Gurmar, also known as gymnema, is native to the tropical forests of southern and central India and Sri Lanka. The herb is a slow-growing, perennial climber with elliptical leaves and small, yellow flowers. The medicinal part of the plant is the leaf, which reduces or eliminates the ability to perceive sweetness. For instance, after eating gurmar, a banana can taste like a bland, overcooked vegetable. This is due to the presence of compounds, known as gymnemic acids, which bind to taste receptors on the tongue. This effect has been known for centuries – the Hindi name gurmar translates as “destroyer of sugar.” Studies have also found these gymnemic acids exhibit anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory activities.
Gurmar is an herb used in Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medical system of India, for treating diabetes, constipation and minor digestive complaints. It is also used to facilitate weight loss.
Studies of gurmar are primarily from India. The focus of these studies is on certain compounds found in the herb, called gymnemic acids, which have been shown to decrease the absorption of sugar from the intestines. These compounds may also increase insulin levels in the body. One study using 400 mg of a water-soluble fraction of gurmar leaves for 18 to 20 months found that patients with diabetes were able to decrease their dose of prescription diabetes medication due to reduction in blood sugar. Five of the patients were able to discontinue use of conventional diabetic medicine entirely, and maintain their healthy blood glucose levels.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCD) states there is developing research suggesting an extract of gurmar, in combination with diabetic medications, can moderate blood sugar levels in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. However, there is insufficient evidence to make specific claims as to the effectiveness of gurmar at this time.
What Makes Gurmar Effective in Managing Diabetes
Gurmar(Gymnema sylvestre ), is a perennial woody vine that grows in tropical areas of India, Africa, and Australia. It has been used in Ayurveda for treating range of conditions like allergies, cough and constipation.
Gymnema sylvestre leaves contain triterpenoid saponins, flavorless, and gurmarin. Triterpenoid saponins, have the effect of suppressing the taste of sweetness on the tongue from sugar, stevia and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.
A study published in the Journal of Asian Natural Products Research, tried to investigate Antihyperglycemic effects of gymnemic acid IV, a compound derived from Gymnema sylvestre leaves in diabetic mice. The study noted that gymnema extract if taken orally along with insulin or diabetes medications, it could lead to blood sugar reduction in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes is enhanced.Previous studies have also shown how Gymnema sylvestre extracts may play an instrumental role in reducing cravings for sugar.
6 Impressive Health Benefits of Gymnema Sylvestre
Gymnema sylvestre is a woody climbing shrub that’s native to the tropical forests of India, Africa and Australia.
Its leaves have been used in the ancient Indian medicinal practice Ayurveda for thousands of years.
It has been a traditional remedy for various ailments, including diabetes, malaria and snakebites (1Trusted Source).
This herb is thought to inhibit sugar absorption and thus has become a popular study subject in Western medicine.
1. Reduces Sugar Cravings by Making Sweet Foods Taste Less Appealing
One of the primary active components in this plant is gymnemic acid, which helps suppress sweetness (
When consumed prior to a sugary food or beverage, gymnemic acid blocks the sugar receptors on your taste buds
Research shows that Gymnema sylvestre extracts can reduce the ability to taste sweetness and thus make sweet foods less appealing
In a study in fasted individuals, half were given Gymnema extract. Those who received the supplement had less appetite for sweet foods at a subsequent meal and were more likely to limit their food intake, compared to those not taking the extract .
2. Helps Lower Blood Sugar Levels
According to the World Health Organization, more than 420 million people worldwide have diabetes, and this number is expected to increase
Diabetes is a metabolic disease characterized by high blood sugar levels. It’s caused by the inability of your body to produce or use insulin effectively.
As a supplement, it has been used in combination with other diabetes medications to lower blood sugar. It’s also called gurmar, which is Hindi for “destroyer of sugar”
Similar to its effects on your taste buds, Gymnema sylvestre can also block receptors in your intestines and thus sugar absorption, lowering your post-meal blood sugar levels.
