Name: Gymnema sylvestre
Names: Gurmarbooti, gurmar, periploca of the woods, meshasringi, Gymnema
The hypoglycemic (blood sugar-lowering) effect of gymnema leaves was first documented in the late 1920s. This action is gradual in nature, differing from the rapid effect of many prescription hypo-glycemic drugs.
Gymnema leaves raise insulin levels, according to research in healthy volunteers. The leaves are also noted for lowering serum cholesterol and triglycerides. While studies have shown that a water-soluble acidic fraction of the leaves provides hypoglycemic actions, it is not yet clear what specific constituent in the leaves is responsible for this action.
Some researchers have suggested gymnemic acid as one possible candidates Further research is needed to clearly determine which constituent is responsible for this effect. Gurmarin, another constituent of the leaves, and gymnemic acid have been shown to block sweet taste in humans.
Gymnema has been used in India for the treatment of diabetes for over 2,000 years. The primary application was for adult-onset diabetes (NIDDM), a condition for which it continues to be recommended today in India. The leaves were also used for stomach ailments, constipation, water retention, and liver disease.
Useful for the treatment of:
Gymnema sylvestre is a woody climbing plant that grows in the tropical forests of central and southern India. The leaves are used in herbal medicine preparations.
G. sylvestre is known as "periploca of the woods" in English and mesbasringi (meaning "ram's horn") in Sanskrit. The leaves, when chewed, interfere with the ability to taste sweetness, which explains the Hindi name gurmar-"destroyer of sugar."
Recent studies in India have used 400 mg per day of a water-soluble acidic fraction of the gymnema leaves. In adult-onset diabetics, ongoing use for periods as long as eighteen to twenty months has proven successful. In IDDM (juvenile onset) diabetic patients, a similar amount has been used as an adjunct to ongoing use of insulin. Traditionally, 2-4 grams of the leaf powder per day is used.
At the amounts suggested, gymnema is generally safe and devoid of side effects.
The safety of gymnema during pregnancy and lactation has not yet been determined. Persons with NIDDM should only use gymnema to lower blood sugar under the clinical supervision of a health professional.
Do not use Gymnema in place of insulin to control blood sugar by persons with IDDM or
NIDDM (Type 1 or 2 diabetes).
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