Gudmar / Gurmar / Madhunasini is a perennial woody vine native to tropical Asia, China, the Arabian Peninsula, Africa, and Australia and is well known in Ayurvedic medicine for its medicinal purposes. Gymnema is a climbing plant with elongated, oval leaves that have soft hairs on the top surface. The plant has small, yellow flowers that are produced throughout the year.
The Hindi term for G. sylvestre is Gurmar, which is translated as ‘sugar destroyer‘. The leaves and extracts contain gymnemic acids, the major bioactive constituents that interact with taste receptors on the tongue to temporarily suppress the taste of sweetness. Another reason that G. sylvestre is considered a sugar destroyer is because it is thought to inhibit sugar absorption in the body
- Reduction of sugar intake: G. sylvestre extracts taken in the form of lozenges, mouthwash, or tea diminishes the consumption of sweet foods and overall caloric intake. Extracts (formulated as a mint lozenge) reduced the desire for high-sugar foods and the pleasant taste of candy. Research also suggests that Gymnema sylvestre extracts reduce cravings for sugar. In a double-blind study, participants who received a gymnemic acid lozenge declined candy (before tasting it) more often than the placebo group.
- Diabetes: Early research suggests when a specific gymnema extract (GS4) is taken orally along with insulin or diabetes medications, blood sugar reduction in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes is enhanced.
- Weight loss: In Japan, 50 tons of G. sylvestre leaves are consumed annually for the purpose of weight loss. Early research suggests that taking a specific combination of Gymnema sylvestre extract, hydroxycitric acid, and niacin-bound chromium by mouth for 8 weeks might reduce body weight in people who are overweight or obese.
- Traditional uses: In Eastern and Ayurvedic medicine, G. sylvestre leaves and extracts have been used to treat eye diseases, allergies, constipation, cough, dental caries, obesity, stomach ailments, and viral infections. G. sylvestre has also been used as an antioxidant, antimicrobial, and aphrodisiac.
Cautions: There is not enough clinical research evidence to support the safe use of Gymnema sylvestre during pregnancy, while breastfeeding or for children or infants. Another safety precaution is linked to milkweed allergies. Those who are allergic to milkweed may have a reaction to gudmar as well.
Side effects can occur as a direct result of gymnema’s blood sugar lowering effects, these include:
Headache, Dizziness or lightheadedness, Shakiness, Nausea.