Gymnema sylvestre is a herb found in the tropical forests of southern and central India. It is being used to treat diabetes for nearly two thousand years. It works great for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The Hindi name of this herb is Gur-mar which literally means sugar destroyer.
The Sanskrit name Meshasringa means 'ram's horn', a name derived from the shape of its fruits. The Latin word gymnema is derived from the other Latin word, meaning 'naked' and sylvestre means 'from the forest'.
Gymnema Sylvestre Benefits
According to The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), gymnema sylvestre can be helpful in controlling blood sugar levels in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, when used in conjunction with insulin and other prescribed medications.
- Gymnema extract curbs sweet tooth and is used to treat hyperglycemia, obesity, high cholesterol levels, osteoporosis, anemia and digestive problems.
- These days, the herb is present natural weight-loss products, often with chromium and cambogia gordonii together, as it helps lose weight.
- Gymnema leaves promote regeneration of the insulin-secreting cells in the pancreas and help increase insulin levels. They also prevent adrenaline from stimulating the liver to produce glucose.
- The herb, when used for an extended period, helps lower blood sugar levels of the people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. It helps lower triglycerides levels too.
- Many natural medicines for diabetes contain the herb along with other ingredients such as cinnamon, chromium, zinc, biotin, banaba plant, huckleberry and bitter melon.
- It reduces the taste of sugar when placed in mouth and after chewing, the effect can last for two hours. Thus, it helps fight sugar cravings. Gymnemic acid from gymnema leaves extract exhibits anti sweet activity.
- The herb when taken with a high-carbohydrate meal or with a meal high in sugar, passes through sugars and makes carbs available for burning and prevents them from turning into fat stores. Thus, you can achieve the goal of building lean muscle mass with the help of gymnema sylvestre.
While it is still being studied and the adverse effects of gymnema are not yet entirely known, it is necessary that people with blood sugar issues consult their doctors before adding this herb to their diet. Remember, the mechanism of the diabetic syndrome varies from patient to patient and the effects of a medicine or supplement may also vary accordingly.
Short term use and low doses of gymnema may have unnoticeable side effects. A study report says that the herb may raise systolic blood pressure. If blood sugar levels fall too low because of the herb, side effects like shakiness, sweating, confusion, distorted speech and loss of muscle control may be noticed. This happens rarely.
Be careful while taking gymnema along with other pharmaceutical medication (oral hypoglycemics or insulin) for diabetes, as the combination can lower blood sugar levels to potentially risky levels. Excessive hunger, blurred vision, mental confusion, increased anxiety, rapid heartbeats (palpitations) and body tremors indicate a significant drop in blood sugar levels.
Hypoglycemia or very low blood sugar levels may cause seizures or loss of consciousness. If you are already taking diabetes medication, consultation with your physician before supplementing with gymnema is essential. Your doctor may need to lower the dosage of the pharmaceutical medication you are on.
According to the medical records, a patient suffered from drug-induced liver injury when he was treated with gymnema for diabetes mellitus. More studies are needed to prove whether gymnema can cause life-threatening side effects. In general, you should always ask your doctor before beginning any new health medicine, if you are diabetic or prone to issues involving blood sugar.
Gymnema sylvestre extract side effects are the same as discussed above. The extract is used to treat diabetes, malaria, cough, weight loss and metabolic syndrome. It is used as a snakebite antidote, digestive stimulant, laxative, appetite suppressant and diuretic. Overdose may sometimes result in lack of appetite and diarrhea.
Not much information is available on gymnema sylvestre side effects on pregnant or lactating women and infants. Therefore, the herb should be administered very cautiously in these circumstances. Side effects of gymnema can be troublesome; if you are about to undergo a surgery (because it interferes with blood sugar). So, you should stop using it at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
You should take gymnema with food. If you take it on an empty stomach, it may induce mild gastrointestinal upset. The herb has been deemed very safe for adults at 'recommended' doses. If you have allergy to the milkweed family, you might experience allergic reactions to gymnema sylvestre. The herb is a magic herb, a gift of nature; but more research is necessary to find out its side effects.