Gymnema sylvestre: properties and contraindications

Gymnema sylvestre is a woody climbing shrub that belongs to the family Apocynaceae. It comes from the tropical forests of India, Africa and Australia. Its leaves are well known in the practice of Ayurveda medicine.. In fact, it is also known as gurmar, Hindi term that translates to 'sugar destroyer'.

And it is that, as detailed in a publication in Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, the plant has among its components gymnemic acids, known for their antidiabetic capacity. In addition, it lowers the risk of heart disease and helps maintain a healthy weight. Do you want to know more about its properties? Keep reading!

Properties of Gymnema sylvestre

Supplements based on Gymnema sylvestre they have become popular all over the world. Due to its composition, the plant has aroused interest in Western medicine; in fact, it has been the source of several investigations. Thus, although it is not considered a first-line treatment, its potential as an adjuvant against some health problems is recognized.

A study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology highlights that the plant contains chemical compounds of great therapeutic importance, such as stigmasterol and triterpenoid saponins. These, in particular, give it the following properties:

  • Antidiabetic.
  • Hypoglycemic.
  • Antioxidants
  • Anti-tumor.
  • Antifungal.
  • Hepatoprotective.

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Benefits of Gymnema sylvestre

The main bioactive compounds of the Gymnema sylvestre they are gymnemic acids. These, in addition to its phenolic compounds, saponins and anthraquinones, among others, give it a wide variety of positive health effects. Below we detail the most relevant ones.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that is difficult to manage. This plant could help regulate sugar levels by reducing the desire for consumption.

Decrease sugar cravings

The Gymnema sylvestre has the ability to decrease the desire to eat sugar. According to an investigation disclosed in Physiology & Behavior, gymnemic acid helps suppress sweetness by blocking sweet receptors on the taste buds.

The above is of great help for those who feel a constant need to consume sugary foods. Taking the extracts of this bush a little before meals limits the intake and makes the sugars less attractive.

Helps regulate insulin

Undoubtedly, one of the most studied topics on the Gymnema It is the role it plays on conditions like diabetes and metabolic syndrome. In this regard, a study in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism detail that the plant is an adjunct in the stimulation of insulin production in the pancreas.

Specifically, its extracts are able to promote the regeneration of islet cells, responsible for producing this hormone. As a result, glucose levels drop and health improves. Still, more research is needed to corroborate it.

It favors the control of glucose levels

Continuing with the previous benefit, it should be noted in a special way that the Gymnema sylvestre it has antidiabetic properties. This means that its consumption favors the reduction of high levels of sugar in the blood. It has even been used in combination with medications in order to enhance its effects.

Now, in addition to stimulating insulin secretion, it appears that it also helps to block receptors in the intestine, which prevents the absorption of glucose. According to a study in Current Pharmaceutical Design, It is necessary to take between 200 and 400 milligrams of gymnemic acid to decrease the intestinal absorption of sugar.

In any case, if you are taking glucose-lowering medications, it is advisable to consult your doctor before using these supplements. For now, more studies are required to evaluate these effects, as well as their dosage and level of efficacy.

Has anti-inflammatory activity

The tannins and saponins present in the leaves of Gymnema have been valued for their anti-inflammatory activity. Because of this, its extracts are used as adjuvants for diseases associated with inflammationsuch as diabetes, heart problems, and autoimmune diseases.

Contributes to weight loss

It is not a miracle cure for weight loss overnight; However, the consumption of extracts of Gymnema it is associated with a decrease in body mass index.

In a study published in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism people who took this supplement had a 5% reduction in their body weight.

Likewise, patients – who were moderately obese – had a reduction in food intake and more control over your blood lipid levels.

Helps to take care of cardiovascular health

The consumption of the extracts of this plant also has a positive effect on cardiovascular health. To be more exact, they are useful in regulating the lipid profile.

In the investigation of Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism it was determined that the Gymnema was helpful in lowering triglycerides and cholesterol bad (LDL) in obese patients, by 20.2% and 19%, respectively. Therefore, it is believed that it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

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Contraindications of Gymnema sylvestre

For most healthy adults, Gymnema sylvestre it is considered safe, as long as its consumption is moderate. However, given the lack of evidence on its safety, it is contraindicated in the following cases:

  • Period of pregnancy and lactation.
  • Children and babies.
  • Patients with diabetes who are taking medications (except if the doctor authorizes it).
  • People who will soon have surgery.

Now, although side effects are rare, they can present as consequence of sudden drop in blood sugar. They may include the following:

  • Headache.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Instability.
  • Sickness.

You can get the plant in powder or capsules. Infusions are also prepared with it.

How to consume Gymnema sylvestre?

Right now there are supplements of Gymnema sylvestre powder, capsules, or tea. In addition, its leaves are available for the preparation of home infusions. The recommended dose depends on the chosen presentation and the manufacturer.

However, in general it is like this:

  • 100 milligram capsules: 3 or 4 times a day.
  • A cup of tea: 2 times a day.
  • 2 grams in powder or 4 grams if there are no adverse reactions.

What is there to remember about this plant?

In Ayurvedic medicine, Gymnema sylvestre It is valued for its ability to regulate glucose levels and reduce the risks associated with metabolic syndrome. Even so, it is not considered a first-line treatment for diabetes. It is important to use it in moderation and under medical supervision.

Although some studies support their medicinal properties, the truth is that they should not replace conventional treatments. Simply, if authorized by the doctor, it can be a supplement to promote well-being. Keep that in mind!

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