What Are the Benefits of Gymnema Sylvestre?

Gymnema sylvestre, a tropical herb originating in southern India, has been used for thousands of years to treat type 2 diabetes and several other medical conditions. Today, practitioners of Ayurvedic traditional medicine recommend gymnema as a treatment for high blood sugar, diabetes, high cholesterol, inflammation and obesity. Gymnema is generally regarded as safe and associated with few side effects or drug interactions.

Diabetes Treatment

Ayurvedic practitioners have used gymnema to treat type 2 diabetes for at least 2,000 years. A 2007 systematic review, published by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, examined dozens of peer-reviewed studies to determine the herb’s efficacy as a treatment option for diabetes. The authors of the study concluded that scientific evidence strongly–but not conclusively–supports the use of gymnema as a treatment for type 2 diabetes and high blood sugar.

Binge Eating Disorder

Gymnema sylvestre may offer hope for people suffering from binge eating disorders associated with obesity. Active compounds in gymnema block the taste buds’ ability to perceive sweetness. As a result, people taking gymnema supplements are less likely to overindulge in sugary foods. Additionally, the health information website Drugs.com notes that gymnema can reduce fat deposits in the abdomen, waist and hips.

High Cholesterol

Drugs.com reports that gymnema may help to reduce trigylceride and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels in people with diabetes. This finding is important, since high cholesterol, heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes tend to occur in unison.

About this Author

Juniper Russo Tarascio, a natural health consultant, has been writing professionally since April 2008. Since then, she has published over 1,000 articles for both print-based and online publications. She regularly contributes to eHow.com, LiveSTRONG and other Demand Media publications. Her primary writing interests include health, pets and natural living.