Gymnema sylvestre can be defined as a compound that is used to treat blood pressure and diabetes. Gymnema Sylvestre extract is a derivative of the Gymnema sylvestre herb. It has other common names such as Periploca of the woods, merasingi, and gurmar. It is also commonly referred to as the destroyer of sugar.
It is native to both Africa and India. It was traditionally utilized in Ayurvedic medicine i.e. a healing system for the entire body that is focused on enhancing health instead of fighting disease. This is because it contains several compounds which are believed to benefit an individual’s overall health. Its traditional use in India was primarily to control the levels of blood sugar.
However, it has since been used for several other applications such as in the treatment of liver disease, water retention and gastrointestinal issues. Generally, Gymnema extract is a potent herb with an array of potential benefits as well as uses, in Western cultures to be particular.
Is Gymnema Sylvestre Safe?
It is thought that Gymnema Sylvestre is completely safe for consumption for a period up to twenty months. However, this is only true when the extract is utilized in the appropriate manner and in safe quantities.
A major potential safety concern has to deal with the fact that it can reduce blood sugar to very low levels. When the blood sugar levels are too low, it can be dangerous to the proper functioning of the human body.
It seems that Gymnema extract is yet to have extensive research done on it using human subjects. This is the main reason why researchers think that it might result in issues that they are still not aware of.
Research conducted at the University of Texas at El Paso indicates that Gymnema lacks any interactions with other kinds of prescription medications popularly used.
Individuals should first consult a qualified physician prior to commencing the use of any dietary supplement formulated as an herbal treatment. This applies especially if a person is below the age of 18 years, is pregnant, is breastfeeding, or has pre-existing medical conditions.
All in all, Gymnema extract is considered to be safe based on research results. However, it is still advisable to first consult a physician before using it. This is usually the norm with any medical ingredient.
The natural source of Gymnema extract is the Gymnema sylvestre plant that belongs to the plant family referred to as Asclepiadaceae. The herb grows naturally in countries like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Africa and China. It is particularly found in the subtropical and tropical regions of these countries.
Gymnema sylvestre plant has its harvesting period between the months of September and February.
Generally, Gymnema extract is derived from the Gymnema sylvestre herb that naturally grows mainly in the Western hemisphere.
Benefits of Gymnema Sylvestre
Gymnema extract has several medicinal uses that you can benefit from. The notable ones are as listed below:
Lower Cholesterol Levels
Extract can be used to lower cholesterol levels in the human body. There is a single study that indicated that the leaf extract of Gymnema sylvestre plant can significantly improve the levels of serum cholesterol in rats.
The findings were confirmed by another study which added the fact that a simple diet that contains the leaf extract of Gymnema sylvestre plant had the potential of improving more than just the levels of serum cholesterol. This is because it could also improve the levels of leptin cholesterol, lipoprotein of very-low density, low-density lipoprotein and that of triglyceride.
Gymnema sylvestre can greatly decrease the levels of cholesterol when combined with vanadium and chromium.
Tests were conducted on human subjects in the age range of 30 – 60 using the potent leaf extract of Gymnema sylvestre plant. The test results strongly indicated that cholesterol levels were decreased by up to 13% by the medicinal compound. This was specifically in individuals who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Similarly, a study that involved fasting rats produced similar results. In the study several types of cholesterol greatly decreased.
However, it is only fair to note that animal subjects experienced a more drastic effect from the herbal extract compared to human subjects. Furthermore, countable studies have been conducted on human subjects and this makes potential effects on cholesterol quite unclear and therefore inconclusive.
Generally, Gymnema extract appears to significantly lower levels of cholesterol. However, most research studies are performed on animal subjects and this is not an excellent indicator of its effects on human beings.
Gymnema extract is an ingredient that is commonly used in several weight loss supplements available on the market today.