Scientific proof of Gymnema ability to lower blood sugar is insufficient to recommend it as a stand-alone diabetes medication. However, research shows strong potential.
Studies suggest that consuming 200–400 mg of gymnemic acid reduces the intestinal absorption of the sugar glucose
In one study, Gymnema appeared to improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels
The study concluded that reducing blood sugar after a meal resulted in a decrease in average blood sugar levels over time. This could help decrease long-term complications of diabetes
For people with high blood sugar or a high HbA1c, 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 doctor first.
3. May Contribute to Favorable Insulin Levels by Increasing Insulin Production
Gymnema ole in insulin secretion and cell regeneration may also contribute to its blood-sugar-lowering capabilities.
Higher insulin levels mean that sugar is cleared from your blood at a faster rate.
If you have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, your body tends to not make enough insulin, or your cells become less sensitive to it over time. This results in consistently high blood sugar levels.
Gymnema sylvestre may stimulate insulin production in your pancreas, promoting the regeneration of insulin-producing islet cells. This can help lower your blood sugar levels
Many traditional drugs help increase insulin secretion and sensitivity. However, herbal therapies are gaining momentum in drug development.
Interestingly, metformin, the first anti-diabetic drug, was an herbal formulation isolated from Galega officinalis
4. Improves Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels, Reducing Heart Disease Risk
Gymnema sylvestre may help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides.
While Gymnema gets its fame from lowering blood sugar levels and reducing sugar cravings, research shows that it may also influence fat absorption and lipid levels.
In one study in rats on a high-fat diet, Gymnema extract aided weight maintenance and suppressed the accumulation of liver fats. Also, animals fed the extract and a normal-fat diet experienced lower triglyceride levels
Another study found that Gymnema extract had an anti-obesity effect on animals fed a high-fat diet. It also decreased blood fat and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels
In addition, a study in moderately-obese people showed that Gymnema extract decreased triglycerides and bad “LDL” cholesterol by 20.2% and 19%, respectively. What’s more, it increased “good” HDL cholesterol levels by 22% (11Trusted Source).
High levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides are risk factors for heart disease.
Therefore, the positive effects of Gymnema sylvestre on LDL and triglycerides levels may contribute to a lower risk of heart conditions (
5. May Aid Weight Loss
Gymnema sylvestre extracts have been shown to aid weight loss in animals and humans.
One three-week study showed reduced body weight in rats given a water extract of Gymnema sylvestre. In another study, rats on a high-fat diet that were fed a Gymnema extract gained less weight (
What’s more, a study in 60 moderately-obese people taking a Gymnema extract found a 5–6% decrease in body weight, as well as reduced food intake
By blocking sweet receptors on your taste buds, Gymnema sylvestre may cause you to eat fewer sweet foods and consume fewer calories.
6. Helps Reduce Inflammation Due to Its Tannin and Saponin Content
Inflammation plays an important role in your body’s healing process.
Some inflammation is good, such as when it helps protect your body from harmful organisms in cases of injury or infection.
Other times, inflammation may be caused by the environment or the foods you eat.
However, chronic low-grade inflammation can contribute to various health issues
Studies have confirmed the link between excessive sugar intake and increased inflammatory markers in animals and humans
The ability of Gymnema sylvestre to reduce sugar absorption in your intestines may also allow it to decrease inflammation caused by excess sugar intake.
What’s more, Gymnema appears to have anti-inflammatory properties of its own. This is thought to be due to its content of tannins and saponins, which are beneficial plant compounds.
Gymnema sylvestre leaves are considered immunostimulatory, meaning they can regulate the immune system, reducing inflammation
People with diabetes not only suffer from high blood sugar and insulin resistance but may also have decreased antioxidant levels, which can contribute to inflammation
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, Gymnema sylvestre can help those with diabetes and high blood sugar in a variety of ways, including by fighting inflammation.