Gymnema for Diabetes Type 2

July 16, 2023 5 mins to read
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One of the more popular herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine for helping to support healthy blood sugar levels is Gymnema Sylvestre aka “The Destroyer of Sugar”. It’s a woody climbing shrub native to the tropical forests of India, Africa, and Australia. Recent research has shown Gymnema has several potential benefits for those at risk of or suffering with Diabetes.

Gymnema History (Expanded)

Gymnema sylvestre, a woody vine native to the lush tropical forests of India, Africa, and Australia, has been a cornerstone of Ayurvedic medicine for over 2 mellenia (2000 years). In Hindi it’s called “Gurmar” or in sanskrit “sugar destroyer”. Gymnema’s profound effects on managing blood sugar levels have earned it research and recognition in traditional medicine. Its leaf extract has been remarkably effective in controlling and managing blood sugar-related disorders, especially diabetes, making it a reliable, time-honored herbal remedy in the annals of Ayurvedic history.

Health Benefits of Gymnema

Ayurvedic medicine calls Gymnema Sylvestry the “Destroyer of Sugar”, highlighting it’s renowned use in managing sugar-related issues. Ayurvedic practitioners tout a variety of benefits, including: blood sugar regulation, weight management, digestive health, support of respiratory and cardiovascular systems, and to help with arthritis and urinary tract infections due to it’s anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. While not all of these are backed by science, research has shown it’s benefits particularly for blood sugar regulation and helping with Type 2 Diabetes.

Helps Control Blood Sugar

Studies show Gymnema Sylvestre may help lower blood sugar levels, due to substances in its leaves that can decrease the absorption of sugar from the intestine, and simultaneously increase the amount of insulin in the body to help shuttle that glucose into cells. [1][2]

Reduces Sugar Cravings

Have sugar cravings? What better way to reduce weight gain by reducing intake of sweets in the first place! Gymnema is known for its ability to block the sugar receptors on the tongue, thus potentially helping reduce your craving for sweet foods [3].

Supports Weight-Loss

Some research has shown Gymnema sylvestre can aid in weight-loss by helping to reduce body fat accumulation [4]. While more research is needed, the principle is simple…excess sugar in the blood gets stored in fat as glucagon, and if you can reduce sugar cravings, you’re likely going to consume less sugar in the first place. Which means healthier blood sugar levels, and consequently less fat storage.

Heart Health

Preliminary studies on animals suggests Gymnema Sylvestre may contribute to lowering high cholesterol levels and triglycerides, thus offering potential benefits for cardiovascular (heart) health [5].

Warning

Always Consult your healthcare provider or book a nutritional consultation with me, before starting any new supplement regimen, including using Gymnema. Because Gymnema lowers blood sugar levels, Diabetics who are already taking medications to lower blood sugar, should not use Gymnema without professional advice, as they could lower blood sugar levels too much and be put at risk for hypoglycemia, which could result in severe side effects or even death.

Suggested Use

*This is not medical advice

In Ayurveda, dosage and administration methods can vary based on the individual’s unique constitution (prakruti), current health state (vikruti), and specific health issues. Therefore, a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner should ideally determine the exact dosage and method of use. I am not an Ayurvedic practitioner, but the general guideline is as follows:

For adults, Gymnema sylvestre is often administered as a tea or a capsule supplement.

  • Tea: One common method is to steep the leaves in hot water to make a tea. This is typically done by boiling around 5-6g of the dried leaves in 2 cups of water until it reduces to about a cup. This tea can be consumed 1-2x daily.
  • Capsule: If taken in capsule form, the typical dosage might range from 100mg-500mg per day, but it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions (on the label).

Again, always consult with a healthcare provider or a trained Ayurvedic practitioner for personalized advice or book a nutritional consultation with me.

Side Effects

Although Gymnema Sylvestre is generally safe for most people when used appropriately, some potential side effects include:

  • Low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia), especially in people with diabetes who are also taking medication to lower blood sugar.
  • Possible liver damage if used in excess or for extended periods. Symptoms might include yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine, persistent nausea/vomiting, and abdominal pain.
  • Gastrointestinal upset, including nausea or diarrhea.

Contraindications

People with the following heal conditions/issues, should avoid Gymnema Sylvestre unless supervised by a healthcare provider:

  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: The safety of Gymnema Sylvestre during pregnancy and breastfeeding lacks adequate research. Avoiding herbs or supplements during pregnancy, unless thoroughly studied, is a golden rule in medicine.
  • Diabetes: Gymnema Sylvestre can affect (lower) blood sugar levels, making blood sugar control more difficult. People with diabetes should use this herb under the supervision of a healthcare provider.
  • Surgery: Because Gymnema Sylvestre can affect blood sugar levels, it may interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgical procedures. It’s recommended to stop using Gymnema Sylvestre at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.
  • Allergy: Individuals allergic to plants in the Apocynaceae (dogbane) family may also react to Gymnema, and it should in that case be avoided.

References

  1. Baskaran, K., et al. (1990). Antidiabetic effect of a leaf extract from Gymnema sylvestre in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus patients. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 30(3), 295-305.
  2. Shanmugasundaram, E. R., et al. (1990). Possible regeneration of the islets of Langerhans in streptozotocin-diabetic rats given Gymnema sylvestre leaf extracts. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 30(3), 265-279.
  3. Ota, A., & Ulrih, N. P. (2017). An Overview of Herbal Products and Secondary Metabolites Used for Management of Type Two Diabetes. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 8, 436.
  4. Preuss, H. G., et al. (2004). Efficacy of a novel calcium/potassium salt of (-)-hydroxycitric acid in weight control. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology Research, 24(2-3), 33-44.
  5. Shigematsu, N., et al. (2001). Effect of administration with the extract of Gymnema sylvestre R. Br leaves on lipid metabolism in rats. Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 24(6), 713-717.

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