For over a thousand years, people living in India have used the leaves of gymnema sylvestre to manage blood sugar levels, and a host of other medicinal purposes. The practice back then was to simply chew the leaves. Today, however, the leaves are commercialized in the form of extracts, teas, capsules and supplements, and should be taken according to the exact suggested gymnema sylvestre dosage.
The gymnema sylvestre plant is a plant found mostly in the southern and central parts of India with lush thickets. Belonging to the Asclepiadaceae family, it is a woody climbing and winding shrub with plenty of branches and tiny oblate leaves. It needs other trees to thrive, and so the continuous deforestation of India has greatly diminished the numbers of this “miracle plant”.
Gymnema sylvestre is also referred to as “periploca of the woods”, “mesbasringi” (which means “ram’s horn” in Sanskrit), or cowplant, and nicknamed “sugar destroyer”.
The herb is said to have chemical contents that “destroy” one’s sense of taste for sugar. For hundreds of years, Ayurvedic practitioners have instructed people to chew the plant’s leaves and as a result, their bitter taste reduces one’s craving for sweets, thus lowering blood sugar levels. This why it is one of the better known herbal cures for Type 2 diabetes.
Also, folk medicine regards the herb as diuretic, astringent, refrigerant, and tonic. Ground gymnema sylvestre leaves were also applied to cure snake bites and allergies.
Although there have not been sufficient scientific studies to prove the therapeutic and medicinal claims of the herb other than its anti-sweet activity, it is now widely commercialized in western countries as teas, extracts and supplements manufactured by well-established companies such as the Active Ingredients Group in China, Himalaya Herbals in India, S&D Chemicals Ltd. in Canada, and Camden-Grey Essential Oils in the US.
Regarding dosage, herbal medicines do not go through scientific measurements to determine the right amount of dosage. The suggested dosages below are based on tradition, which have been proven effective through many years of use and experience.
For adults, aged 18 years and above, the suggested dosage is 200 milligrams of gymnema sylvestre extract twice daily, or if taken as fluid concoction, about 2 milliliters. Some manufacturers recommend 250 milligram capsules twice a day after a meal.
Although there are no known side effects of the herb, it is best for children aged 18 years old and below to stay away from non-prescription medicines. Also, pregnant and lactating women should not use this herb, or any non-prescription medicines without a physician’s advice and supervision.
Needless to say, overdosing is always harmful, even with organic drugs. Since gymnema sylvestre is known to lower sugar levels in the blood, too much of the herb could excessively bring it down to a dangerous level and thereby cause hypoglycemia. In such cases, the user will experience dizziness, confusion, nausea, vomiting and even loss of consciousness.
Also, diabetic patients who are already taking prescription medicine or insulin to lower their blood sugar levels might overdo it upon ingesting gymnema at the same time. It is always best to consult the doctor so that the necessary medication adjustments and appropriate gymnema sylvestre dosage could be made.