A vigorous climbing vine, Gymnema (also known as Gymnema Sylvestre) is native to the jungles and meadows of southern India. Its leaves are used medicinally and when chewed directly appear to interfere with ability to taste sweet foods. For this reason the herb is known in Hindi as gurmar, or sugar destroyer.
While gymnema sylvestre is used in connection with a variety of health conditions, it has gained most of its popularity for its purported ability to regulate and lower blood sugar levels. Additionally, a few studies indicate that gymena sylvestre may help to remedy both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. First, the chemical compounds found in gymena sylvestre appear to lower the amount of sugar processed by the stomach. Finally, it has been shown that chewing on the leaves of gymnema sylvestre numbs a person's taste for sweets whereby decreasing their desire to eat foods containing high amounts of sugar. Gymnema may also be able to raise insulin levels. However, gymnema used as a treatment for diabetes has in now way been verfied by clinical evidence.
Some studies have shown that supplementation with gymnema sylvestre may reduce blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and also block the absorption of dietary fats into the bloodstream.Precautions and Possible Side Effects
Because gymnema sylvestre may lower blood sugar levels, individuals who have diabetes should use this herb with caution. If blood sugar levels fall too low, shakiness, sweating, confusion, distorted speech, and loss of muscle control may occur. If it is not corrected, low blood sugar can lead to unconsciousness and even death. Dosage and Administration
In human studies, the most common doses of gymnema sylvestre used for blood sugar control were 400 mg to 600 mg per day. Gymnema sylvestre is commonly added to many different combinations of herbal products, but the majority of studies used a standardized product that contains only gymnema sylvestre.Note
- Gymnema sylvestre needs more studying before it can be recommended as a medical supplement.Supporting LiteratureMurakami N, Murakami T, and Kadoya M. New hypoglycemic constituents in gymnemic acid from Gymnema sylvestre. Chem Pharm Bull 1996;44:469-471.
Shigematsu N, Asano R, and Okazaki M. Effect of administration with the extract of Gymnema sylvestre leaves on lipid metabolism in rats. Biol Pharm Bull 2001;24:713-717.
Min BC, Sakamoto K. Influence of sweet suppressing agent on gustatory brain evoked potentials generated by taste stimuli. Appl Human Sci 1998;17:9-17.