Gymnema sylvestre is a perennial woody vine that grows in tropical areas of India, Africa, and Australia and has been used for medicinal purposes in Ayurvedic Medicine. Common names include Gymnema, Australian cowplant, and Periploca of the woods, and the Hindi term gurmar which means “sugar destroyer.”
The leaves and extracts contain gymnemic acids, the major bioactive constituents that interact with taste receptors on the tongue to temporarily suppress the taste of sweetness.
Reduction of sugar intake: Gymnema sylvestre extracts taken in the form of lozenges, mouthwash, or tea diminishes the consumption of sweet foods and overall caloric intake. Gymnema sylvestre extracts (formulated as a mint lozenge) reduced the desire for high-sugar foods and the pleasant taste of candy. Research also suggests that Gymnema sylvestre extracts reduce cravings for sugar. In a double-blind study, participants who received a gymnemic acid lozenge declined candy (before tasting it) more often than the placebo group.
Diabetes: Early research suggests when a specific gymnema extract (GS4) is taken orally along with insulin or diabetes medications, blood sugar reduction in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes is enhance.
Weight loss: In Japan, 50 tons of Gymnema sylvestre leaves are consumed annually for the purpose of weight loss. Early research suggests that taking a specific combination of Gymnema sylvestre extract, hydroxycitric acid, and niacin-bound chromium by mouth for 8 weeks might reduce body weight in people who are overweight or obese.
Traditional uses: In Eastern and Ayurvedic medicine, Gymnema sylvestre leaves and extracts have been used to treat eye diseases, allergies, constipation, cough, dental caries, obesity, stomach ailments, and viral infections. Gymnema sylvestre has also been used as an antioxidant, antimicrobial, and aphrodisiac.