According to the Huntington College of Health Sciences, the human body’s capacity for absorption of excess calories from fats and carbohydrates is decreased by Gymnema sylvestre. This can result in weight loss. A study that tested the herb’s hypoglycemic effects concluded that it reduced the levels of blood glucose in rats.
A reduction in the levels of blood glucose is believed to facilitate weight loss. It achieves this by affecting the sensation of hunger and the quantity of fat storage.
When Gymnema sylvestre is combined with vitamin C, fenugreek, chitosan and glucomannan, it greatly reduces body weight in adults who are suffering from obesity.
Generally, there are studies that suggest the extract from Gymnema sylvestre can lead to weight loss. However, most of these results were observed in rats. Studies that involve human subjects are too few and this makes the claim that it can support weight loss a bit challenging.
Gymnema extract is thought to be an effective component to be used for anti-aging purposes by a licensed medical researcher called Dr. David Williams.
There is a study that supports the statement. This is because it suggests that Gymnema sylvestre can help in treating aldose inhibition which is as a result of sugar induced cataracts. Sugar induced cataracts are known to affect vision and mainly develop in adults age 80 or older.
Similarly, this herbal extract is believed to aid in the protection of the osmotic lens from getting damaged especially in the population that is much older.
Furthermore, consuming the leaf extract of Gymnema sylvestre has been established to enhance the effects of colitis in rats when experimentally induced. This makes it possible to believe that the extract can aid in reducing the issues related to natural colitis that affect the aging adult community.
Research has also established that the leaf extract of Gymnema sylvestre can reduce the levels of lipid peroxidation and blood glucose when it is ingested as a form of antioxidant. However, this test was done on rats that were diagnosed with the diabetes mellitus condition. It is usually triggered by aging in both humans and animals.
The main reason for the situation is believed to be due to the component’s anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
There is a claim by a study that was published in The World of Gastroenterology that Gymnema extract can significantly aid in the management of diabetes mellitus when combined with voglibose. Voglibose is basically an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor. However, it should be noted that the combination does not reduce the levels of blood glucose.
Gymnema sylvestre plant is believed to have some medicinal benefits with regard to the operation of the pancreatic beta cells. This means that the extract may fail to affect aging.
Generally, research fails to support the use of this extract to reduce the effects but a great deal of the information is derived from animal studies. This therefore does not provide an accurate representation of the potential reactions it can have on the elderly human population.
Other Health Benefits
Gymnema extract is associated with an array of health benefits. The main ones include the following:
It is used in the effective treatment as well as management of metabolic syndrome and diabetes. This statement was supported in an article written by Dr. Whitaker who founded the Whitaker Wellness Institute and who is also a pioneer in herbal medication development. This was in his article that claimed that the extract can aid in the treatment of the effects associated with diabetes. It achieves this through lowering blood sugar.
There is also a different source that acknowledged the capability of Gymnema extract to lower the levels of blood sugar.
It is used to treat neuropathy in individuals who have been diagnosed with chronic diabetes. This was supported by a study which was published in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine.
Gymnema sylvestre plant contains adequate quantities of copper, manganese, magnesium, iron and calcium. All of these are important trace minerals (nutrient) that are required for your good health and wellbeing.
Generally, the extract appears to possess several health benefits. Nonetheless, more research is necessary to validate all the claims.
Side Effects of Gymnema Sylvestre
There are a number of side effects associated with the use of Gymnema extract especially in high doses. Furthermore, it is believed to have some adverse side effects if it is taken with other prescription drugs.
There are some research findings that also suggest that the extract of Gymnema has only minimal side effects in comparison to other herbal remedies available on the market today.
There are consumers that have raised complaints of dizziness, cramping, increased blood sugar and leg pain whenever using a number of supplements that contain the Gymnema extract.
Gymnema Sylvestre Conclusion
All in all, Gymnema extract has several benefits as well as limitations. It is safe when consumed in moderation. Nonetheless, it is important to first consult a physician prior to commencing the use of this potent herbal remedy.