Gymnema is perhaps most well known for its ability to help sufferers of diabetes – both types I and II. It assists in a number of ways, including; controlling sugar cravings, pancreas regeneration, blood sugar homeostasis and weight reduction.
This powerful herb contains the phytochemical “gurmarin”, a substance that modifies the ability of the tongue’s perception of sweet and bitter flavours. A study conducted in India revealed that the atomic arrangement of the herb blocks the sugar receptors of taste buds. As a result, sugar taste buds are not stimulated even with sugar intake.
One of the primary active ingredients in Gymnema sylvestre is gymnemic acid – a compound that is structurally similar to glucose but that acts completely differently in the body. Gymnemic acid can block sugar absorption in the intestine and often results in lower blood sugar levels after a meal.
Much research has been done on Gymnema in regard to diabetes, with some studies reporting that gymnemic acid increases the production of insulin, improves glucose utilisation and may even help to regenerate islet beta cells within the pancreas which produce insulin. Findings also indicate that endogenous or natural insulin production results after Gymnema repair to the pancreas.
Gymnema offers a two-pronged attack against one of the biggest culprits in obesity - sugar. Also known as Gurmar, it literally translates as "Sugar Destroyer". If you put this herb on your tongue and then try to eat something sweet, you will not taste the sugar as it blocks absorption of sugar through the taste buds and the intestinal walls. The primary active constituent, "gymnemic acid", has receptors both in the gut and on the tongue that prevent sugar absorption, reducing cravings and supporting blood sugar levels.
Gymnema also stops the utilisation of sugar by blocking the availibility of carbohydrates in the gut, forcing the body to burn its own fat for fuel. By supporting the natural and healthy production and release of insulin into the bloodstream, it helps balance the amount of sugar circulating in the bloodstream while encouraging the body to burn fat as fuel.
The herb is also a mild diuretic and may help with water retention, this is another way Gymnema can help with weight loss.
Folklore and history
Gymnema has been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years for the treatment of various ailments including diabetes (known as Madumeha in Ayurvedic medicine), obesity, rheumatism, arthritis, skin problems, osteoporosis, inflammation of blood vessels, hemorrhoids, asthma, bronchitis, epilepsy, eye problems, microbial infections, and snakebites.
Gymnema has been used for thousands of years as a herbal treatment for diabetes, which was once known as “honey urine” by Indian physicians due to their observing that the urine of the patient would attract ants due to its sweet taste.
Meaning "Tree of Light", Gymnema has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine where it is also used to treat snake bites, colds and intestinal disorders. The leaves are widely used to soothe an upset stomach, for constipation and liver disease.
Take 1 or 2 grams twice daily with meals. Allow several weeks for benefits.
or as recommended by a herbal practitioner.
Gymnemic acids, Gurmarin,
Safe and no known side effects, however do not use in place of insulin without the consultation and support of a herbal practitioner.
People currently taking diabetes medication should consult a doctor before using Gymnema sylvestre and avoid taking it at the same time as prescription drugs or when administering insulin injections. It may be that it reduces your need for such treatments, but this should be closely monitored by your physician if you are diabetic.