Science, medicine and politics are all failing to come to grips with the ever rising number of diabetics in America. But using the blood sugar controlling herb gymnema sylvestre for diabetes may help with its treatment.
It’s possible taking gymnema with its active ingredient gymnemic acid may even assist in preventing those at risk from becoming diabetic in the first place.
In the USA, the cost of treating diabetes has risen from $174 billion in 2007 to $245 billion in 2012 – a 40% increase in just five years. If this upward trends of diabetes diagnosis continues, it’s estimated that a full half of all Americans will either be pre diabetic or diabetic by the year 2020.
Gymnema for Diabetes
Gymnema sylvestre is a herb native to Asia that has being used medicinally for thousands of years in India. It’s Hindi or Ayurvedic name Gurmar means ‘destroyer of sugar’ and it has some unusually beneficial properties for treating diabetes.
One of the primary active ingredients in gymnema sylvestre is gymnemic acid. This unique compound is very similar structurally to glucose, but does not act like it within your body.
Instead, when consumed before ingesting sugary foods or drink, gymnemic acid molecules actually block the receptor locations for sugar on your taste buds. This stops sugar activating these receptors and can greatly curb sugar cravings.
Gymnemic acid can also block sugar absorption in the intestine and often results in lower blood sugar levels after a meal.
Even more promising, studies report that gymnemic acid increases the production of insulin, improves glucose utilization and may even help to regenerate islet beta cells within the pancreas which produce insulin.
Another study concluded: ‘Gymnema sylvestre supplementation appears to improve glucose control in patients with type II diabetes. Reducing postprandial blood glucose significantly caused a decrease of HbA1c (Average Blood Glucose), therefore reducing the complications of diabetes.’
Gymnema Sylvestre Diabetic Treatment Dosage
Research on gymnema sylvestre is generally done with 500 mg capsules standardized to contain at least 25% gymnemic acid like these. They should be taken 5 to 10 minutes before a main meal with a large glass of water.
Another option is to use a time release gymnemic acid supplement like these Glucose Balance tablets, which were actually the gymnema sylvestre supplement used in the second study mentioned above.
How to Make Gymnema Tea
While supplements do provide a standardized dose, many people like myself prefer natural products to get the full range of compounds in the herbal treatment.
Gymnema tea is the more traditional way to take gymnema sylvestre. It makes sense that by drinking the herb as a tea you’d give it a chance to block the sugar receptors on your tongue directly (some resources recommend sucking on tablets for a short time before swallowing them for a similar effect).
Loose leaf organic gymnema tea is available and better value in bulk. To make up a cup, simply add a heaped teaspoon to a French press or tea strainer and add hot water. Other tea can also be added, like green tea which has its own beneficial properties for weight loss.
Potential Gymnema Side Effects for Diabetics
While gymnema is considered safe for most people and there are no commonly listed side effects of gymnema Sylvestre, it has been reported to sometimes work too well and lower blood sugar a bit too far. It’s especially recommended for diabetics to keep within the suggested doses, whether you’re using the supplements or the tea.
People currently taking diabetes medication should consult a doctor before using gymnema sylvestre and avoid taking it right at the same time as prescription drugs or when administering insulin injections. It may be that it reduces your need for such treatments.
It’s also not recommended for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding and those on antidepressant medication. Additionally it shouldn’t be taken at the same time as aspirin or the herb St. John’s wort as they may increase its blood sugar lowering effects.