Gymnema sylvestre

Gymnema sylvestre

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Common name: Gurmar, Cow plant, Australian cowplant, periploca of the woods, small Indian ipecacuanha
Bengali: মেষশৃঙ্গ meshashrunga
Gujarati: ગુડમાર gudmar, મધુનાશિની madhunashini
Hindi: गुड़मार gurmar
Kannada: ಮಧುನಾಶಿನಿ madhunashini
Konkani: कौळी kawli
Malayalam: ചക്കരക്കൊല്ലി cakkarakkolli
Marathi: बेडकीचा पाला bedakicha pala, गुडमार gudmar
Oriya: ଲକ୍ଷ୍ମୀ lakshmi, ମେଣ୍ଢା ଶିଙ୍ଗିଆ mendhasingia, ନାଗପୁଷ୍ପୀ nagapushpi
Sanskrit: मधुनाशिनी madhunashini
Tamil: சிறுகுறிஞ்சா cirukurinca, கோகிலம் kokilam
Telugu: :పొడపత్రి podapatri
 • Urdu: sa si nga, sa sri ngi
Botanical name: Gymnema sylvestre     
Family: Asclepiadaceae (Milkweed family)
Synonyms: Asclepias geminata, Gymnema humile, Gymnema parvifolium

Gymnema sylvestre

Gurmar, also known as gymnema, is native to the tropical forests of southern and central India and Sri Lanka. The herb is a slow-growing, perennial climber with elliptical leaves and small, yellow flowers. The medicinal part of the plant is the leaf, which reduces or eliminates the ability to perceive sweetness. For instance, after eating gurmar, a banana can taste like a bland, overcooked vegetable. This is due to the presence of compounds, known as gymnemic acids, which bind to taste receptors on the tongue.  This effect has been known for centuries – the Hindi name gurmar translates as “destroyer of sugar.” Studies have also found these gymnemic acids exhibit anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory activities.

Used for:
Gurmar is an herb used in Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medical system of India, for treating diabetes, constipation and minor digestive complaints. It is also used to facilitate weight loss.
Studies of gurmar are primarily from India. The focus of these studies is on certain compounds found in the herb, called gymnemic acids, which have been shown to decrease the absorption of sugar from the intestines. These compounds may also increase insulin levels in the body. One study using 400 mg of a water-soluble fraction of gurmar leaves for 18 to 20 months found that patients with diabetes were able to decrease their dose of prescription diabetes medication due to reduction in blood sugar. Five of the patients were able to discontinue use of conventional diabetic medicine entirely, and maintain their healthy blood glucose levels.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCD) states there is developing research suggesting an extract of gurmar, in combination with diabetic medications, can moderate blood sugar levels in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. However, there is insufficient evidence to make specific claims as to the effectiveness of gurmar at this time.

Herb /drug interactions:
Gurmar may increase insulin levels in the body, thus decreasing blood sugar. Closely monitor your blood sugar if you use gurmar in combination with blood sugar and diabetes medications, as it may cause an unsafe blood sugar balance in the body.

Other safety concerns:
The NMCD states gurmar appears safe to use for up to 20 months when used appropriately. There is insufficient information available regarding use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding – avoid using when pregnant or nursing.

For lowering blood sugar, take 400 mg per day of extract or one to two grams per day of the dried leaf.