What is Gymnema Sylvestre?

Gymnema Sylvestre is a plant, which grows in the tropical forests of central and southern India. Gymnema is also known as Asclepias geminata, Gymnema melicida, and Pinus sylvestris.

What are its uses?
The plant is used in traditional medicine, most notably to control blood sugar. The use of Gymnema as a lipid-lowering agent, for weight loss, and to prevent cavities has also been investigated, primarily in animal studies. However, little to no clinical information is available to support the use of Gymnema for any indication.

How to take Gymnema?
Gymnema can be taken in several forms such as capsules, tincture, powder, or tea. It is important to always look for a product standardized to contain at least 25% gymnemic acid. If taken in capsule form, possibly the most convenient way, the recommended dosage is 100 mg taken three to four times a day. Avoid taking it on an empty stomach and have it with food instead as Gymnema may cause digestive discomfort.

Taking Gymnema is generally safe however women who are pregnant or lactating, and people with an allergy to milkweed should avoid it. Also, people on anti-diabetic medication should take it with caution as a cumulative blood-sugar-lowering effect may occur. It is advised to always consult a qualified herbalist before taking Gymnema or any herbal supplements in general.

Is Gymnema right for me?
Nowadays, most of us are aware of the benefits of avoiding refined sugar, since the latter has been linked to the development of conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and PCOS amongst others. Having a balanced diet with protein, healthy fats, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates in every meal, while avoiding refined sugar, is key to maintaining your insulin and blood sugar levels stable. However, if you have a sweet spot for sweets, it becomes more difficult to maintain a refined sugar-free or low sugar diet. That is when Gymnema, together with a healthy diet and regular exercise, may become your best friend, giving you the willpower you need to keep away from those mid-afternoon biscuits.

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