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How Effective Is Gymnema for Diabetes?

Gymnema has shown to be effective on lab mice for treating diabetes.
Using gymnema for diabetes causes the pancreas to produce more insulin.
Gymnema sylvestre.
Prolonged high blood sugar may cause vision problems in diabetics.
Hypoglycemia is a common side effect of excess doses of gymnema.
Patients with uncontrolled diabetes may fall into a coma and eventually die.
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  • Written By: Synthia L. Rose
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The plant gymnema sylvestre, a staple in ancient Indian medicine, has proven moderately to highly effective for controlling and reversing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, according to molecular studies on the plant’s chemical composition. In lab mice, injections of gymnema effectively reduced blood sugar levels between 10 percent and 60 percent. Some scientists, however, suggest that the benefits of using gymnema for diabetes are unproven and that more double-blind studies are needed. Anecdotally, gymnema for diabetes has been touted as a natural treatment since before the birth of Christ.

Gymnema’s power comes from the five different gymnemic acids found in the leaves and stems of the plant; these acids are known as saponin glycosides. By consuming these acids in teas and supplements made from the gymnema sylvestre herb, some diabetics have found that their blood sugar remains balanced and is not as susceptible to peaks and plummets. The gymnema plant has also been cited in medical studies for inducing weight loss, another benefit for diabetic patients, many of whom are obese.

Diabetes, an illness caused by excessively high blood glucose, can be countered by gymnema in three ways. First, the herb reportedly reduces the body’s ability to absorb sugar. Secondly, studies suggest gymnema sylvestre can reduce lipids, which are usually excessively high in diabetics, leading to elevated cholesterol and possibly resistance to insulin. This inflated cholesterol level can also engender heart disease.

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Thirdly, using gymnema for diabetes causes the pancreas to produce more insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps turn glucose into usable energy, thereby reducing the levels of sugar in the bloodstream. For patients with diabetes, insulin’s ability to convert sugar is hampered. Often the bodies of diabetics do not create enough insulin, putting them at risk of diabetes-related blindness, stroke, and kidney disease. High sugar levels can even lead to coma.

Studies have shown that diabetics can reap the benefits of gymnema by taking roughly 500 mg of the herb each day; for the best benefit, doctors suggest that the supplement is composed of at least 24 percent gymnemic acids. Many doctors recommend taking the herb with diabetes medication, not in lieu of it. Patients can take the gymnema for diabetes orally or infuse their medical insulin with gymnema.

There are side effects to taking gymnema for diabetes. Users report that they are unable to taste the sweetness in foods after drinking gymnema tea; some diabetics appreciate the loss and feel it reduces their desire for sweets. This side effect is usually not reported when gymnema is taken in the form of a capsule supplement. Another side effect is that excess dosages of gymnema may reduce blood sugar too much, creating hypoglycemia.

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Discuss this Article

Feryll
Post 3

I used to think that diabetes was a disease that almost exclusively affected people who were overweight and in bad physical condition in general. This was until I learned that several professional basketball players and other professional athletes have diabetes. I currently take ginseng supplements for overall health. One of ginseng's benefits is that it is thought to have some positive impact on controlling blood sugar.

Drentel
Post 2

I have a friend who found out a couple of years ago that he has high blood sugar. He was taking some medicine that his doctor prescribed for him. His blood sugar levels were not dropping, but he still doesn't have diabetes as of his last visit to the doctor. The problem is that the medicine really upsets his stomach. He says that the diarrhea he gets makes him wonder if the treatment is not as bad as the condition.

He also tried taking the herb biter melon, which is supposed to reduce blood sugar levels in the body. He thought since the bitter melon was something that occurred naturally maybe it wouldn't upset his stomach as much as the prescription medicine. Unfortunately, the bitter melon had the same effect on his stomach as what the doctor gave him.

Laotionne
Post 1

My aunt has diabetes, as do several other members of my family. She is overweight, so this may have something to do with her condition. Even with the medications she takes, diabetes is having a long term effect on her health. The disease will almost assuredly cut her life short. If a natural plant like gymnema has the ability to help prevent or limit the effects of this disease then many people will benefit. I hope further research shows that the plant is a good diabetes remedy.

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