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 for gymnema means “destroyer of sugar.”
People use gymnema for diabetes, weight loss, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
Gymnema sylvestre is regarded as one of the plants with potent anti diabetic properties. This plant is also used for controlling obesity in the form of Gymnema tea. The active compound of the plant is a group of acids termed as gymnemic acids. It has been observed that there could be a possible link between obesity, Gymnemic acids and diabetes. This review will try to put forth an overall idea about the plant as well as present a molecular perspective linking the common medicine to the most common metabolic disorders.
What Is Gymnema Sylvestre and Can It Kill Sugar Cravings?
Gymnemic acid binds to the taste receptors on your tongue that perceive sweetness. As a result, it makes sweet things taste a lot less sweet
If you have a sweet tooth or find it difficult to keep yourself from overeating sweet foods, here’s something that could be useful.
Sweet Defeat is a product that claims to lessen your desire—and therefore your consumption—of sweets. Does it work? I reviewed the science behind this interesting product and also put it to the test—and I have a full report for you.
The active ingredient in Sweet Defeat is an herb called gymnema silvestre. It’s been used for centuries in traditional medicine as a treatment for diabetes. In fact, the Hindi name for this herb translates to “destroyer of sugar.”
Modern pharmacological research seems to support this traditional wisdom. Compounds extracted from gymnema have been shown to reduce the absorption of sugar from the intestinal tract and boost insulin production, all of which could help lower blood sugar. Animal testing confirms that gymnema reduces blood glucose levels.
Lab rats given gymnema extract also eat less and lose weight. As a result, you’ll also find lots of weight loss supplements containing gymnema. Unfortunately, the research on humans is all but non-existent. And, as we know all too well, what works for lab rats does not always work for humans. I wouldn’t waste your money on gymnema-based supplements for weight loss.
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.
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 (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).
When consumed prior to a sugary food or beverage, gymnemic acid blocks the sugar receptors on your taste buds (1Trusted Source).
Research shows that Gymnema sylvestre extracts can reduce the ability to taste sweetness and thus make sweet foods less appealing (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).
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 (2Trusted Source).
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 (3Trusted Source).
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.
Gymnema sylvestre is considered to have anti-diabetic properties.
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” (4Trusted Source).
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 (4Trusted Source).
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 role 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 (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).
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 (8Trusted Source).
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 (9Trusted Source).
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 (10Trusted Source).
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 (6Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).
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 (10Trusted Source, 12).
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 (11Trusted Source).
By blocking sweet receptors on your taste buds, Gymnema sylvestre may cause you to eat fewer sweet foods and consume fewer calories.
A consistent calorie deficit can result in weight loss.
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 (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
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 (8Trusted Source).
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 (6Trusted Source).
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.
Dosage, Safety and Side Effects
Gymnema sylvestre is traditionally consumed as a tea or by chewing its leaves.
In Western medicine, it’s typically taken in pill or tablet form, making it easier to control and monitor dosage. It can also be ingested in extract or leaf powder form.
If you’re looking to use Gymnema sylvestre as a way to block the sugar receptors on your tongue, take a supplement with water 5–10 minutes before a high-sugar meal or snack.
Gymnema sylvestre is considered safe for most people, but it should not be taken by children or women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to get pregnant.
Moreover, though it appears to improve blood sugar and insulin levels, it’s not a substitute for diabetes medication. Only take Gymnema with other blood-sugar-lowering medications under your doctor’s supervision (8Trusted Source, 21, 22Trusted Source).
Possible Side Effects
While its effects on blood sugar are rather positive, combining Gymnema sylvestre with other blood-sugar-lowering medications can cause an unsafe drop in your blood sugar levels (22Trusted Source).
This can cause side effects, such as headache, nausea, lightheartedness, shakiness and dizziness.
Gymnema sylvestre supplements should not be taken at the same time as blood-sugar-lowering medications, including insulin injections. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the best timing for taking this supplement (21).
Additionally, the supplement should not be taken with aspirin or the herb St. John’s Wort, as this may increase Gymnema’s blood-sugar-lowering effects.
