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What is gymnema? Wh is it used for?
Gymnema is a woody, climbing plant that grows in the rainforests
of central and southern India. Its name, in Hindi, is gurmar,
which means "destroyer of sugar." It earned such
a name because of the plants leaves, which, when chewed,
interfere with the bodys ability to taste sweet things.
Gymnema leaves have been shown to lower blood sugar levels
and raise insulin levels. The leaves are also known for their
ability to lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels,
but the ingredients responsible for these actions have yet
to be clearly identified.
In India, gymnema has been used as a treatment for insulin-
and non-insulin dependent diabetes for more than 2,000 years
(and is still in use today). The leaves were also used for
stomach ailments, constipation, liver disease and water retention.
How much gymnema should I take?
Traditionally, 2-4 grams of powdered gymnema leaf are recommended
for diabetic conditions. However, gymnema should never be
used in place of insulin as a means of controlling blood sugar
levels. Make sure to consult with a qualified health care
practitioner before taking gymnema supplements.
What forms of gymnema are available?
Powdered gymnema leaves and extracts are readily available
at many health food and specialty stores.
What can happen if I don't get enough
gymnema? What can happen if I take too much? Are there any
side-effects I should be aware of?
When taken at the recommended amounts, gymnema is generally
considered safe and devoid of side-effects. However, the safety
of gymnema has yet to be proven during pregnancy and/or lactation,
so it should be avoided under these conditions. Patients with
diabetes should consult with a health care provider before
taking gymnema supplements.
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- Baskaran K, Ahmath BK, Shanmugasundaram
KR, Shanmugasundaram ERB. Antidiabetic effect of a leaf
extract from gymnema sylvestre in non-insulin-dependent
diabetes mellitus patients. J Ethnopharmacol 1990;30:295305.
- Bishayee A, Chatterjee M. Hypolipidemic
and antiatherosclerotic effects of oral gymnema sylvestre
R. Br. leaf extract in albino rats fed on a high fat
diet. Phytother Res 1994;8:11820.
- Fushiki T, Kojima A, Imoto T, et al. An
extract of gymnema sylvestre leaves and purified
gymnemic acid inhibits glucose-stimulated gastric inhibitory
peptide secretion in rats. J Nutr 1992;122:236773.
- Shanmugasundaram ERB, Leela Gopinath K,
Radha Shanmugasundaram K, Rajendran VM. Possible regeneration
of the islets of Langerhans in streptozotocin diabetic rats
given gymnema sylvestre leaf extracts. J Ethnopharmacol
- Ye W, Liu X, Zhang Q, et al. Antisweet
saponins from gymnema sylvestre. J Nat Prod