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Gymnema - Blood Sugar Regulation

Gymnema - Blood Sugar Regulation

Saturday, October 1st 2005

Gymnema sylvestre grows in South-East Asia. Its therapeutic role in relation to diabetes mellitus, rheumatic arthritis and gout has been well known for a long time. Extracts of this plant are widely used in Japanese, Vietnamese and Indian folk medicine.

Indian physicians first used gymnema to treat diabetes almost 2,000 years ago. Today, gymnema has become increasingly popular as a supportive treatment for diabetes.

Research shows that Gymnema sylvestre extract may help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and has been shown to support healthy glucose metabolism by mediation of insulin release and activity, and enhancement of healthy pancreatic function.

The Sugar Blocker

Thousands of years ago, Type II diabetes was treated with gymnema. The leaves, when chewed, effectively block sweet tastes in the mouth, which explains the Hindi name Gurmar meaning "sugar destroyer". The sugar taste-blocking reaction lasted for several hours and also provided a slight block to the taste for salty foods.

Recent Diabetic Studies

Recent clinical and pharmaceutical researchers have demonstrated that gymnema works in two different places in the body: 1) on the taste buds, making us unable to taste sweets for a period of one to two hours, and 2) on the surface of the intestine where sugar is usually absorbed. This results in a diminished taste for sugar (making it easier to follow a diet to lose weight), and a drop in blood sugar level, without letting it drop below normal. Furthermore, a series of studies published in 1990 showed that not only does gymnema regulate glucose levels, but it also helps repair and regenerate the cells in the pancreas that are responsible for the production of insulin (Journal or Ethnopharmacology 1990; 30: 265-279). This would make Gymnema sylvestre helpful in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. There was also a noticeable reduction in cholesterol, triglycerides and fatty acid levels (which were all high at the beginning of the study). This would indeed help prevent cardiovascular complications, so frequent in diabetic patients.

Blood Sugar Regulation

The main focus of gymnema research is blood sugar regulation and glucose metabolism. Several studies suggest that gymnema can lower blood sugar levels in people with type 1 diabetes mellitus (insulin-dependent diabetes) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (non-insulin dependent diabetes).

The herb has been shown to reduce blood sugar, glycosylated haemoglobin and glycosylated plasma proteins when used for 18-20 months. The effect is gradual rather than immediate as with conventional drugs. The active components responsible for lowering glucose are the gymnemic acids.

General Interaction: Gymnema may alter the dosage needed for other drugs commonly used to treat diabetes, including insulin.

Reproduced unabridged from the October - December 2005 issue of Health and Herbal News, with the kind permission of Health and Herbs International Ltd.

Footnote from Ideal Health:

The following products are all useful for Sugar Metabolism:

Blood Sugar
Bitter Melon
Chromium Sugar Balance
Cinnamon
Clean Lean Protein
Chromium Picolinate 200mcg
IsoWhey Weight Management - Madagascan Vanilla®
GTF Chromium
Gymnema Sylvestra
Perfect Sweet
Prevent, Treat & Reverse Diabetes Book
Pro-Pancreas
Stevia Liquid
Stevia Tablets

Related health information can be found here:

Beware of Aspartame or NutraSweet - it's not as sweet as it sounds!
Diabetes and Insulin Resistance
Hypoglycemia
Looking for a sugar alternative? Try Stevia
Water, the elixir of life

Related articles can be found here:

Chromium Essential for sugar metabolism
Cinnamon Promotes Healthy Sugar Metabolism
Gymnema Sylvestre - traditional herb to help control blood sugar
Minerals: Critical for well-being
Natural trends in diabetes care

If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.

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