Gymnema is a medicinal herb that has long been used in India to treat many health problems. The University of Michigan Health System reports that gymnema may help treat Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, constipation, liver disease, water retention and gastric problems. High quality gymnema extracts are usually available in health food stores. Before taking gymnema to treat your ailments, visit your physician to discuss all aspects of this medicinal herb.
Gymnema sylvestre is a woody climbing plant that is indigenous to the tropical forests of India. The leaves of the gynema plant are used in herbal preparations. The principal bioactive components of this herbal remedy are a group of saponins called gymnemic acids. Gymnemic acids possess anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory properties. Other significant constituents include parabin, glucose and carbohydrates. This herb may be taken in liquid extract or capsule form, although preparations from whole leaf tea may be most effective.
According to Dr. Sharol Tilgner, a master herbalist, naturopathic doctor and author of "Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth," gymnema may be responsible for several important health-related actions. Gymnema has hypoglycemic action, which means that it helps lower elevated blood sugar levels. This may be especially important in diabetics. Gymnema also helps reduce the amount of lipids in your bloodstream and possesses anti-atherosclerotic action. Gymnema's anti-atherosclerotic action helps keep plaque from forming on the walls of your arteries.
Gymnema has several important uses. Dr. Michael Murray, a naturopathic physician, botanical medicine expert and author of "The Healing Power of Herbs," notes that gymnema is one of the most practical herbal recommendations for improving blood sugar regulation in diabetics. Gymnemic acids help desensitize your taste buds to sweet tasting foods when they are placed directly on your tongue, which may help diabetics and others consume fewer calories. Research suggests that gymnema is one of the few herbs that may enhance your body's production of the hormone insulin.
Gymnema, while helpful for some individuals, should not be taken by everybody. Gymnema should not be used if you have hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels. You should always visit your doctor before taking herbal remedies to treat your health complaints. A qualified health care professional can provide you with relevant and helpful information about your condition and the treatments from which you may benefit most. Pregnant women should always use extra caution when taking herbal medicine.
- University of Michigan Health System: Gymnema
- "Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth"; Sharol Tilgner, N.D.; 1999
- "The Healing Power of Herbs"; Michael T. Murray, N.D.; 1995