Gymnema Sylvestre Benefits for Weight Loss and Blood Sugar Control
Science, medicine and politics are all failing to come to grips with the ever rising number of people with diabetes in America and around the world.
Using the herb gymnema sylvestre may help as a natural treatment for elevated blood sugar, though it’s important to discuss this with your doctor first.
Taking gymnema regularly, with its active ingredient gymnemic acid, could assist in preventing those at risk from becoming diabetic as well.
This herb is also an effective way to control sugar cravings, block glucose absorption and help you lose weight by having less simple carbohydrate calories in your diet.
The Blood Sugar Control Herb
Gymnema sylvestre is a woody vine native to tropical and subtropical regions of 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 beneficial properties for treating elevated blood sugar that can lead to type 2 diabetes.
One of the primary active ingredients in it 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 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 glucose absorption in the intestine, resulting in lower blood sugar levels after a meal. This effect helps weight loss 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: ‘…supplementation appears to improve glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes. Reducing postprandial blood glucose significantly caused a decrease of HbA1c (average blood glucose), therefore reducing complications…’
5 More Benefits of Gymnema Sylvestre
Aside from its potential as a blood sugar regulator, gymnema tea and capsules have been shown to be beneficial for several other 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 in either capsule or as gymnema tea, has been shown to assist in losing weight.
- 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. The herb 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.
- A mild diuretic and may help with water retention. This is yet another way gymnema sylvestre can help with weight loss.
Dosage and Best Time to Take
Research on gymnema has generally been done with 500 mg capsules standardized to contain at least 25% gymnemic acid. However more potent versions like these are now available which are much stronger at 75% gymnemic acid.
They should be taken 5 to 10 minutes before a meal high in carbohydrates or sugary snack with a large glass of water up to 3 times a day.
Another good option is to use a combination gymnemic acid supplement like these highly rated Glucose Optimizer capsules, which also contain blood sugar stabilizing resveratrol, chromium, banaba and bitter melon extract.
Supplements or 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 use this herbal remedy for weight loss and lower blood sugar.
It makes sense that by drinking it 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 dried gymnema sylvestre is available and is much better value in bulk, like this organic tea I use.
How to Make Gymnema Tea
- To make up the tea simply add a heaped teaspoon to a French press or tea strainer in a large cup.
- Other tea can also be added, like green tea which has its own beneficial properties for weight loss.
- Pour in boiling water, cover and let the herb strain for at least 5 minutes, preferably 10 minutes for best results.
- When cool enough to drink, sip slowly without milk, sugar, honey or sweeteners of any kind.
It’s recommended to have a cup of gymnema tea around 5 minutes before any meal that has a lot of simple carbohydrates, like bread, pasta or rice.
It’s especially helpful to drink right before you eat anything high in refined sugar, like pastries, confectionery, ice-cream or other desserts.
It’s not necessary to drink the tea before a meal that’s based on vegetables and healthy protein as eating this way naturally keeps your blood sugar in check and is beneficial for losing weight.
You can make gymnema sylvestre tea up to 3 times a day if you like, but keep in mind it’s not a free pass to have more fattening sugary foods.
This natural remedy is much more effective as an additional aid combined with other effective weight loss strategies, like internal cleansing with triphala. Though it will definitely help with the occasional ‘cheat meal’.
Potential Side Effects
- While there are no commonly listed side effects of gymnema sylvestre, it has been reported to sometimes work too well at lowering blood sugar. It’s important to keep within the suggested doses, whether you’re using the supplements or the tea.
- People currently being treated for conditions related to blood sugar should consult a doctor before using gymnema sylvestre. Also avoid taking it near 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 tea are 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 for weight loss before? Or used it to control sugar cravings and regulate your blood sugar levels? I’d appreciate hearing your experiences with this potent herbal treatment.
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Photo 1 credit: Adityamadhav83
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