Lastly, those with milkweed allergies may also experience unpleasant side effects.
Always talk to your doctor before taking any herbal supplements.
Gymnema sylvestre may help you fight sugar cravings and lower high blood sugar levels.
The plant may also play a beneficial role in diabetes treatment, as it may help stimulate insulin secretion and the regeneration of pancreas islet cells — both of which can help lower blood sugar.
In addition, Gymnema may fight inflammation, aid weight loss and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Though it’s safe for most, talk to your doctor first, particularly if you intend to take the supplement in combination with other medications.
All in all, if sugar is one of your vices, you could try a cup of Gymnema sylvestre tea to help you reduce your intake.
The Health Benefits of Gymnema Sylvestre
Gymnema (Gymnema sylvestre) is a plant in the Apocynaceae family, well known in Ayurvedic medicine for its medicinal purposes. The plant is a perennial woody vine that is found in tropical regions of India, Africa, and Australia. Gymnema is a climbing plant with elongated, oval leaves that have soft hairs on the top surface. The plant has small, yellow flowers that are produced throughout the year.
The Hindi term for G. sylvestre is gurmar, which is translated as sugar destroyer. This is because Gymnema sylvestre leaves contain gymnemic acids, which are major bioactive ingredients that act to suppress the taste of sugar,1 by interacting with taste receptors on the tongue. This suppression of sugar taste is temporary, and it has been found to be useful in treating diabetes, particularly in Ayurvedic practice.
Another reason that G. sylvestre is considered a sugar destroyer is because it is thought to inhibit sugar absorption in the body, thus, the plant has appeared in many research studies, evaluating its effectiveness for the treatment of weight loss and diabetes in Western medicine as well as in India.
Other names for gymnema include Australian cowplant and periploca of the woods.
Gymnema sylvestre is said to lower sugar cravings,2 while reducing the rate at which sugar is absorbed into the body,3 potentially providing a two-fold action to combat weight gain and diabetes.
Diabetes is a common disorder caused by the body’s inability to utilize (or produce) insulin properly. Lack of insulin—or lack of insulin’s efficiency—results in high blood sugar; this is because insulin is a hormone that is responsible for moving the glucose (blood sugar) from the blood, into the cell, to be used for energy.
Many people take insulin or other blood sugar medication that helps the body more efficiently regulate glucose levels, but a natural plant supplement, like G. sylvestre may help. What does the research say?
Gymnema Sylvestre Dosage
How much Gymnema sylvestre you should take depends on the method of administration you choose. Each way of taking Gymnema offers different benefits.
Gymnema Sylvestre in Capsules
The advantage of Gymnema sylvestre capsules is that you can take the Gymnema leaf or extract in multiple daily doses. Take pills 10 minutes before a meal, with a full glass of water.
Gymnema Sylvestre in Tea
The traditional method of taking Gymnema sylvestre involves chewing the leaves or making them into a tea. If you want to block the taste of sugar, Gymnema tea works best, because the gurmarin peptide comes into contact with your tongue and binds to your sweetness receptors.
To make Gymnema sylvestre tea, you will need bagged or loose Gymnema leaves.
If you take other Gymnema supplements, don’t drink Gymnema tea, because you may accidentally take too much.
Perfect Keto Blood Sugar Support Capsules
Along with Gymnema sylvestre, other natural supplements can improve insulin response, reduce blood sugar, and help your body handle carbs better. Some people combine Gymnema with St. John’s Wort or other herbs to get more benefits.
Perfect Keto offers Blood Sugar Support capsules designed to reduce cravings, lower food intake, increase weight loss, and make the transition to a keto diet easier.
Four capsules of Perfect Keto Blood Sugar Support formula contain 1000 milligrams of Gymnema sylvestre along with biotin, chromium pollinate, bitter melon extract, cinnamon, berberine, banana leaf extract.
If you’re on the keto diet, start by taking 1-2 Blood Sugar Support pills 10 minutes before meals with a full glass of water. You can use higher doses if you eat a high-crab meal.