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.
To lower high cholesterol
There is no scientific evidence to support this claim.
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.)
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 that belongs to the same genus as cholesterol spinach was shown to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in diabetic rats (2). However, cholesterol spinach has not yet been studied for any indication.
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)
Immunocompromised patients should be cautioned when consuming raw vegetables due to possible contamination. (3)
Tswei, S. In The Garden.Honolulu Star-Bulletin. January 21, 2000. Accessed May 9, 2011.