Gurmar, also known as Gymnema Sylvestre (G. Sylvestre), is a valuable herb in the Ayurvedic and the Homeopathic system of medicine.
The leaves of G. Sylvestre have been used for over 2000 years for the treatment of diabetes. In addition, the leaves of the plant had also been used in the treatment of various other ailments such as asthma and eye problems.
What is Gurmar/ G Sylvestre?
Gymnema Sylvestre belongs to the family ofAsclepiadaceae. This is a slow growing, perennial, woody climber.It is widely distributed in India, Malaysia, Australia, Sri-Lanka, Indonesia, tropical Africa and some parts of China.
In India, the herb is native of the tropical forests of Central and Southern India.
- The word Gymnema comes from the Hindi word ‘Gurmar’ which means ‘destroyer of sweet’. This name had probably been given to this plant owing to its antidiabetic properties.
- Traditional healers believe that chewing the leaves of G. Sylvestre caused a reversible loss of sweet taste.
- In Tanzanian folk medicine, G. Sylvestre was administered as an aphrodisiac.
- Antidiabetic: The powder of G. Sylvestre is known to be effective in reducing fasting and post meal blood sugar.
- Anti-obesity: Studies have proven that it helps in reducing excess body weight and promote normal lipid levels. G. Sylvestre also suppresses sweet cravings. This may also help in weight loss.
- Hypolipidemic: The leaf extracts of G. Sylvestre may reduce elevated serum triglyceride (TG), total cholesterol (TC), very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Some compounds present in the herb may increase excretion of fats through faeces.
- Antimicrobial: It has been found to have good antimicrobial activity against bacteria such as Bacillus pumilis, B. subtilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa Staphylococcus aureus, and Klebsiella pneumoniae.
- Anti-inflammatory: Animal studies have found G. Sylvestre to be effective in reducing signs of inflammation.
- Anticancer: Many phytochemicals present in G. Sylvestre have been found to show significant anticancer activity.
- Immunostimulatory: The aqueous extracts of G. Sylvestre have stimulatory effects on the immune system which allows the body to fight infections better.
- Diuretic: It has been known to increase the production of urine.
Medical uses of Gurmaar:
1.Diabetes: Gurmar has been found to improve blood sugar levels in diabetics, owing to its following actions:
- Regeneration of insulin producing cells in the pancreas
- Increase secretion of insulin
- Increases utilisation of glucose
Clinical studies have found Gurmar to be effective in patient with both Type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
2.Weight loss: Studies have proven that taking Gurmar extracts for 12 weeks have reduced body weight and body mass index in patients who were overweight.
In traditional Indian healing systems, G. Sylvestre has been used to treat:
- Chronic Cough
- Breathing troubles
- Eye complaints
- Digestive Problems
- Urinary Problems
- Liver and spleen enlargement.
Using Gurmar Safely:
Side effects and Precautions:
G.Sylvestre has been found to be safe with no potential adverse reactions even after 20 months of use. However, one needs to be careful while taking G. Sylvestre in the following conditions:
- Diabetes: G. Sylvestre has the potential to lower blood sugar levels. Therefore, diabetics, especially those on medications must take only the recommended doses. Having high doses can lead to hypoglycaemia.
- Surgery: Sylvestre can alter your blood sugar levels and interfere with blood sugar control. Therefore, you must stop using G. Sylvestre 2 weeks before scheduled surgery.
- Antidiabetic medications: G. Sylvestre can potentiate the effects of antidiabetics and cause dangerous drop in blood sugar levels. Therefore, people taking antidiabetic drugs should only take G. Sylvestre as prescribed by the physician and also frequently monitor blood sugar levels.
- Anti-lipidemic agents: G. Sylvestre can also potentiate the effects of antilipidemic drugs (drugs that lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood). Therefore, people taking antilipidemic drugs should only take G. Sylvestre as prescribed by the physician.
G.Sylvestre is available in powder, paste and solid form. The recommended dosage of G. Sylvestre is
- Liquid extract: 25-75ml/week for 6-12 months;
- Tablet: 8-12 grams per day.
G.Sylvestre is also a part of important Ayurvedic preparations like Ayaskri, Varunadi Kasaya, Varunadighrtam, and Mahakalyanakaghrtam.
The recommended dosage may vary from person to person. Therefore, individual herbs or their compound formulations must be taken as recommended by the physician.