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What Is Gymnema Extract?

Gymnema sylvestre.
Gymnema is often found mixed with other herbs such as fenugreek.
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  • Written By: Synthia L. Rose
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  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2014
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Gymnema extract is an herbal tincture containing concentrated parts of the gymnema climbing plant which grows in India, Japan, and Sri Lanka. This supplement has a reputation as a sugar blocker. It not only prevents spikes in blood sugar, but can also reportedly kill sugar cravings and the appetite. Some reports also suggest it balances the body’s insulin production.

These characteristics of the gymnema extract have made it an aid for diabetics and dieters. Many people who thwart their health and diets by compulsively eating sugary desserts claim they can usually wean themselves from these snacks after treating themselves with this extract. Sufferers of diabetes who run the risk of blindness and amputation are able to reduce superfluous glucose consumption, studies suggest. Sports players who struggle to avoid excess carbohydrates also find help in taking gymnema, which is loaded with chromium.

Another boon of gymnema extract is that it lowers cholesterol by balancing triglycerides. The pancreas also functions better after the addition of gymnema as a dietary supplement. Antiviral powers of this herb can reportedly make users resistant to influenza. An enhancer for other herbs, gymnema extract generally makes those substances perform better when blended with additional botanicals. For that reason, gymnema extract is often sold in mixtures with herbs like fenugreek and bilberry.

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The herb extract of gymnema is highly concentrated and is applied under the tongue with an eye dropper. The standard dosage for the extract is 25 ml to 75 ml a week spread out over several days, although many consumers take this much a day. Those seeking the benefits of gymnema, but who would prefer not to use a liquid tincture, can purchase loose dried leaves for making tea. Preliminary studies suggest tea infusions of the herb can coat the teeth and discourage plaque. Leaves can also be chewed.

When using capsules, users reportedly experience benefits when taking 5g to 50g daily. The tablet form of gymnema yields effects at roughly 10g to 12g a day, which is the equivalent of one whole gymnema leaf. The tablets are made to be swallowed whole and never chewed for the best impact. Side effects of excess consumption include possible irritation of membranes in the mouth and stomach.

Gymnema benefits are not permanent; the herb must be taken consistently over long periods of time to reap significant improvement. The suppression of sugar cravings may occur in the first week of supplementation or even immediately. The balancing of blood sugar and blood cholesterol generally takes place after a month.

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Discuss this Article

candyquilt
Post 7

I've seen gymnema plants near my grandmother's house in India. The Indian name for gymnema is "gurmar." Gurmar means "sugar killer." So I guess Indians have known of this plant's ability to reduce blood sugar since a long time.

@turquoise-- I have no idea about drug interactions, but you shouldn't take anything on whim without talking to your doctor first.

I've actually been wondering about this too. Gymnema extract is now becoming an alternative or supporting treatment for type 2 diabetes. But type 2 diabetes patients already take medication. So I don't know if they can take the extract and their medication together. I think it could be risky if it lowers blood sugar way too much.

ysmina
Post 6

@turquoise-- There aren't studies or anything like that which say that gymnema sylvestre extract is better to take in one form than the other. Personally, I agree with @SarahSon that the liquid extract is better than other kinds because it enters the body more quickly and directly.

The liquid is absorbed from under the tongue whereas the tea and tablets go through the stomach and are digested. I believe that some of gymnema's benefits might be lost in that process.

But if you can't deal with the liquid or don't want to taste it, then taking the tablets is better than nothing.

turquoise
Post 5

I have such a sweet tooth! I crave sweets all the time, especially after meals and with coffee and tea. I've been this way since I was young but now it's becoming a problem because I'm putting on weight. I exercise but my metabolism seems to be getting slower as I get older.

I'm interested in using gymnema extract but I have a couple of questions about it. First of all, I'm curious if it's more effective and beneficial to take it in one form rather than the other. For example, will I get more benefit from having the plant extract rather than the tablets or the tea?

The other question I have is if this extract counteracts with medications and other supplements? I tend to drink a lot of herbal teas and I do take antibiotics when I get a sinus infection. Will it be a problem to use gymnema extract with these other herbs and drugs?

julies
Post 4

@golf07 - I buy gymnema extract at a local health food store. There are also many places you can buy this online. If you have a small herbal store or health food store near you, they may also be able to order it for you.

There have been many times I have asked a small store to order something for me and they are glad to help me out.

I use the gymnema herb to help with my appetite and keep my blood sugar stable. I have taken this for a long time and it has become a part of my daily routine.

It does not surprise me that the effects are not permanent. There are many ongoing medical problems we have that need regular, consistent attention every day.

I think it is much better to use a herbal treatment like this to hopefully prevent major problems down the road.

golf07
Post 3

I don't have sugar cravings or high blood sugar, but I get a lot of plaque build-up on my teeth.

I find it interesting that studies have shown how drinking this as a tea can discourage plaque. I love just about any kind of tea and I would be curious to see if my dentist noticed any difference in my teeth if I had some of this tea every day.

Gymnema sounds like a very interesting plant extract with a lot of medicinal uses. I have never chewed tea leaves before and don't know what this would be like.

I suppose if I liked the taste of the leaves it wouldn't be so bad. First, I am going to find some of these tea leaves and see what kind of results I get.

What is the best place to find something like this? I don't live close to a big health food store, so finding herbs like this can sometimes be a challenge for me.

SarahSon
Post 2
@andee - I would recommend using gymnema to help reduce sugar cravings. I started taking gymnema leaf extract because I had high blood sugar and high cholesterol.

I know that heart problems and diabetes problems are a bad combination, so I wanted to find a natural way to combat these problems.

It is a lot more convenient to take the capsules, but I have found I get better results when I put the liquid under my tongue.

I keep both of them on hand, but try to use the liquid on a consistent basis. I have never had any side effects from taking this and feel much better about using something like this than a prescribed medication.

I hope if I continue to take this, watch what I eat and exercise, that I can avoid taking medication in the future.

andee
Post 1

I am familiar with many herbal remedies and tinctures, but have never heard of gymnema before. This sounds like it would be a wonderful herbal extract to try for someone who is struggling with diabetes.

My husband's glucose readings are in the pre-diabetic level. He does crave sweets and always likes something sweet after eating a meal.

I wonder if he started taking some gymnema tablets if this would help his sweet tooth. If he wasn't eating as many sweets, he might also lose some weight.

His high blood sugar levels could be decreased quite a bit if he would lose weight and keep it off. If he could get a little extra help with this natural herbal remedy I think it would be worth giving it a try.

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