If you are wondering what is gymnema sylvestre, wonder no more. Gymnema sylvestre is a medicinal herb that thrives in southern and central India. For centuries, people in India have used it to treat diabetes. Somehow, it seems that people of old, especially medicine-men and spiritual leaders, had ways to detect which plants have medicinal and therapeutic properties. For some reason this plant is named like a human, but it goes by some other names, such as cowplant, Australian cowplant, or Periploca of the woods. Some refer to it as sugar destroyer, miracle fruit, or merical fruit. In India it’s called gur-mar or merasingi.
The gymnema herb reaches and is commercialized in the United States mostly in the form of extracts, teas and supplements. So if you have not seen the actual plant, it is a climber, a twining shrub with many branches. It has tiny green-yellowish flowers that bloom from August to March, and bears fruit in winter. The leaves are oblong and with a rounded base. It is the leaves that are used as medicine and were, in fact, considered a very important herbal medicine for years in India. In ancient times, medicine-men instructed his patients to chew the sweet and bitter leaves to cure diabetes.
The herb grows wild in forests, jungles and thickets. It naturally grows in India, specifically in Bihat, Central India, Konkan, and Western Ghats.
Recent studies only proved what ancient people in India already knew: that gymnema sylvestre has stimulating, laxative and diuretic properties that are very good in treating cough, sore eyes, and infections. Some said it could also treat stomach, urinary, and other eye problems.
Another way of taking the leaves is in the form of powder, which gives out a pleasant aromatic fragrance. The powder is said to stimulate the heart, improve circulation, aid urination, and activate the uterus. An ancient tribe in Central India prepared a special herbal mix of gymnema sylvestre with other well-known herbs such as fenugreek, gudmar, arjuna, gokshura, harra and chitrak. They said the concoction is a powerful treatment for diabetes and other stress-related illnesses.
Today, herbalists claim that gymnema sylvestre can do a lot more. It is said to take away the bad smell of breast milk, remove phlegm, ease insect bites, and treat a number of illnesses such as piles, asthma, bronchitis, conjunctivitis, constipation, cough, dyspepsia, fever, and jaundice. Modern science wonders about the possibility that the herb could truly perform a number of many cures, and so after a few studies, it was determined that the leaves contain resins, tartaric acid, butyric acid, and inositol, to name a few chemicals. But as for all herbal medicines, there are still not enough research findings to back up the herb’s therapeutic claims. Gymnema is now widely manufactured in the US through a number companies, which include Amitco International Botanical and Nutritional Division, Camden-Grey Essential Oils, Christina’s Body and Fitness, and Philly Pharmacy, among others.
Western doctors still ask the question, “What is gymnema sylvestre?” and look down upon the herb. Yet, patients that have already benefitted from it for centuries in other parts of the world don’t mind if western medicine continues to doubt the efficacy of the herb, as long as they know and feel the patent benefits of the plant themselves.