Gymnema Silvestre has been a staple plant used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to help treat a myriad of ills. Research is uncovering just how this plant can help treat various conditions that include diabetes, obesity, and arthritis pain. In Ayurvedic tradition, it’s used to heal skin conditions and to help treat venomous snakebites. Learn more about the health benefits associated with this plant to see if it’s right for you.
Gymnema Silvestre is a vine and member of the milkweed family that grows in tropical areas of India, Australia, and Africa. Gymnema Silvestre is a woody perennial that sometimes goes by the name Periploca, Gurmar, or Australian Cowplant. Whatever you choose to call it, this vine has long been used to treat a myriad of ills in Ayurvedic medical traditions. There is historical evidence that this plant has been used medicinally since the 6th century B.C. As increasing numbers of researchers look to traditional medicines and natural treatments for a wide array of conditions, Gymnema Silvestre has come under close observation for its potent properties.
Introduction to Health Benefits of Gymnema Silvestre
In traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine, practitioners have prescribed Gymnema Silvestre for everything from snakebites to malaria. More recently, medical researchers have examined this botanical for its potential for helping to treat diabetes and supporting weight loss. Clinical trials and studies are leading researchers to understand scientifically why Gymnema Silvestre has played such a significant role in various folk medicine traditions. The following information includes some of the health benefits that are most closely associated with this ancient vine.
Gymnema Silvestre and Diabetes
There is the belief among medical experts that Gymnema Silvestre could prove to be an effective treatment for type 1 and type 2 diabetes in conjunction with conventional medications. While more evidence must be gathered before theories can be confirmed, it’s thought that Gymnema Silvestre can help moderate blood sugar levels. Some researchers believe that Gymnema Silvestre helps to decrease blood sugar by helping to increase insulin secretion and the regeneration of pancreas islet cells. Gymnema Silvestre can also help reduce sugar cravings, which can help diabetic patients stick to their diet plans which is so essential to maintaining health.
Gymnema Silvestre could become the next great natural treatment for obesity with its ability to promote weight loss. In the Indian language, Gymnema Silvestre, or Gurmar, can be translated as “sugar destroyer.” This plant has the uncanny ability to block the taste of sugar. According to research, Gymnema Silvestre helps block the absorption of sugar through both the taste buds and intestinal walls. Not only does this support healthy blood sugar levels, but it helps to reduce cravings for sweets. Gymnema Silvestre does not block other tastes salty or spicy good foods–just sugar.
Yet, this plant’s power to promote weight loss doesn’t stop there. Gymnema Silvestre forces the body to burn fat for fuel because it blocks it from using the sugar from carbohydrates for energy. As fat is burned, pounds are shed. As the plant is a mild diuretic, it can also reduce water retention as an extra benefit for people trying to lose inches from their waistlines. A study published in Physiology & Behavior found that people who took it an hour before meals consumed less food than people who did not take the supplement.
Folk remedy practitioners have prescribed Gymnema to help reduce symptoms of arthritis. The herb appears to achieve the best results when people with arthritis take it periodically to prevent painful flare-ups. Gymnema Silvestre has properties that can reduce inflammation. This is especially helpful in treating symptoms of arthritis as well as gout.
Gymnema Sylvestre for Cell Functioning
The research with Gymnema Sylvestre suggests that it can enhance cell functioning, particularly in a way that helps reduce the risk of diabetes. A research team led by scientists from King’s College London assessed the effects of an extract from Gymnema Sylvestre on a group of individuals with type 2 diabetes and published their findings in a 2010 edition of Phytotherapy Research. Study results showed that the Gymnema Sylvestre extract stimulated the release of insulin from the cells and reduced blood sugar levels. Based on this finding, Gymnema Sylvestre can be used to foster healthy cell functioning and to lower blood sugar levels.
Gymnema Sylvestre and the Brain
Animal research has suggested that Gymnema Sylvestre can help protect the brain. A 2009 study in the Journal of Environmental Pathology, Toxicology and Oncology assessed the effects of Gymnema Sylvestre on the brains of mice that were exposed to radiation. Study authors, who worked for the University of Rajasthan, found that Gymnema Sylvestre had an antioxidant effect on the brain. This suggests a protective effect of this herb.
Helps Fights Free Radicals
Free radical damage, also called oxidative damage, plays a role in the development of several diseases by damaging cells and DNA. Gymnema Sylvestre contains antioxidants, including tannins and saponins, which neutralize free radicals to minimize oxidative damage in cells throughout the body. This herb is best-known for its ability to help people with diabetes by increasing insulin levels and lowering blood sugar. In diabetic mice, Gymnema Sylvestre has been found to reduce oxidative stress and protect the liver and kidneys from damage with its antioxidant power.
Ayurvedic Uses for Gymnema Silvestre
Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient holistic medicine system that was developed in India over 3,000 years ago. Ayurvedic medicine promotes herbal compounds, medicinal practices, and special diets to combat disease and support good health. While many aspects of Ayurvedic medicine have not been adopted or studied by Western Medicine, they are still widely respected in the East. In Ayurvedic traditions, Gymnema Silvestre is used to treat conditions like venomous snakebites. Practitioners make a paste using the plant and apply it to the bite where it is said to help with swelling and to reduce the effects of the toxin possibly. Paste from the leaf is also used to treat people suffering from various skin ailments. Other Ayurvedic uses for this plant include relief from coughs, relief from colds, blood and bleeding disorders, wounds, ulcers, vomiting, worm infestation, constipation, and to promote digestive health.
If you decide to embark on a course of Gymnema Silvestre to help treat these or other ailments, it’s a good idea to consult your healthcare provider, primarily to ensure that the herb is safe for you to take in conjunction with any other medications you may be taking. Gymnema Silvestre is still being studied so you may want to look for more forthcoming information in months and years to come as this herb’s efficacy as an evidence-based treatment is verified.