Pharma Tips

A Review on Gymnema sylvestre R. Br.

By: Pharma Tips | Views: 6662 | Date: 01-May-2011

Gymnema sylvestre R. Br. is a woody, vine-like plant which climbs on bushes and trees in the Western Ghats in South India and to the west of those mountains in the territory around the coastal city of Goa. It came to be known as “destroyer of sugar” because, in ancient times, Ayurvedic physicians observed that chewing a few leaves of Gymnema suppressed the taste of sugar.

[1] Introduction
             Gymnema sylvestre R. Br. is a woody, vine-like plant which climbs on bushes and trees in the Western Ghats in South India and to the west of those mountains in the territory around the coastal city of Goa. It came to be known as “destroyer of sugar” because, in ancient times, Ayurvedic physicians observed that chewing a few leaves of Gymnema suppressed the taste of sugar.
           G. sylvestre is a plant used in India and parts of Asia as a natural treatment for diabetes or “sweet urine.” The herb’s active ingredient, gymnemic acid, is extracted from leaves and roots and helps to lower and balance blood sugar levels.

  


[1.1] History

            Indian physicians first used Gymnema to treat diabetes almost 2,000 years ago. The primary application was for adult-onset diabetes, a condition for a condition once described as “honey urine” and is continued to be recommended today in India. The leaves were also used for stomach ailments, constipation, water retention and liver disease. In the 1920s, preliminary scientific studies found some evidence that Gymnema leaves can reduce blood sugar levels, but nothing much came of this observation for decades.

            Today, Gymnema has become increasingly popular in the United States as a supportive treatment for diabetes7. The leaves are used in herbal medicine preparations8-10. The leaves, when chewed, interfere with the ability to taste sweetness, which explains the Hindi name gurmar:"destroyer of sugar." In India, there is a locally descended medical science with the history of 2,000 years called "AYURVEDA" in which all treatments are done with natural materials.

[1.2] Description
           Gymnema is a climbing plant that grows in the tropical forests of central and southern India. The woody Gymnema plant also grows in parts of Africa. Leaves of this long, slender plant have been used for more than 2,000 years in India to treat diabetes. Gymnema is also known as gurmar, gurmabooti, periploca of the woods, and meshasringi (ram's horn). Large climbers, rooting at nodes, leaves elliptic, acuminate, base acute to acuminate, glabrous above sparsely or densely tomentose beneath; Flowers small, in axillary and lateral umbel like cymes, pedicels long; Calyx-lobes long, ovate, obtuse, pubescent; Corolla pale yellow campanulate, valvate, corona single, with 5 fleshy scales. Scales adnate to throat of corolla tube between lobes; Anther connective produced into a membranous tip, pollinia2, erect, carpels2, unilocular; locules many ovuled; Follicle long, fusiform

[1.3] Geographical Source
Gymnema is a woody climbing plant that grows in the tropical forests of central and southern India. The woody Gymnema plant also grows in parts of Africa. G. sylvestre, a family of Asclepiadaceae, is a perennial plant originated in India.

[1.4] Synonyms

•    Common names: Gurmarbooti, Gurmar
•    Botanical name: Gymnema sylvestre
•    Family Name: Asclepiadaceae
•    Latin name: Gymnema sylvestre Roxb.
•    English name: Ram's Horn
•    Sanskrit / Indian name: Gurmar, Meshashringi

[1.5] Taxonomical Classification

•    Kingdom: Plantae
•    Division:Magnoliophyta
•    Class:Magnoliopsida
•    Order:Gentianales
•    Family:Asclepiadaceae
•    Genus:Gymnema
•    Species:sylvestre

[1.6] Traditional Use:

            Indian physicians first used Gymnema to treat diabetes almost 2,000 years ago. In the 1920s, preliminary scientific studies found some evidence that Gymnema leaves can reduce blood sugar levels, but nothing much came of this observation for decades. Today, Gymnema has become increasingly popular in the United States as a supportive treatment for diabetes. The leaves of G. sylvestre have been used for centuries in the traditional Indian system of Ayurvedic medicine. Gymnema has been used in India for the treatment of diabetes for over 2,000 years8,9. The leaves were also used for stomach ailments, constipation, water retention and liver    disease. The term "destroyer of sugar" is traditional used for Gymnema chewing the leaves will abolish the taste of sweetness.

            G. sylvestre has been used for thousands of years and has proven over time to be a non-toxic remedy. It is used for many conditions including diabetes, digestion, urinary tract problems, obesity, hypoglycemia, allergies, anemia, cholesterol and    hyperactivity. The leaves are also noted for lowering serum cholesterol and triglycerides.

            Gymnema has been suggested for many other uses, based on tradition or on scientific theories. However, these uses have not been thoroughly studied in humans, and there is limited scientific evidence about safety or effectiveness. Some of these suggested uses are for conditions that are potentially serious and even life-threatening. You should consult a health care provider before using Gymnema for any unproven    use. Aphrodisiac, Cardiovascular    disease, Cholesterol reduction, Constipation, Cough, Digestive, stimulant, Diuretic, Gout, High     blood pressure,     Liver    disease, Liver protection, Malaria, Obesity , Rheumatic    arthritis, Snakebite    antidote, Stomach disorders, Uterine stimulant.

           G.     sylvestre    has    been    widely    used    in    India    for  years. Its preparations have profound actions on    the    modulating    taste,    particularly    suppressing sweettaste sensations. It has been believed that G. sylvestre has benefits of anti-allergic, antiviral and lipid lowering activities. Gymnema may also offer health    benefits for people suffered from diabetes mellitus. With very limited information, chemicals    of G. sylvestre are believed to be able to lower the sugar available in the stomach for absorption, raise the insulin levels and block the dietary fat absorption.

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