Gymnema: Crush Your Sugar Cravings with This Herb
Dr. Kara's Health Insights

Gymnema: Crush Your Sugar Cravings with This Herb

by DK Kara MD on Mar 22, 2022

Hearing the sentiment, “You’re so sweet” might seem endearing, but did you know you actually run off sweetness?

It’s true. Your body needs energy to function properly, and the most common form of energy comes from glucose.

And when it comes to food, if it tastes sweet, your brain actually prefers that to other foods as a source of energy (14). If your body feels low on energy, you may find yourself craving sugar. 

But then mass production took over, and out came the unhealthy options.

Cakes, pies, cookies, donuts, and candy are the obvious culprits, but didn’t know many of today’s yogurts, condiments, and even whole grain breakfast cereals are loaded with extra sugar (1)?

Why is this a problem?

The Not-So-Sweet Side of Sugar

It might seem innocent enough, but processed, refined sugars are doing some serious damage to your health. Not only are your teeth at risk (think cavities), but it can affect (2):

  • your ability to concentrate
  • your memory
  • your quality of sleep
  • your mood

Not only that, sugar has been observed to have addictive qualities, similar to how drugs are perceived in the brain (15). This can be part of the reason you crave sugar.

Knowing this, it’s important to try and reduce your sugar intake as much as possible. One way to do this is by adding a lovely herb into your diet. An herb called Gymnema Sylvestre.

Why Gymnema

A perennial woody vine that grows in areas of Africa, Asia, and Australia, the Gymnema Sylvestre plant has been used medicinally for centuries. Traditionally, it’s been used as part of Ayurveda medicine for its anti-diabetic properties (3).

Benefits

Western medicine is realizing the benefits of this Eastern herb. The biggest discovery has been how Gymnema produces gymnemic acid, responsible for suppressing sweetness perception (4).

Some others ways it can help are:

  • Make sweet things less appealing: It can block your taste receptors for sweet things, making them less tempting. One study split the subjects into two groups. One group was given an oral dose of Gymnema, and an hour later sweet snacks were presented for them to eat. The group that was given the extract ate less sweets than the control group (4).
  • Weight loss: A big part of weight gain involves eating sweet foods. Gymnema extract has been shown to help both animals and humans lose weight. A study from India took 60 moderately-obese participants and gave theme oral doses of Gymnema extract. After 8 weeks, the participants showed a 5-6% decrease in body weight, with the addition of lowered food intake overall (5).
  • Lower blood sugar levels: Because diabetes is a disease characterized by chronic high blood sugar, it’s vital to find solutions that can help stabilize and lower these levels. With its ability to block the intestinal absorption of glucose, one study showed strong support that, when combined with other diabetic medication, Gymnema can help lower blood sugar levels after meals (6).
  • Increases insulin production: Part of what makes diabetes so harmful is that your body doesn’t produce enough insulin to take care of the extra glucose in your blood. Research shows taking Gymnema can help stimulate your pancreas to produce more insulin (7). This can help bring your blood sugar levels down to a healthy level.
  • Reduces Inflammation: Research shows a notable link between sugar, obesity and inflammation (9). Chronic inflammation in the body can open the door to disease down the road, so keeping sugar levels in check is key. Gymnema leaves also have what are called tannins and saponins, which are plant compounds that contain antioxidant and antibacterial properties (10). Incorporating more of these types of herbs into your diet can help keep inflammation at bay.
  • Improves Cholesterol Levels: In addition to regulating blood sugars, Gymnema seems to be able to lower harmful “LDL” cholesterol and elevate good “HDL” cholesterol. One study observed what happened when animals were given Gymnema leaves in addition to a high-fat diet. After 3 weeks, it was noted that the animals had lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (8). In people, this can lead to better heart health, reducing your risk for heart attack or strokes.

Risks

Because of its blood sugar lowering abilities, taking Gymnema with other diabetic medication might result in dangerously low blood sugar levels (13). If you notice shaking, dizziness, headaches or nausea, discontinue and speak with your doctor.

There is not a lot of information on whether it’s safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding, so caution is advised.

Because of the class and family Gymnema belongs to, those with a milkweed allergy may not tolerate this herb very well.

Dosing

How much Gymnema can you take a day? That depends on which form you prefer to take it (12). The most popular are:

  • Powder: You can start by mixing 2 grams in water each day. As long as you don’t experience any negative side effects, you can increase the amount to 4 grams.
  • Capsule: If capsules are easier for you, consider starting with 100mgs 3 times per day. If all goes well, you can safely increase it to 4 times per day. Exceeding this amount is not recommended.
  • Tea: After boiling Gymnema leaves for about 5 minutes, set aside and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. You could make an iced version as well.Note that whichever method you choose, the best time to take it is 10-15 minutes before you eat a meal or snack that’s higher in sugar.

Conclusion

The human body is designed to run off sugar, but too much of the wrong kind can spell disaster.

In today’s world, processed refined versions are everywhere we look. Diets high in these types of sugars can result in health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and cognitive malfunction.

While the solution is simple, the execution sometimes is not. It takes 21 days to form a habit, and if your goal is to reduce the amount of sugar you eat, it’s going to take time.

One thing that can help is the beautiful Gymnema plant. With its anti-obesity and sugar curbing properties, it’s an excellent way to retrain your body to not depend so much on the sugary foods that are so easily available.

Ready to reduce inflammation, crush your sugar cravings, balance your blood sugar, and maybe even lose some weight? Give Gymnema a try today!

References & Disclaimer

(1) https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/finding-the-hidden-sugar-in-the-foods-you-eat

(2) https://www.texasinstituteforneurologicaldisorders.com/uncategorized/effects-high-sugar-diet-brain/

(3) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18193099/

(4) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6836034/

(5) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15056124/

(6) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27834124/

(7) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22775778/

(8) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11411567/

(9) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21807932/

(10) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5075620/

(11) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3912882/

(12) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/221876373_An_Evidence-Based_Systematic_Review_of_Gymnema_Gymnema_sylvestre_R_Br_by_the_Natural_Standard_Research_Collaboration

(13) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5499308/

(14) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25184369/

(15) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2235907/

✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author