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Gymnema Sylvestre

Author: Jack Challem and Burton Berkson, M.D., Ph.D.
Source: Syndrome X

Gymnema sylvestre, also known as gurmar is another herb from India’s Ayurvedic medical traditions that has been used for centuries to neutralize excess sugar. As with many other Ayurvedic herbs, its properties have been confirmed by scientific studies. Some research in insulin-dependent diabetics has found that it can increase insulin secretion by the pancreas. Other research indicates that it can increase the efficiency of insulin in reducing glucose levels.

In one study, 22 adult diabetics taking glucose-lowering drugs were also given Gymnema leaf extracts. All of the patients benefited from significant reductions in glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin after taking Gymnema for 18 months. In fact, 5 of the patients were able to safely discontinue taking their glucose-reducing drugs as long as they kept taking Gymnema. The subjects reported that they were more alert, less exhausted, and had an overall better sense of well-being.

Some research indicates that Gymnema promotes the regeneration of pancreatic beta cells, which produce insulin. If so, Gymnema would be of considerable benefit in people with either juvenile- or adult-onset diabetes. Positive responses in a couple of diabetic patients prompted Indian researchers to more rigorously test Gymnema on laboratory rats. They found that Gymnema supplementation resulted in a near-normal fasting and postmeal glucose response.

A similar experiment on 27 insulin-dependent diabetics also had positive results. Glucose levels declined, and insulin requirements were reduced during the yearlong study. Glycosylated hemoglobin levels were also reduced. Some of the subjects had an improvement in neuropathic symptoms, evidenced by reduced pain in arms and legs, within a couple weeks of taking gurmar. Several patients also described an improved sense of physical well-being and greater mental sharpness.


Baskaran K, “Antidiabetic effect of a leaf extract from Gymnema sylvestre in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus patients,” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 1990;30:295-305.