Whether you have diabetes and need to carefully watch your sugar intake or simply want to consume less sugar, doing it can be incredible challenging. The fact you can find sugar in so many food products doesn’t help either! But what if we told you that one of the most well-researched herbs can crush those constant sugar cravings? Well, meet the miracle plant: gymnema sylvestre.
A History of Gymnema Sylvestre: Uses and Benefits
Native to Africa and South Asia, gymnema is a woody climbing shrub also known as gurmar, the Hindi word for ‘sugar destroyer.’ People have it used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicinal practices in places such as Australia, Japan, and Vietnam. But it has only been since around the 1930s that researchers began investigating the plant’s effects.
While gymnema’s stem may have some effects on the body, its leaves have been most commonly used to help:
Lower blood sugar
Reduce the intestines’ sugar absorption
Lower LDL cholesterol
Promote the pancreas to release insulin
Other less common uses include stomach problems, constipation, liver disease, water retention, malaria, and snake bites. Researchers suggest, however, that they need more evidence before making claims about its certain effectiveness.
In either case, scientists and non-scientists alike believe that gymnema sylvestre has the power to curb your desire for sweets, block sugar absorption, and balance blood sugar levels.
Gymnema: How Does the Miracle Plant Work?
If you look at the gymnema plant’s leaves and grooves at a molecular level, you’ll find a compound called ‘gurmarin.’ Traditionally, people simply chew its leaves to reap any number of the benefits above. But in whatever form you might take it, the gurmarin compound blocks your taste buds’ sugar receptors (hence its nickname).
Try chewing a gymnema leaf and then immediately eating a piece of chocolate. You’ll notice a significantly reduced sweetness. So, it can effectively stop your sugar cravings. Because what’s the point of eating sweets you can’t taste?
In addition to gurmarin, the plant also contains gymnemic acid which researchers have found to suppress appetite. In a human study, researchers compared the effects of gymnema on how much people could eat. Individuals who took gymnema an hour before meals ate less than those who didn’t. This seems to be a very practical and natural alternative for anyone battling obesity, or simply wanting to eat less during meals.
Researchers have continued to explore gymnemic acid’s effect on weight loss and, as a by-product, diabetes. An early study in Phytochemistry using rodents observed that upon entering the intestine, the acid attaches itself to intestinal receptors in such a way that temporarily blocks carbs. This, in effect, delays glucose absorption and helps lower blood sugar levels and treat diabetes.[6,7]
A trial with 65 humans with high blood sugar got the same effects after taking a gymnema leaf extract for ninety days. And, in people with type 2 diabetes, it helped increase their glycemic control.
There is also evidence suggesting that gymnema leaf extract in diabetic patients stimulates the pancreas which increases the release of insulin. The same compound can also lower cholesterol levels by way of fecal excretion.[9,10]
How You Can Use Gymnema Sylvestre
Scientists and professionals in the health industry are recognizing the benefits of this plant more and more. Because of this, you aren’t limited to chewing on a leaf and, instead, you have it in forms such as:
Lozenges (spearmint-flavored ones!)
Whole leaf (dried herb)
The Recommended Gymnema Sylvestre Dosage
Because this plant has such a long and rich history, how much of the leaf they chewed isn’t necessarily clear. But of the clinical trials that do exist, researchers tend to use 200 or 400-milligram extracts daily. Also, within either dosage, they are standardized to contain 25% gymnemic acids.
When You Can Start to See Results
We mentioned a study earlier that revealed fast results with individuals eating less at meals after taking gymnema extracts just one hour earlier. Another study that we cited, however, mentioned that individuals being treated for diabetes noticed results over the course of ninety days. The study’s authors also concluded by suggesting that gymnema could effectively prevent diabetic complications in the long-run. In short, you could experience more immediate or long-term results. It depends on why you’re using the plant.
As a rule of thumb, it’s always best to consult with your doctor about using a new natural supplement. Despite how promising gymnema is, its effects could vary depending on your age, medical history, etc.
Gymnema Sylvestre Tea
It’s easy to help curb sugar cravings when you’re at home with everything at your fingertips. But it’s when you’re out running errands or seeing a friend that the cravings kick in.
A great solution is gymnema sylvestre tea! Whether you get certified organic tea bags or steep the dried herb yourself, it’s a perfect solution to curb your craving, maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and keep you hydrated.
If you like having a refreshing hot or iced beverage while your out, take this drink along with you!
How to Prepare Gymnema Sylvestre Tea:
Put 1 gymnema sylvestre tea bag into a cup of boiling water
Steep the tea for 3 to 5 minutes
Remove the tea bag (optional) and serve
Prefer chilled drinks instead? Simply drop a few ice cubes in there and enjoy! If you’d like to put this plant to the test, here is an organic GMO-free gymnema sylvestre tea that we think will pleasantly surprise you.
Or if you like things like Tic Tacs or chewing gum, these mints are a perfect on-the-go alternative for crushing sugar cravings on the go.
Maximize Weight Loss and Blood Sugar Balance
Rarely do you find a solution that completely fixes a problem by itself. We’d argue that one doesn’t exist. But if you use something like gymnema sylvestre tea in combination with a physical activity routine or a diet that keeps your blood sugar in mind, you’ll likely see some incredible changes sooner than you think. Give it a try – what have you got to lose?
Disclaimer: As mentioned earlier, some of these remedies are only supported so far by preliminary studies with either a non-human subject like rats or mice or only a small group of human subjects. While scientists continue to work to gather more data to support these remedies, you can talk with your health practitioner about using one or even several of these natural options as an alternative to riskier drug-based methods. Many of these tricks have been passed down from generation to generation, and continue to be based on people’s success with them.
 Kanetkar P.V., Laddha K.S., Kamat M.Y. Poster presented at the 16th ICFOST meet organized by CFTRI and DFRL. Mysore, India: 2004. Gymnemic acids: A molecular perspective of its action on carbohydrate metabolism