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Gymnema sylvestre

Gymnema sylvestre       

Common name: Gymnema, Gurmar (in Hindi means “sugar destroyer”)

Family: Asclepiadaceae

Part used: Leaf

Constituents: 

 

  • Triterpenoid Saponins (gymnemic acids I-XVIII & gymnemasaponins I-V)
  • Polypeptides: gurmarin
  • Cyclitol: quercitol
  • Phytosterols: stigmasterol
  • Amino acid derivatives: betaine, choline & trimethylamine
  • Resin

 

Medicinal Actions:

  •      Astringent
  •      Bitter
  •      Diuretic
  •      Hypoglycemic & Antidiabetic
  •      Hypocholesterolemic

Medical uses: 

  • Has been used in the treatment of diabetes mellitus in India for over 2000 years. Due to its ability to abolish the taste of sugar, in Hindi its name means “sugar destroyer” and in Ayurvedic medicine indications include hyperglycemia, glycosuria, urinary and disorders.
  • Indigenous tribal communities to south-eastern India grow as a climbing vine near their home, and it is a household custom to consume one leaf a day and regularly add leaves to several of the common curry dishes, and is eaten as a leafy vegetable in the traditional diet of eastern Ethiopians. Teas and extracts have been sold in Japan for weight loss since at least the 1960’s.

Pharmacology: 

  • Triterpene saponins, gymnemic acids, gymnemasaponins, and gurmarin appear to be responsible for sweet suppression and pharmacological effects.
  • (Note: Some gymnemic acids are acylate, while the gymnemasaponins are non-acylated, and cylation affects pharmacological activity. Also, gurmarin is active on rodent sweet taste receptors but not on that of humans).
  • Anti-diabetic & hypoglycemic activity may be due to a combination of mechanisms, including inhibition of glucose absorption in the small intestine, enhanced endogenous insulin production (possibly by pancreatic regeneration), increases to the activity of enzymes responsible for glucose uptake and utilization (e.g. phosphorylase, gluconeogenic enzymes & sorbitol dehydrogenase), and inhibition of peripheral utilization of glucose by somatotrophin and corticotrophin.
  • In one study, gymnemoside b and gymnemic acids III, V and VII produced some inhibitory activity on glucose absorption after oral glucose loading in rats, but gymnemic acid I and gymnemasaponin V were inactive.

Pharmacy:

  • Tincture: (1:1, 40%), 1-5 ml BID. 25 to 75 ml weekly max.  or 1-2 ml directly on tongue every 3 hours.
  • Capsules: 400-600 mg, QD (standardized to 25% gymnemic acids. Best taken long-term (1 year or more).
  • As food, fresh juice or infusion.

Toxicity:

  • May cause mild stomach upset and hypoglycemia.
  • Safety in pregnancy has not been established.
  • No significant adverse effects have been reported, aside from the expected hypoglycemia. Safety in pregnancy has not been established.
  • No known contraindications.

Contraindications: None known

Interactions:

  • Potential additive effect with other anti-diabetic agents. Prescribe cautiously and monitor blood sugar regularly. Warn patient about possible hypoglycemic effects.

References:

  • Find a complete list of references for this monograph as well as images and a review of its evidence based applications in Dr. Marciano’s Herbal Textbook.

 

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