Gymnema sylvestre gum is being promoted as a weight loss aid that reduces sugar cravings. While there is some preliminary research concerning the supposed gymnema sylvestre sugar craving reduction power, to date no clinical trials have shown its effectiveness in human beings.
Gymnema sylvestre is one of the herbs that have been used in Ayurvedic Medicine, practiced widely throughout India, to treat diabetes. However, herbs and botanicals are only one part of a complete treatment plan that Ayurvedic practitioners would suggest for a diabetic patient.
This ancient form of medicine focuses on healing body, mind and spirit, using meditation, relaxation techniques, dietary guidelines, exercise regimens, aroma therapies, massage therapies, herbs, botanicals and other naturally healing therapies.
Advertisements for gymnema sylvestre gum are somewhat misleading, in that they reference the use of the herb in Ayurvedic Medicine, but fail to mention that it is only one herb that has been used and is only a small part of a complete treatment plan for any condition. Consumers should beware of claims that seem "too good to be true", because they probably are.
Advertisers also mention the scientific research concerning gymnema sylvestre sugar craving reduction, but fail to mention the details. To date, all of the research has been conducted using laboratory animals or by evaluating the components in the herb. There have been no clinical trials, only a history of traditional use. But, traditional healers use the herb, not gymnema sylvestre gum, which contains an extract from the leaf.
The preliminary research does seem promising. Scientists have shown that, in laboratory animals, gymnema sylvestre "inhibits responses to sweet substances in rodents". One component of the herb inhibits the absorption of oleic acid, one of the omega-9 fatty acids found in vegetable oil, animal fat, olive oil and other sources of dietary fat. In animal models fed a diet containing the extract, there was a decrease in weight, total cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar levels.
While there has been much research showing that gymnema sylvestre and other plants can lower blood sugar levels, there is no clear evidence supporting gymnema sylvestre sugar craving reduction. It appears that the herb may block the ability to "taste" sugar, but whether or not that would reduce cravings in humans is unknown.
A combination of botanical extracts including Banaba, bitter melon and other "anti-diabetic" herbs will probably be more effective than gymnema sylvestre gum alone. To learn more about natural anti-diabetic compounds, please visit the Diabetes Type Two Info Guide.