What Is Gymnema?
Gymnema is a woody climbing shrub native to India and Africa. The leaves are used to make medicine. Gymnema has a long history of use in India’s Ayurvedic medicine. The Hindi name, gurmar, means “destroyer of sugar.”
Today, gymnema is used for diabetes, metabolic syndrome, weight loss, and cough. It is also used for malaria and as a snake bite antidote, digestive stimulant, laxative, appetite suppressant, and diuretic.
How does it work?
Gymnema contains substances that decrease the absorption of sugar from the intestine. Gymnema may also increase the amount of insulin in the body and increase the growth of cells in the pancreas, which is the place in the body where insulin is made.
Uses of Gymnema
- Early research suggests that taking a specific gymnema extract (GS4) by mouth, in combination with insulin or diabetesmedications, can enhance blood sugar reduction in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
- Weight loss. Early research suggests that taking a specific combination of gymnema extract, hydroxycitric acid, and niacin-bound chromium by mouth for 8 weeks might reduce body weight in people who are overweight or obese.
- Metabolic syndrome.
- Stimulating digestion.
- Snake bites.
- Softening the stool (laxative).
- Increasing urine excretion (diuretic).
What Research Says About Diabetes And Gymnema Sylvestre?
One study looked at the effectiveness of GS4, which is an extract from the Gymnema sylvestre leaves, in the management of hyperglycemia. The study investigated 22 patients with type 2 diabetes. These patients were also taking regular oral medications to control their diabetes. GS4 was given to each of the study’s participants at 400 milligrams per day, for 18 to 20 months. Each participant was on both – the supplement and the conventional anti-diabetic drug. During GS4 supplementation, these participants showed decreased fasting blood glucose levels, hemoglobin A1c levels and glycosylated plasma protein levels. The supplement was so successful that five participants from the study were able to stop their conventional drug treatment. It was noted that they were able to maintain normal levels of glucose and hemoglobin A1c even after their conventional treatments were discontinued. Researchers determined that the beta cells of the pancreas may have been repaired or regenerated in the participants who took GS4 as a supplement for their diabetes. Increased insulin levels were found in those patients who took the GS4 supplement.
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, it was found that the Gymnema sylvestre extract had conferred a number of benefits. Reductions in fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c and glycosylated plasma protein levels were noticed. Insulin requirements were also reduced.
How Gymnema Sylvestre Works
Gymnema sylvestre appears to work by suppressing a desire for sugary foods, as well as balancing blood sugar levels.
Physiologically speaking, there does seem to be good evidence that Gymnema sylvestre lowers sugar cravings. The herb contains Gymnemic acid, a nutrient found in certain plants that have been proven to suppress sweetness.
Additionally, Gymnemic acid is structurally similar to glucose. The theory is that when you consume Gymnema sylvestre, it fills your taste bud receptors. This then prevents glucose from docking in those same receptors and cuts your craving for sugar and sweets.
Because Gymnemic acid is similar to glucose, Gymnema sylvestre may also lock into the glucose receptors in your intestines. This prevents the absorption of sugar molecules, leading to balanced blood sugar levels even when you consume sugar-based foods.
Gymnema Sylvestre And Diabetes: The Verdict
Gymnema sylvestre is not a substitute for diabetes medication. While lowering high blood sugar is, generally, a positive thing in people with diabetes, lowering it too much can be extremely dangerous. If you’re going to supplement with Gymnema sylvestre to treat your diabetes, please do so under your doctor’s supervision. Check your blood sugar levels more often until you know how it affects your body. Also, check your blood sugar levels every time you increase the dosage.
There are many natural supplements that can help you counter the side effects of prescription anti-diabetic drugs. They may also protect your body from other side effects that occur when vital nutrients are lost from the body as a result of drugs.
Finally, remember that no supplement can overcome a diet filled with processed sugars. Even if Gymnema sylvestre does help you suppress that sugar and carb cravings, you will still need to follow a well-rounded diet and engage in moderate daily exercise. The weight reduction properties shown by Gymnema slvestre are yet to be fully researched, but it is a valuable ally in your corner in the fight against diabetes and obesity.