Gymnema sylvestre (scientific name) is a plant in the Apocynaceae family. This woody climbing shrub with elliptical leaves and small yellow flowers produced throughout the year, is native to the tropical forests of India, Africa and Australia.
Its leaves have been used in the ancient Indian medicinal practice Ayurveda for thousands of years. In Ayurveda, diabetes is referred to as "Madhumeh" . That’s why this plant is also called Madhunashini in Kannada or Gurmar in Hindi for “destroyer of sugar.” It is also called Meshashringi as the leaves are said to be shaped like ‘goat horns’. In Australia, this plant is called Cowplant. Another name for it is Perrpioca of the Woods.
This herb is thought to inhibit sugar absorption because its leaves contain triterpenoid saponins, flavonols and gurmarin, the sweet taste-suppressing polypeptide.
A very effective herbal medicine to control diabetes naturally, Gurmar helps in reducing sugar cravings and achieving better control over blood sugar levels. It activates the pancreas and helps it secrete a balanced quantity of insulin, by which extra glucose gets converted into Glycogen.
Blocks sugar receptors
One of the primary active components in this plant is Gymnemic acid, which helps suppress sweetness. When consumed, the acid blocks the sugar receptors on your taste buds and reduces sugar cravings, thus making sweet foods less appealing. The sugar blocking effect of Gurmar works very quickly but is not permanent; it is estimated to last up to one hour from the time the herbal supplement is taken.
Gurmar can also block receptors in your intestines and thus sugar absorption, and thus can help in lowering your post-meal blood sugar levels.
While Gurmar gets its fame for lowering blood sugar levels, research shows that it may also influence fat absorption and lipid levels, thereby contributing to a lower risk of heart conditions.
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Also, the beneficial phytochemicals or plant compounds - tannins and saponins - in Gurmar have anti-inflammatory properties that help fight inflammation. The leaves of the plant are considered immunostimulatory, meaning they can regulate the immune system, reducing inflammation.
Gurmar is traditionally consumed as a tea or by chewing its leaves. It can also be ingested in extract, pill or leaf powder form. For the tea, boil the leaves for 5 minutes, then steep them in the boiling water for 15 minutes before drinking it. It has a slightly bitter flavour like most medicinal herbal teas, but it is also intense and earthy.
Gurmar is considered safe for most people, but it should not be taken by children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Moreover, it’s not a substitute for diabetes medication. People on blood-sugar-lowering medications should consult their doctor first.
Another safety precaution is linked to Milkweed allergies. Those who are allergic to milkweed may have a reaction to Gurmar as well.
Controls blood sugar levels
Helps minor digestive complaints and constipation
Aids weight loss
Reduces thirst, dryness and fatigue associated with diabetes
Helps in urinary tract infections and renal problems
Useful in snakebites to remove poison
Improves lipid (fat) levels
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