Botanical Name: Gymnema sylvestre.
Gymnema means “naked” and sylvestre “from the forest” in Latin).
Other Common Names: Gurmarbooti, gurmar, gurmari, gudma, periploca of the woods, meshasring and mesbasringi.
Habitat: Gymnema sylvestre is found in the tropical forests of India and Southeast Asia.
It thrives in tropical temperatures with plentiful moisture.
Plant Description: This is a woody, climbing vine with ovate or elliptic leaves. The flowers are yellow in color and have a bell shape.
Plant Parts Used: The roots and leaves of this plant are used for herbal purposes.
Therapeutic Uses and Benefits of Gymnema Sylvestre
Gymnema sylvestre is also called gurmar, which is a Hindi name meaning “destroyer of sugar.”
It has been used for thousands of years as an herbal treatment for diabetes.
It has the ability to block the absorption of glucose from the intestines and helps to reduce cravings for sugar.
The reduction of sugar cravings also leads to the use of gymnema for herbal weight loss applications.
Chewing the leaves, or even taking capsule form, can alter the taste of sugar when ingested and reduce the sweetness.
Gymnema sylvestre helps reduce the number of carbohydrates stored in fat stores and increases the amount burned for energy. This leads to a reduction in fat stores and increase in energy available
It has also been suggested that this herb may reduce the number of triglycerides and the amount of LDL, “bad cholesterol”, in the bloodstream. This is an important step in combating cardiac problems, especially common in diabetics.
It also has a slight diuretic effect and has been used to help with water retention.
The leaves have been used to treat stomach ailments, constipation, and liver disease.
The leaves have also demonstrated antibacterial and antiviral properties in liquid applications.
Dosage and Administration
The most common dosage for blood sugar control is 400 to 600 mg of the herb.
Most gymnema sylvestre supplements are standardized to a minimum of 25% gymnemic acid, the active ingredient in the leaves and root.
It is recommended that gymnema be taken with food.
The active ingredients will build up in the system and produce a summative and cumulative effect.
For this reason, it is also recommended that the intake of the herb be spread out during the day, with meals.
Side Effects and Possible Interactions of Gymnema Sylvestre
This herb has been deemed very safe for adults when taken in recommended doses.
Individuals with allergies to the milkweed family may have reactions to this herb, as well.
Its safety in children or women who are pregnant or lactating has not been determined and therefore it should not be taken by this population.
Due to gymnema sylvestre’s blood sugar lowering ability, those people taking anti-hyperglycemic drugs, or other medications for diabetes, need to exercise caution when taking this herb.
It may lead to hypoglycemia, low blood sugar levels. Dosages may need to be adjusted.
It is important to consult with a physician before altering or changing any medication and supplementation program.