What is Gymnema Sylvestre?
Gymnema sylvestre, a climbing shrub with a woody stem, is indigenous to the tropical forests of India, Africa, and Australia. For centuries, its leaves have been utilized in Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient Indian therapeutic practice.
Gymnema sylvestre has been a conventional remedy for diverse health issues, including diabetes, malaria, and snakebites, as per a trustworthy source. Because of its capacity to hinder sugar absorption, this herb has garnered significant attention from Western medicine researchers.
The following are four noteworthy health benefits of Gymnema sylvestre.
By diminishing the palatability of sweet foods, it reduces the desire for sugary treats.
Gymnema sylvestre has the potential to decrease sugar cravings. The primary active compound in this plant is gymnemic acid, which can inhibit sweetness (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source). When consumed before consuming sugary foods or drinks, it blocks the sugar receptors on taste buds (1Trusted Source).
Studies reveal that extracts of Gymnema sylvestre can lower the ability to perceive sweetness, resulting in reduced appeal for sweet foods (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source). In a research study involving fasting individuals, half received Gymnema extract. Compared to those not taking the extract, those who got the supplement had a lower appetite for sweet foods at a subsequent meal and were more likely to limit their food consumption.
Helps Lower Blood Sugar Levels
The World Health Organization reports that over 420 million individuals globally suffer from diabetes, and this figure is projected to rise (3Trusted Source). Diabetes is a metabolic ailment characterized by elevated levels of blood sugar due to the incapacity of the body to produce or effectively use insulin.
Gymnema sylvestre is believed to possess anti-diabetic properties. As a supplement, it is used alongside other diabetes medications to reduce blood sugar. It’s also known as gurmar, a Hindi term that translates to “destroyer of sugar” (4Trusted Source).
Just like its effects on taste buds, Gymnema sylvestre can obstruct receptors in the intestines, thereby reducing sugar absorption and lowering post-meal blood sugar levels.
Although scientific evidence is inadequate to recommend Gymnema as a stand-alone diabetes medication, research shows significant potential. Research indicates that taking 200-400 mg of gymnemic acid can lower the intestinal absorption of glucose (4Trusted Source).
In one study, Gymnema seemed to enhance blood sugar control in individuals with type 2 diabetes by reducing blood sugar levels (5). The study concluded that lowering blood sugar after a meal resulted in a decrease in average blood sugar levels over time, which could aid in reducing diabetes-related long-term complications (5).
For individuals with elevated blood sugar or HbA1c levels, Gymnema sylvestre can help reduce fasting, post-meal, and long-term blood sugar levels. However, if you’re taking blood sugar-lowering medications, consult with your physician first.
By promoting insulin production, it may help maintain beneficial insulin levels.
Gymnema sylvestre may aid in reducing blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin production and cell regeneration.
Having elevated insulin levels can help eliminate sugar from your bloodstream more rapidly. In individuals with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, their bodies produce insufficient insulin or their cells become less responsive to it over time, resulting in persistently high blood sugar levels.
Gymnema sylvestre may encourage insulin production in the pancreas, fostering the regeneration of islet cells that produce insulin. This can help reduce blood sugar levels (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).
Numerous conventional medications enhance insulin secretion and sensitivity. However, herbal therapies are increasingly being incorporated in drug development.
Remarkably, metformin, the initial anti-diabetic medication, was derived from an herbal formulation extracted from Galega officinalis.
By improving cholesterol and triglyceride levels, it can help lower the risk of heart disease.
Gymnema sylvestre may reduce the risk of heart disease by improving cholesterol and triglyceride levels, specifically by lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides. Research suggests that Gymnema may also influence fat absorption and lipid levels. Animal and human studies show that Gymnema extract aids weight maintenance, decreases blood fat, and increases “good” HDL cholesterol levels. The positive effects of Gymnema on cholesterol and triglyceride levels may contribute to a lower risk of heart conditions.
May Aid Weight Loss
Gymnema sylvestre extracts have demonstrated potential in aiding weight loss in both animals and humans.
According to studies, rats given a water extract of Gymnema sylvestre for three weeks showed a reduction in body weight. In addition, rats on a high-fat diet that received a Gymnema extract gained less weight (10Trusted Source, 12).
Moreover, in a study of 60 moderately-obese individuals taking a Gymnema extract, a 5-6% reduction in body weight and decreased food intake were observed (11Trusted Source).
Gymnema sylvestre blocks sweet receptors on the taste buds, resulting in the consumption of fewer sweet foods and calories. Consistently eating fewer calories can lead to weight loss.
The Bottom Line
Gymnema sylvestre can be a helpful tool in managing sugar cravings and reducing high blood sugar levels, and it may have a positive impact on diabetes treatment. Its potential benefits also include fighting inflammation, aiding in weight loss, and lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
However, it’s important to consult with your doctor before taking the supplement, especially if you plan on combining it with other medications. Nevertheless, drinking a cup of Gymnema sylvestre tea can be a useful option to help you decrease your sugar intake.