gymnema sylvestre

What Is It?
Health Benefits
Dosage Information
Guidelines for Use
General Interaction
Evidence Based Rating Scale

What Is It?

A member of the milkweed family, Gymnema sylvestre is native to the tropical regions of India. Nicknamed the "sugar destroyer" because the leaves effectively block sweet tastes in the mouth when chewed, the herb is often promoted as an appetite suppressant and weight-loss agent. This claim has no evidence to support it, however. In fact, the capsules sold for this purpose don't even alter the taste in a person's mouth--the leaves need to be chewed directly for this purpose.

Interestingly, generations of people in India with diabetes have successfully chewed the leaves to help control blood sugar. Several small, placebo-controlled trials indicate that gymnema extracts may indeed lower blood sugar levels (1). In those with type 1 diabetes, gymnema seems to enhance the action of insulin.

In the case of the far more prevalent type 2 diabetes--also known as noninsulin-dependent diabetes--research findings indicate that the use of gymnema may improve blood sugar control and result in the need for smaller doses of oral diabetes drugs to control the disease. However, it's critical that people with this disease don't abandon proven ways to manage it, from a healthy diet to regular exercise and medications when needed.

Health Benefits

Many of the investigations of gymnema sylvestre have tested its use as therapy used to treat diabetes. Because of its unique ability to inhibit intestinal absorption of glucose, this herb has been prescribed for thousands of years in India. Currently in the West researchers are studying gynema sylvestre to discern how it works and in what dosages it should be administered. Specifically gymnema sylestre may help to:

·         Control blood sugar levels in diabetes. A review of 108 studies conducted by doctors at Harvard, determined that gymnema sylvestre shows positive preliminary results in its ability control glucose levels in diabetes (2). A smaller non-controlled trial showed that supplementation with a gymnema sylvestre extract helped control blood sugar when used in conjunction with conventional diabetic drugs (3). Other studies are trying to determine which types of diabetes respond best to gymnema sylvestre supplementation (4).

·         Protect against cataracts. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. Gymnema sylvestre may help to protect the lens against sugar-induced cataract (5). Scientists are currently identifying the mechanisms of protection in cell cultures, but preliminary evidence is promising.

·         Reduce high cholesterol. Early animal studies show that a high dose of gymnemic acids increases fecal cholesterol and CA-derived bile acid excretion (6). This early work may one day lead to herbal supplements to benefit those who suffer from high cholesterol. However, more studies are needed to assess this novel new therapy.

·         Aid in weight loss. Since gymnema sylvestre acts to regulate blood sugar levels, it has also been evaluated as a weight loss supplement. An Indian study conducted on 60 obese subjects found that gymnea syvestre facilitated a reduction in excess body weight and BMI, while promoting healthy blood lipid levels when administered for eight weeks (7).

·    Treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and gout. Gymnema sylvestre has been used in traditional medicine systems for centuries to reduce the inflammation of RA and gout (8). While being widely prescribed in south east Asia, more research is needed in the west to determine the proper dosages and treatment courses for these conditions.


·  capsules

·  tea

Dosage Information

·  For diabetes: Take 150mg twice a day.

Be sure to check our Dosage Recommendations Chart for gymnema sylvestre, which lists therapeutic dosages for specific ailments at a glance.

Guidelines for Use

Gymnema sylvestre should not be used as a replacement for conventional diabetes medications. Do not discontinue your prescription medications. Consult your physician if you would like to consider using gymnema sylvestre as an adjunctive diabetes treatment. Your physician can help decide if your condition would be amenable to gymnema sylvestre supplementation.

General Interaction

Gymnema may alter the dosage needed for other drugs commonly used to treat diabetes, including glipizide, metformin, and insulin.

Note: For information on interactions with specific generic drugs, see our WholeHealthMD Drug/Nutrient Interactions Chart.


·  Gymnema has safely been used for decades in various countries. Careful long-term studies on its safety have not been done so far, however.

·  Consult your doctor about your desire to supplement your diabetes regimen with gymnema.

·  Do not discontinue any other medications you are taking for diabetes in lieu of supplementation with gymnema sylvestre. Your condition needs to be controlled closely, with the best case scenario using gymnema sylvestre as an adjunctive therapy to conventional diabetes care.


  1. Grover JK, Yadav S, Vats V. Medicinal plants of India with anti-diabetic potential. J Ethnopharmacol. 2002 Jun;81(1):81-100.
  2. Yeh GY, Eisenberg DM, Kaptchuk TJ, Phillips RS. Systematic review of herbs and dietary supplements for glycemic control in diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2003 Apr;26(4):1277-94.
  3. Baskaran K, Kizar Ahamath B, Radha Shanmugasundaram K, Shanmugasundaram ER. Antidiabetic effect of a leaf extract from Gymnema sylvestre in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus patients. J Ethnopharmacol. 1990 Oct;30(3):295-300.
  4. Gholap S, Kar A. Effects of Inula racemosa root and Gymnema sylvestre leaf extracts in the regulation of corticosteroid induced diabetes mellitus: involvement of thyroid hormones. Pharmazie. 2003 Jun;58(6):413-5.
  5. Moghaddam MS, Kumar PA, Reddy GB, Ghole VS. Effect of Diabecon on sugar-induced lens opacity in organ culture: mechanism of action. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Feb 28;97(2):397-403. Epub 2005 Jan 18.
  6. Nakamura Y, Tsumura Y, Tonogai Y, Shibata T. Fecal steroid excretion is increased in rats by oral administration of gymnemic acids contained in Gymnema sylvestre leaves. J Nutr. 1999 Jun;129(6):1214-22.
  7. Preuss HG, Bagchi D, Bagchi M, Rao CV, Dey DK, Satyanarayana S. Effects of a natural extract of (-)-hydroxycitric acid (HCA-SX) and a combination of HCA-SX plus niacin-bound chromium and Gymnema sylvestre extract on weight loss. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2004 May;6(3):171-80.
  8. Shimizu K, Ozeki M, Tanaka K, Itoh K, Nakajyo S, Urakawa N, Atsuchi M. Suppression of glucose absorption by extracts from the leaves of Gymnema inodorum. J Vet Med Sci. 1997 Sep;59(9):753-7.

Evidence Based Rating Scale 

The Evidence Based Rating Scale is a tool that helps consumers translate the findings of medical research studies with what our clinical advisors have found to be efficacious in their personal practice. This tool is meant to simplify which supplements and therapies demonstrate promise in the treatment of certain conditions. This scale does not take into account any possible interactions with any medication/ condition/ or therapy which you may be currently undertaking. It is therefore advisable to ask your doctor before starting any new treatment regimen.























Anecdotal evidence indicates efficacy as anti-inflammatory. More research is needed to determine proper dosages and treatment options.















Date Published: 04/18/2005
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