Gymnema Sylvestre for Diabetes and Other Health Benefits
Science, medicine and politics are all failing to come to grips with the ever rising number of diabetics in America. But using the blood sugar controlling herb gymnema sylvestre for diabetes may help with its treatment.
It’s possible taking gymnema, with its active ingredient gymnemic acid, may even assist in preventing those at risk from becoming diabetic in the first place.
Details on just how to use gymnema for diabetes ahead, but first let’s take a quick look at what’s being described as the number 1 health problem facing America today.
The Diabetes Health Crisis
Diabetes is a debilitating metabolic disease wherein the pancreas does not produce enough (or any) insulin to control blood sugar levels. The body cells can also not react properly to insulin for a similar effect of dangerous amounts of glucose in the blood.
Early symptoms of type 2 diabetes include a frequent need to urinate, dehydration and intense thirst, sudden weight loss, weakness and fatigue and blurred vision. If you experience any of these symptoms then visit your doctor as soon as possible for a simple diabetes blood test.
In the USA, the cost of treating diabetes has risen from $174 billion in 2007 to $245 billion in 2012 – a 40% increase in just five years. If this upward trend of new diabetes diagnosis continues, it’s estimated that a full half of all Americans will either be pre diabetic or diabetic by the year 2020.
The projected expense to the US health care system of these staggering figures is over $3.3 trillion by 2020. It’s very clear that the cost of treating diabetes is completely unsustainable and it has the potential to cripple the US health care system, if not society itself.
It’s vital to avoid eating too many sugary foods and processed grains if you want to avoid living with diabetes. These play havoc with your blood sugar levels and exhaust your pancreas’s ability to produce insulin.
A good start is having eggs for breakfast instead of high glycemic cereal and including more healthy fats in your diet like avocados. If you already have problems with high blood sugar then it’s worth considering gymnema sylvestre tea as a natural treatment.
Gymnema for Diabetes
Gymnema sylvestre is a herb native to Asia that has being used medicinally for thousands of years in India. It’s Hindi or Ayurvedic name Gurmar means ‘destroyer of sugar’ and it has some unusually beneficial properties for treating diabetes and elevated blood sugar.
One of the primary active ingredients in gymnema sylvestre is gymnemic acid. This unique compound is very similar structurally to glucose, but does not act like it within your body.
Instead, when consumed before ingesting sugary foods or drink, gymnemic acid molecules actually block the receptor locations for sugar on your taste buds. This stops sugar activating these receptors and can greatly curb sugar cravings.
Gymnemic acid can also block sugar absorption in the intestine and often results in lower blood sugar levels after a meal. This effect is also likely to assist in losing weight as simple sugars in the diet, not fats, are the primary cause of weight gain.
Even more promising, studies report that gymnemic acid increases the production of insulin, improves glucose utilization and may even help to regenerate islet beta cells within the pancreas which produce insulin.
Another study concluded: ‘Gymnema sylvestre supplementation appears to improve glucose control in patients with type II diabetes. Reducing postprandial blood glucose significantly caused a decrease of HbA1c (Average Blood Glucose), therefore reducing the complications of diabetes.’
Gymnema Sylvestre Diabetes Treatment and Dosage
Research on gymnema sylvestre is generally done with 500 mg capsules standardized to contain at least 25% gymnemic acid like these. They should be taken 5 to 10 minutes before a main meal with a large glass of water.
Another option is to use a time release gymnemic acid supplement like these Glucose Balance tablets, which were actually the gymnema sylvestre supplement used in the second blood sugar study mentioned above.
How to Make Gymnema Tea
While supplements do provide a standardized dose, many people like myself prefer natural products to get the full range of compounds in the herbal treatment.
Gymnema tea is the more traditional way to take gymnema sylvestre. It makes sense that by drinking the herb as a tea you’d give it a chance to block the sugar receptors on your tongue directly (some resources recommend sucking on tablets for a short time before swallowing them for a similar effect).
Loose leaf organic gymnema sylvestre tea is available and better value in bulk. To make up a cup, simply add a heaped teaspoon to a French press or tea strainer and add hot water. Other tea can also be added, like green tea which has its own beneficial properties for weight loss.
Other Health Benefits of Gymnema Sylvestre
Aside from its potential as a diabetes treatment, gymnema has been shown to be beneficial for several other health conditions:
- Improves cholesterol and reduces triglycerides in your blood. This study found taking gymnema sylvestre ‘improved serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels through influence over a wide range of lipid metabolism’.
- Treats obesity and an effective aid in a weight loss program. By blocking sugar absorption and decreasing appetite, a daily dose of gymnema sylvestre, in either capsule or as gymnema tea, has been shown to assist in losing weight.
- Gymnema sylvestre reduces inflammation. Research found the active ingredients in gymnema elevated beneficial liver enzymes and the body’s natural antioxidants to combat inflammatory free radicals.
- May help reduce the symptoms of arthritis and gout. Gymnema is a traditional treatment for these joint problems and many patients report success with taking it as a preventative before their their arthritis usually flares up.
- The herb is a mild diuretic and may help with water retention. This is yet another way gymnema can help with weight loss.
Potential Gymnema Side Effects for Diabetics
- While gymnema is considered safe for most people and there are no commonly listed side effects of gymnema sylvestre, it has been reported to sometimes work too well and lower blood sugar a bit too far. It’s especially recommended for diabetics to keep within the suggested doses, whether you’re using the supplements or the tea.
- People currently taking diabetes medication should consult a doctor before using gymnema sylvestre and avoid taking it right at the same time as prescription drugs or when administering insulin injections. It may be that it reduces your need for such treatments, but this should be closely monitored by your physician if you are diabetic.
- Gymnema sylvestre capsules or gymnema tea also not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and those on antidepressant medication.
- Additionally it shouldn’t be taken at the same time as aspirin or the herb St. John’s wort as they may increase its blood sugar lowering effects.
Have you tried gymnema sylvestre as a diabetes treatment before or to control sugar cravings and regulate your blood sugar levels? I’d appreciate hearing your experiences with this unusual and powerful herb.
Photo 1 credit: Adityamadhav83