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Gymnema Sylvestre and Diabetes

Common Names: Gurmari, Gurmarbooti, Gurmar, periploca of the woods, meshasring.

Gymnema sylvestre is a woody climbing plant that grows in the tropical forests of central and southern India. The leaves lamina is ovate, elliptic or ovate-lanceolate, with both surfaces pubescent. The flowers are small bell-shaped yellow color. The leaves of gurmar are used medicinally, for its unique property to directly mask the tongue’s ability to taste sweet foods; at the same time suppresses glucose absorption from the intestine. This is the reason it is known in Hindi as gurmar, or "destroyer of sugar".

The hypoglycemic extract of Gymnema sylvestris brings about blood glucose homeostasis, which in turn prevents increased glycosylation of proteins thus reversing the onset of changes leading to micro and macroangiopathy. Control of Diabetes mellitus and the associated complications are mediated through the revival or regeneration of the insulin, producing beta-cells in the islets of langerhans. The glucose-like molecules in Gurmar known as the gymnemic acid fills the receptor locations in the absorptive external layers of the intestine, thereby preventing the intestine from absorbing the sugar molecules. Due to the change in the absorption level of sugar, there is a consequent change in the blood sugar level.

The principle active ingredient is Gymnemic acid. The other compounds found were Calcium oxalate, anthraquinone compound, Tartaric acid, cellulose, ash, quercitol but no tannin was found. On further study, when the gymnemic acid was purified and analyzed, it was found not to possess any anti-sacaharine properties; it was not a glucoside.

Important Research and opinions on Gymnema sylvestre and diabetes.

National Institute of Health on Gymnema sylvestre controlling weight
Gymnema sylvestre is regarded as one of the plants with potent anti diabetic properties. This plant is also used for controlling obesity in the form of Gymnema tea. The active compound of the plant is a group of acids termed as gymnemic acids. It has been observed that there could be a possible link between obesity, Gymnemic acids and diabetes. This review will try to put forth an overall idea about the plant as well as present a molecular perspective linking the common medicine to the most common metabolic disorders.

Gymnema Sylvestre A1c Test
In a study conducted by Diabetes Educators, under the protocols established by Diabetes in Control and Informulab of Omaha, NE Gymnema Sylvestre was found to lower HbA1c from 10.1% to 9.3% This ninety day study conducted by a group of your peers showed these results in 65 patients. The patients were given a supplement of Gymnema Sylvestre containing 400mg GS leaf extract (standardized to 25%) per tablet twice daily. Patients varied from diet controlled to insulin dependent and age varied form 18 to 73 years old.

It is interesting to note that at higher starting A1c Values the positive results were profound. In the group that started at 9% or above, HbA1c was lowered from 10.1% to 9.3%(0.8% decrease). In the poorest pre-study group, those with an A1c above 10% the Gymnema Sylvestre supplementation lowered HbA1c from
11.1% to 9.9% (1.2% decrease).

Gymnema sylvestre triglycerides and bad cholesterol.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) find “good scientific evidence” that Gymnema sylvestre can be helpful in controlling blood sugar levels in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes when used in conjunction with insulin and other medications as prescribed by a doctor. It is important that people with existing blood sugar issues talk to their doctors before adding Gymnema sylvestre to their diet, as insulin or other medications may need to be reduced. Supporters claim the herb also lowers triglycerides and “bad cholesterol.” The NLM and NIH acknowledge that preliminary human studies with patients having type 2 diabetes tend to back this claim, but believe stronger research is required before a determination can be positively made.

Independent Study
The effectiveness of GS4, an extract from the leaves of Gymnema sylvestre, in controlling hyperglycemia was investigated in 22 Type 2 diabetic patients on conventional oral anti-hyperglycemic agents. GS4 (400 mg/day) was administered for 18-20 months as a supplement to the conventional oral drugs. During GS4 supplementation, the patients showed a significant reduction in blood glucose, glycosylated haemoglobin and glycosylated plasma proteins, and conventional drug dosage could be decreased. Five of the 22 diabetic patients were able to discontinue their conventional drug and maintain their blood glucose homeostasis with GS4 alone. These data suggest that the beta cells may be regenerated/repaired in Type 2 diabetic patients on GS4 supplementation. This is supported by the appearance of raised insulin levels in the serum of patients after GS4 supplementation.

On Going Study
Low concentrations of the novel Gymnema sylvestre isolate stimulate insulin secretion in-vitro without compromising pancreatic beta cell viability, unlike the commonly used GS-4 standardized Gymnema sylvestre extract. Ayurvedic-Life's novel Gymnema sylvestre isolate has the ability to stimulate insulin secretion similar to sulphonylureas and meglitinide analogues that are currently used for the treatment oftype 2 diabetes. Read More at

Gymnema Sylvestre on Wikipedia
While it is still being studied, and the effects of the herb are not entirely known, the herb has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels when used for an extended period of time. Additionally, Gymnema reduces the taste of sugar when it is placed in the mouth, thus some use it to fight sugar cravings. From extract of the leaves were isolated glycosides known as Gymnemic acids, which exhibit anti-sweet activity
In 2005, a study made by King’s College, London, United Kingdom, showed that a water-soluble extract of Gymnema Sylvestre, caused reversible increases in intracellular calcium and insulin secretion in mouse and human β-cells when used at a concentration (0.125 mg/ml) without compromising cell viability. Hence forth these data suggest that extracts derived from Gymnema Sylvestre may be useful as therapeutic agents for the stimulation of insulin secretion in individuals with T2DM.[2]

University of Madras on HbA1C
GS4, a water-soluble extract of the leaves of Gymnema sylvestre, was administered (400 mg/day) to 27 patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) on insulin therapy. Insulin requirements came down together with fasting blood glucose and glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) and glycosylated plasma protein levels. While serum lipids returned to near normal levels with GS4 therapy, glycosylated haemoglobin and glycosylated plasma protein levels remained higher than controls. IDDM patients on insulin therapy only showed no significant reduction in serum lipids, HbA1c or glycosylated plasma proteins when followed up after 10-12 months. GS4 therapy appears to enhance endogenous insulin, possibly by regeneration/revitalisation of the residual beta cells in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus

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