Gymnema Sylvestre is a climbing plant found in the tropical forests of India and Asia. Its leaves have been used as a natural Ayurvedic treatment for diabetes and arthritis since the sixth century B.C., and it has earned significant recent interest as a multi-supportive therapy for weight management.
Today, gymnema is used for diabetes, metabolic syndrome, weight loss, and cough. It is also used for malaria and as a snakebite antidote, digestive stimulant, laxative, appetite suppressant, and diuretic. The Hindi name, Gurmar, means “sugar destroyer.”
Evidence cited by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM suggests gymnema can reduce cravings for sweets, sugar absorption during digestion, and promote normal blood sugar levels.
Some of the research demonstrates Gymnema helps suppress the appetite. In another study, the herb was shown to block sugar absorption. Structurally, gymnemic acids are very similar to glucose and behave in the intestine in a similar way. When gymnemic acids lock in to intestinal receptors, they effectively lock out glucose. This prevents sugar from being absorbed, which helps balance blood sugar, and promotes lean body mass by lessening the amount of sugar that gets stored as fat. It also helps lower blood sugar levels by slowing the transport of glucose from the intestines to the bloodstream. On the flip side, it may help increase insulin levels in the pancreas, assisting in blood sugar level maintenance. This is particularly important in Type I diabetes.
Obviously, all of these benefits make Gymnema a stellar herb for the fight against Diabetes. And there are clinical trials to support the claims. Dr. Whitaker on www.drwhitaker.com lists two of the studies:
In one clinical trial, 22 people with type 2 diabetes who were taking oral diabetes drugs also took 400 mg of Gymnema sylvestre extract (as GS4) daily. Participants experienced significant reductions in blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c and glycosolated plasma protein levels. More remarkably, at the end of the 18-month study, the participants were able to reduce their drug dosages, and five of the study subjects were able to effectively maintain normal blood sugar levels with the GS4 alone. The researchers concluded, “the beta cells may be regenerated in type 2 diabetic patients on GS4 (Gymnema sylvestre) supplementation.”
In another study, researchers gave 27 people with type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes 400 mg of Gymnema sylvestre extract (GS4) daily. After 10 to 12 months, Gymnema sylvestre extract conferred a number of benefits, including reductions in fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c and glycosylated plasma protein levels. Insulin requirements were also reduced.
There is also some evidence that Gymnema supports weight loss. A 2012 study by researchers in the Department of Biology at Sri Venkateswara University produced astounding conclusions in support of the herb’s role as a weight loss aid. Over the course of 8 weeks, researchers administered a Gymnema extract to obese rats. At the end of the study, it was noted that the rats had experienced a decrease in body weight and food consumption. To some surprise, it was also noted that “bad cholesterol” levels had fallen.
WebMD.com lists the following Side Effects/Interactions for Gymnema:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking gymnema if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Surgery: Gymnema might affect blood sugar levels and could interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgical procedures. Stop using gymnema at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have an acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or email Karen Callahan at firstname.lastname@example.org.