The use of plants and their parts to promote health and wellness is as old as time itself. Ancient civilizations and generations even went as far as incorporating the use of plants in their skincare products and routine; a habit we are all picking up rapidly in recent times. They understood the role of plants in promoting and maintaining all-round health. Physically, mentally and sometimes spiritually. A good example of a plant used holistically is the Gymnema Sylvestre plant. The Gymnema plant is no remedy to solve all problems but it does have a whole lot of benefits and health-promoting qualities. The more you know about this innocent-looking leafy green plant, the more it will blow your mind...and socks off!
Origins of Gymnema Sylvestre
Gymnema (Gymnema Sylvestre) is a plant in the Apocynaceae family, well known in Ayurvedic practices for its many beneficial qualities. The plant is a perennial woody vine that is found in tropical regions of India, Africa, and Australia.
Gymnema is a climbing plant with elongated, oval leaves that have soft hairs on the top surface. The plant has small, yellow flowers that are produced throughout the year.
Gymnema Sylvestre leaves contain gymnemic acids, which are major bioactive ingredients that act to suppress the taste of sugar by interacting with taste receptors on the tongue.1
This suppression of sugar taste is temporary, but it has proven to be most useful in the regulation of blood sugar levels. Another reason that Gymnema is considered a sugar regulator is because it is thought to support the regulation of sugar absorption in the body, thus, the plant has become popular in research materials, evaluating its effectiveness in promoting healthy weight and sugar regulation in Western health practices as well as in India. Other names for Gymnema include Sanskrit: Meshashringi, madhunashini, Hindi: Gur-mar, merasingi, Marathi: Kavali, kalikardori, vakundi, Gujrathi: Dhuleti, Australian cowplant, and Periploca of the woods.²
What Can Gymnema Do?
There are several reasons to use Gymnema. If you are looking to improve various aspects of your life, let’s go over the most popular ones right here:
- Promotes healthy blood sugar levels: For thousands of years, Ayurvedic practices have included the use of Gymnema to regulate sugar levels in the blood so this is no newfound fad or hipster herb. To truly understand what Gymnema does and why it is such a big deal, let’s have a brief dive into Biology, shall we? When we eat carbohydrates the sugar that is released is called glucose. Blood sugar levels are the levels of glucose derived from food consumption that can be found in the blood at any given time. We need insulin to be able to regulate the levels of glucose in the blood. Insulin is produced in the pancreas. Those who have blood sugar problems either don’t produce enough insulin or the insulin they do produce doesn’t work quite as well as it should.
- Reduces Sugar Cravings by Making Sweet Foods Taste Less Appealing: Gymnema Sylvestre can decrease the absorption of glucose in the small intestine as one of its active ingredients is gymnemic acid. The structure of gymnemic acid is similar to that of glucose so by attaching to small receptors that line the gut it can therefore block the uptake of glucose. Similarly, these receptors will attach to your taste buds, so if you were to chew a leaf, or consume it in a tea or pill form and go on to eat sugar you would find that the beautiful sweet taste that we so often crave will have vanished. Replaced by a somewhat chalky sensation, really nothing pleasurable about that! Not only does it stop the absorption of sugar, and make you not want to consume it in the first place, it also promotes cell production in the pancreas, and we now know how important the pancreas is for insulin production. As a supplement, Gymnema has shown promising results time and time again.
- Maintaining Healthy Weight: Whilst the pancreas is stimulated to produce insulin, which helps to maintain the body’s blood sugar levels. The small intestine blocks the absorption of sugar therefore the body looks for other energy sources found in fat lipids. Encouraging better fat metabolism, a great way to maintain a healthy weight. One of the primary active components in this plant is gymnemic acid, which helps suppress sweetness. When consumed before a sugary food or beverage, gymnemic acid blocks the sugar receptors on your taste buds Research shows that Gymnema Sylvestre extracts can reduce the ability to taste the sweetness and thus make sweet foods less appealing. By blocking sweet receptors on your taste buds, Gymnema Sylvestre may cause you to eat fewer sweet foods and consume fewer calories. A consistent calorie deficit can result in maintaining a healthy weight.³
- Promotes healthy heart functions: Gymnema supports healthy heart functions by supporting healthy cholesterol and lipids levels and limiting excessive cholesterol buildup in the coronary arteries. It supports the lowering of “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides. Although Gymnema is very popular for lowering sugar levels and cravings, it also greatly influences fat absorption, cholesterol, and lipid levels.
- Promotes increased production of Insulin: Gymnema’s role in insulin secretion and cell regeneration may also contribute to its blood-sugar-lowering abilities. Elevated insulin levels mean that sugar is cleared from your blood at a faster rate. Gymnema triggers the production of insulin in the pancreas promoting the regeneration of insulin-producing cells. Which in turn supports healthy blood sugar levels.
Gymnema leaf can be consumed in different natural forms. They can be taken as teas, liquid extracts, powder form, bulk herb, or capsules. Herbal Goodness blend of Gymnema leaf bulk herb is an ideal choice to make on this holistic approach to your health. A good idea would be to take Gymnema leaf tea a few minutes before consuming a high-sugar meal or snack. For maximum benefit, Herbal Goodness loose leaves must be properly prepared to get the greatest amount of beneficial extracts! It is best to use flash boiled water poured into the teapot as if to rinse, and quickly pour it out.
- www.verywellhealth.com. The Health Benefits of Gymnema Sylvestre. Accessed on March 21, 2020.
- Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition. Gymnema sylvestre: A Memoir. Accessed on August 29, 2007.
- www.Healthline.com. 6 Impressive Health Benefits of Gymnema Sylvestre. Accessed on June 18, 2018.