Gymnema

Scientific names: Gymnema sylvestre (Retz.) R. Br. ex Schult.

Common names: Gymnema is also known as meshashringi, gurmar, merasingi, and periploca of the woods.

Efficacy-safety rating:

ÒÒ...Ethno or other evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...Little exposure or very minor concerns.

What is Gymnema?

Gymnema sylvestre is a woody, climbing plant, which grows in the tropical forests of central and southern India. Distribution is worldwide and it is recognized in the traditional medicine of many countries including Australia, Japan, and Vietnam. The leaves are most commonly used, but the stem also appears to have some drug action. Gymnema is also known as Asclepias geminata, Gymnema melicida, and Pinus sylvestris.

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What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Gymnema has played an important role in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Its use has been confined primarily to the management of diabetes and similar conditions of altered blood sugar. As early as 1930, these effects of the plant were investigated. The leaves also have been used for stomach ailments, constipation, water retention, and liver disease. The flowers, leaves, and fruits have been used in the treatment of alterations of blood pressure and heart rhythms. Chewing the leaves destroys the ability to identify the sweet taste, giving it the common Hindi name of gurmar, or “sugar destroyer.” The plant has become available in a number of commercial over-the-counter herbal products.

General uses

The plant has been used in traditional medicine, most notably to control blood sugar. Use of gymnema as a lipid-lowering agent, for weight loss, and to prevent cavities has also been investigated, primarily in rat or mouse studies. However, little to no clinical information is available to support the use of gymnema for any indication.

What is the recommended dosage?

Limited controlled studies exist. Clinical studies investigating diabetes have typically used 200 or 400 mg extract daily, standardized to contain 25% gymnemic acids.

How safe is it?

Contraindications

None established.

Pregnancy/nursing

Information regarding safety and effectiveness in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Side Effects

A case report of liver toxicity exists.

Toxicities

Information is lacking.

References

  1. Gymnema. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons [database online]. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health Inc; October 2011.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

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