Gymnema (Gymnema sylvestre)


Gymnema Overview:

Gymnema is known as "the sugar destroyer" because after chewing the leaves, the tongue is no longer able to taste sweet flavours.

It's been used for thousands of years in India for treating conditions involving "sweet urine". This is a common symptom of diabetes as sugar diffuses intot he urinary tract. Old methods of diagnosis involved tasting the urine to identify a sweet taste.

Gymnema offers a variety of unique benefits towards conditions like diabetes, including changes to the pancreatic beta-cells, responsible for releasing insulin into the blood.

Gymnema is also a diuretic, helping to clear glucose from the blood through urine (in combination with plenty of water of course).

Finally, gymnema leaves inhibit the sweet sensation on the taste buds, maing food taste blnd and dull, which can be used to reduce the cravings for sweet (high sugar) foods responsible for maintaining the pathophysiology of diabetes and metabolic syndromes like PCOS, and metabolic syndrome.


+ Indications

  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Tooth infection
  • PCOS
  • Hypertriglyceridemia

+ Contraindications

  • Caution advised with hypoglycemic drugs

+ Mechanisms

  • Inreases the number of insulin-secreting beta cells in the pancreas
  • Decreases the perception of sweet taste on the taste buds
  • Inhibits peripheral utilization of glucose by somatotrophin and corticotrophin.

Main Herbal Actions:

  • Antidiabetic
  • Hypocholesterolemic
  • Suppresses Sweet Taste
  • Diuretic
  • Refridgerant
  • Astringent

How Do I Use Gymnema?

Gymnema is mainly used to treat metabolic conditions like diabetes and metabolic syndrome. It's also used for dental carries, and poor digestion.


Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Leaves

Family Name

  • Apocynaceae


  • Southeast Asia

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Constituents of Interest

  • Gymnemic acids
  • Gymnemasaponins
  • Gurmarin
  • Betaine

Common Names

  • Gymnema
  • The Sugar Destroyer
  • Gurmar


  • CYP3A4
  • CYP2C9
  • CYP1A2
  • CYP2D6


  • Unknown


  • No adverse effects expected.


  • Dull (Blocks sweet receptors on the tongue)

Duration of Use

  • Suitable for long term use.

Botanical Info:

Gymnema is a member of the Apocynaceae (dogbane) family of plants. It was formerly included in the milkweed (Asclepiadaceae) family, however, this has since beenchanged to a subfamily category. The Apocynaceae family now contains 5 subfamilies (Apocynoideae, Asclepiadoideae, Periplocoideae, Rauvolfioideae, and Secamonoideae). It contains 5100 species, and 366 genera. There are roughly 50 different species of Gymnema, many of which are used interchangeably.

Many plants in the Apocynaceae family are trees preferring tropical environments, however, some will also grow in deserts.


Research Overview:

Still compiling research.


Clinical Applications Of Gymnema:

Gymnema is mainly used for metabolic conditions including hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, metabolic syndrome, PCOS, hypertriglyceridemia, and both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It's diuretic, and increases the number of pancreatic beta cells. Additionally, it eliminates the ability to taste sweetness after cheing the leaves, helping to gradually reduce cravings and prevent high sugar intake in habituated individuals.



High saponins may cause gastrointestinal upset, caution advised with high doses.

Caution advised if taking hypoglyemic medication due to agonistic interaction.



Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated November 2018)


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