Gymnema sylvestre is an herb used in Ayurvedic medicine. With a long history of medicinal use, it has potent anti-diabetic properties, and can be used to promote weight loss and manage obesity in the form of gymnema tea or supplements.
Native to central and Western India, tropical Africa, and Australia, gymnema sylvestre (also known as asclepiadaceae), is a slow-growing perennial plant.
Its active compound is a group of compounds known as gymnemic acids, which make the plant useful in the treatment of diabetes, obesity, and even asthma. It is also used in homeopathic medicine to treat eye pain, inflammation and snakebite.
Gymnema Sylvestre And Diabetes
Gymnema sylvestre has been tested in lab and animal models and found to be effective in controlling the blood sugar levels of diabetic mice(1). Interestingly, it is equally effective for type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Anecdotally, the plant has a long history of being used to treat diabetes, predating some of the oldest writings on the subject.
Some diabetics have found that consuming the gynmemic acids found in the plant, either in the form of tea or as supplements, has helped them better stabilize their blood sugar levels. The plant is also associated with weight loss, which has many benefits for diabetic patients as obesity is a major contributing factor for diabetes(2).
How It Works
There are three main ways that gymnema sylvestre helps combat diabetes. First, the herb inhibits the body’s natural ability to absorb sugar. Secondly, it reduces the amount of lipids in the body – lipids are often unusually high in diabetics, and can lead to insulin resistance and elevated cholesterol levels. Finally, gymnema sylvestre causes the pancreas to produce more insulin, which helps turn glucose into energy, reducing blood glucose levels.
Because diabetes is an illness caused by excessively high blood glucose and an inability to convert sugar into energy, an herb that functions the way gymnema sylvestre does is great for diabetes.
While gymnema sylvestre is generally considered to be safe, it does have some potential negative side effects. If you are taking certain medications(3), it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor before you begin taking gymnema supplements or tea.
One possible side effect is low blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia. It can also cause you to lose your sense of taste for sweetness – a side effect that has made it popular among people looking to control their sweet tooth.
It’s also recommended to avoid taking gymnema sylvestre on an empty stomach; taking it with a snack or meal can help mitigate some of the potential side effects.