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.
Using the blood sugar controlling herb gymnema sylvestre for diabetes may help as a natural treatment.
It’s also possible that taking gymnema regularly, with its active ingredient gymnemic acid, may even assist in preventing those at risk from becoming diabetic in the first place.
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.’
5 More Health Benefits of Gymnema Sylvestre
Aside from its potential as a diabetes treatment and blood sugar regulator, gymnema capsules and tea 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.
Gymnema Sylvestre Diabetes Treatment and Dosage
Research on gymnema sylvestre 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.
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 gymnema sylvestre is available and better value in bulk, like this organic gymnema tea I use.
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.
It’s best to have a cup of gymnema tea before any meal that has a lot of simple carbohydrates like bread or rice. Especially when you eat anything high in sugar, like pastries, confectionary or 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 up a 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.
Gymnema is much more effective as an additional aid combined with other effective weight loss strategies. Though it will definitely help with the occasional ‘cheat meal’.
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