What is Gymnema Sylvestre?
Gymnema is a genus plant that belongs to apocynaceae family which has many species. Gymnema sylvestre is one of the species of gymnema genus. Gymnema is a common herb in India1.
Components of Gymnema
Gymnema is made up of the following components3:
It is the most active component found in the leaves of gymnema. Gymnemic acids are chemically grouped into the following triterpenoid saponins and its examples are gymnemosides A-F, gymnemic acids I-VII and gymnemasaponins.
Other components found in the gymnema leaves include alkaloids, anthraquinones and flavones. The leaves also have specific components such as tartaric acid, butyric acid, d-quercitol and formic acid.
Benefits of Gymnema Sylvestre
The following are the uses or health benefits of gymnema sylvestre1, 2, 4, 6, 7:
Diabetes is a condition where you have high sugar levels in the body and low levels of insulin. Gymnema sylvestre can treat both types 1 and 2 diabetes. Diabetes treatment focuses on two things: regulating the amount of sugar in the body and preventing possible complications that may arise due to this condition.
Treatment for diabetes mostly includes changes in lifestyle and certain medications. People who have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes are mostly treated with injection of insulin. Certain medication may also be used to regulate blood sugar level in the body and complications of diabetes.
Another treatment method that may be recommended is a healthy diet. Your doctor would recommend a nutritionist or dietician to assist you in coming up with a healthy diet so as to manage diabetes.
Your doctor may also suggest exercise to help in managing diabetes and other conditions such as heart attack or cardiovascular diseases. You can do simple exercises at home such as walking and running. For more intense exercises, you may visit a physical therapist who will guide you which exercises to do. To achieve the best from exercises, come up with an exercise plan and follow it consistently.
Apart from the above treatment options, natural treatment can also be used in curing diabetes. One such natural treatment is gymnema sylvestre. Gymnema sylvestre has the ability to raise the secretion of insulin in your body which in turn lowers blood sugar hence managing diabetes. It also has gymnemic acid which is able to block sugar from being absorbed in the intestines thus lowering sugar level.
Taking gymnema sylvestre can help you maintain a healthy weight. One of the components of gymnema sylvestre gymnemic acid is able to prevent sugar from being absorbed in the intestines. This lowers sugar in the blood can also help in reducing weight since there will be no sugar or fat which are responsible for weight gain. Gymnema sylvestre also helps your body to retain water which in turn may reduce weight.
Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of conditions that work together and can elevate your risk of stroke and heart diseases. These conditions include high cholesterol level, high blood pressure, high sugar level, too much fat in the waist, etc.
You can have either one or many of these conditions. People with only one these condition do not imply they have metabolic syndrome but they are at risk of serious health problems. Those who have more than one of these conditions are at greater risk of more serious health complications.7
Metabolic syndrome has no known causes but it is believed that it is as result of the following:
- Overweight: Obese people are at higher risk of high blood pressure and too much sugar in the body.
- Lack of exercise: People who do not exercise are unhealthy and are vulnerable to most of the condition of metabolic syndrome. Lack of exercise may lead to accumulation of fats and cholesterol in your body which can cause high blood pressure and other health problems.
- Insulin resistance: Metabolic syndrome is closely linked to insulin resistance. Usually, the digestive tract breaks down food we eat into glucose or sugar. Pancreas produces insulin hormone which ensures that sugar is absorbed into the cells to be used as energy.
In people with insulin resistance, their cells may have difficulties in responding to insulin thus glucose may not enter the cells easily. This makes the level of glucose in the body to rise despite the attempt of the body to secrete insulin.
Treatment for metabolic syndrome have included changes in lifestyle such as exercising regularly, eating food les fat, limiting the amount of sugar and salt. Medications have also been used to cure symptoms of most of the metabolic syndrome symptoms.
In addition to these treatment options, gymnema sylvestre can also help cure metabolic syndrome. Gymnema sylvestre facilitates metabolism of various lipids in the body which lowers the level of triglycerides and cholesterol in your blood. As a result, this can help prevent cardiovascular diseases which come as a result of high triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood.
In addition gymnema sylvestre sugar and prevent sugar receptors from being absorbed in the intestines. This reduces sugar levels in the body and lowers weight.
Other health benefits of gymnema sylvestre include:
- It is used to lessen inflammation. Gymnema sylvestre has antioxidant properties to deal with inflammatory cells in the body.
- It is also used in treatment of arthritis and gouts disease. In these conditions gymnema sylvestre is used as an early preventive measure before the symptoms flare up.
Side Effects of Gymnema Sylvestre
Gymnema sylvestre is considered safe for many people and there are no side effects reported. However, gymnema sylvestre can cause complications in the following circumstances:
- When you are pregnant or breastfeeding a baby, you should consult your doctor before using gymnema sylvestre.
- When you are using diabetic medications, you need to talk to your doctor first before using gymnema sylvestre. Also you should not use gymnema sylvestre at the same time you are having an insulin injection or other drugs. This is because gymnema sylvestre may lower the need of those treatments but when you are diabetic, you should be closely monitored by a health professional.
- Avoid taking gymnema sylvestre at the same time with aspirin. This is because this drug can increase its sugar reducing effects and make it lower sugar levels to undesirable levels.
- Gymnema may cause addictive effects with herbs and diet supplements that are used to lower weight such as garcinia and chromium.1,8
Adults who are above 18 years should take 200 milligrams of gymnema sylvestre extract thrice each day according to studies conducted so far. For capsule, adults weighing more than 100 pounds should take two 250 milligrams of the capsule two times daily at mealtimes. For adults who weigh less 100 pounds, they should take one 250 milligrams two times each day at mealtimes.
There is no sufficient scientific research to recommend use of gymnema in children less than 18 years old.6
How to Prepare Gymnema Tea?
Gymnema tea is a conventional way of obtaining gymnema sylvestre. By drinking the herb as tea, you give it a chance to prevent sugar receptors directly on your tongue.
To prepare a cup of gymnema, add a heaped teaspoon to tea strainer or French press, and then add hot water. You can also add other tea like green tea which is good in reducing weight.
Even if you are using gymnema sylvestre already or you have not used it yet, please consult a health professional because this herb may not guarantee that your health goal is achieved.1
- Gymnema Sylvestre. http://www.e-natural.org/gymnema-sylvestre-sugar-destroyer/
- Metabolic Syndrome http://www.webmd.com/heart/metabolic-syndrome/metabolic-syndrome-are-you-at-risk
- Gymnema Sylvestre http://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/gymnema-future-treatment#overview1