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Gymnema – (Gymnema sylvestre)

Gymnema

Gymnema is a climbing woody plant native to India. It is known as the "destroyer of sugar" because it blocks the perception of sweetness by the tastebuds. This plant grows quite large, climbing on other trees and shrubs. Roots grow from the leaf nodes, allowing it to cling to other plants. It is part of the milkweed family.

 

Key Medicinal Uses

Internally – Gymnema lowers blood sugar gradually, unlike many prescription drugs that are currently used for diabetes. It raises insulin levels to a normal amount, reducing the need for prescription insulin. For diabetics who do not need to take insulin, it allows them to reduce or eliminate the need for their prescription drugs. The leaves also lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It also blocks the sweet tastebuds in people.

This herb has also been used for constipation, water retention, liver disease and stomach complaints. It can be used to treat fever. It is also used to regulate weight and sugar cravings. Other traditional uses for this herb include antimicrobial treatments, an aphrodisiac, a treatment for cancer, to help cardiovascular disease, to relieve coughs, to stimulate the digestion, as a laxative, as a liver tonic, for gout, high blood pressure, malaria and rheumatoid arthritis. It has also been used to stimulate the uterus.

Externally – Gymnema is used to treat snakebite by applying a paste of the powdered herb on the wound. It can also be applied externally to treat swollen glands.

Parts Used

Leaves – The leaves are used medicinally.

Cautions

Following recommended doses of gymnema has proven to be safe and effective with no known side effects. If you are diabetic, only use under the supervision of a professional. Blood sugar levels should be monitored regularly so other medications can be adjusted as the gymnema begins to work.

It is not known if this herb is safe during pregnancy, although since one of its traditional uses was to stimulate the uterus, it may be best avoided in pregnancy.

Gymnema may interact with glyburide, insulin and glipizide. Some of the effects of the herbal remedy may be enhanced by antidepressants, aspirin and tetracycline. The effects of this herb may be decreased by contraceptives, thyroid hormones, epinephrine and marijuana.

Preparation and Dosage

The standard dose for gymnema in India is 400 mg per day. To help type 2 diabetes, the herb needs to be taken long-term. Studies show that when diabetic patients have taken this herb for 18 to 20 months their blood sugar levels were normalized. A preliminary study in the United States showed promising results using a dose of 800 mg per day.

Gymnema Herbal Remedies Top