URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/841.html

Gymnema

What is it?

Gymnema is a woody climbing shrub native to India and Africa. The leaves are used to make medicine. Gymnema has a long history of use in India's Ayurvedic medicine. The Hindi name for gymnema means "destroyer of sugar."

People use gymnema for diabetes, weight loss, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for GYMNEMA are as follows:

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • Diabetes. Early research shows that taking gymnema by mouth along with insulin or diabetes medications can improve blood sugar control in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
  • Metabolic syndrome. Early research shows that taking gymnema for 12 weeks can reduce body weight and body mass index in overweight people with metabolic syndrome. But gymnema does not appear to help with blood sugar control or improve cholesterol levels in these people.
  • Weight loss. Early research shows that taking gymnema for 12 weeks can reduce body weight and body mass index in some people who are overweight. Early research also shows that taking a combination of gymnema, hydroxycitric acid, and niacin-bound chromium by mouth can reduce body weight in people who are overweight or obese.
  • Cough.
  • Increasing urine excretion (diuretic).
  • Malaria.
  • Metabolic syndrome.
  • Snake bites.
  • Softening the stool (laxative).
  • Stimulating digestion.
More evidence is needed to rate gymnema for these uses.

How does it work?

Gymnema contains substances that decrease the absorption of sugar from the intestine. Gymnema may also increase the amount of insulin in the body and increase the growth of cells in the pancreas, which is the place in the body where insulin is made.

Are there safety concerns?

Gymnema is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately for up to 20 months.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking gymnema if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Diabetes: Gymnema can lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use gymnema.

Surgery: Gymnema might affect blood sugar levels and could interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgical procedures. Stop using gymnema at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Are there interactions with medications?

Moderate
Be cautious with this combination.
Insulin
Gymnema might decrease blood sugar. Insulin is also used to decrease blood sugar. Taking gymnema along with insulin might cause your blood sugar to be too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your insulin might need to be changed.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Gymnema might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking gymnema along with some medications that are changed and broken down by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking gymnema, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications that are changed by the liver include clozapine (Clozaril), cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), fluvoxamine (Luvox), haloperidol (Haldol), imipramine (Tofranil), mexiletine (Mexitil), olanzapine (Zyprexa), pentazocine (Talwin), propranolol (Inderal), tacrine (Cognex), theophylline, zileuton (Zyflo), zolmitriptan (Zomig), and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Gymnema might change how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking gymnema along with some medications that are changed and broken down by the liver might change the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking gymnema, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications that are changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), diazepam (Valium), zileuton (Zyflo), celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Voltaren), fluvastatin (Lescol), glipizide (Glucotrol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), irbesartan (Avapro), losartan (Cozaar), phenytoin (Dilantin), piroxicam (Feldene), tamoxifen (Nolvadex), tolbutamide (Tolinase), torsemide (Demadex), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
Gymnema supplements seem to lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking gymnema along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
Phenacetin
The body breaks down phenacetin to get rid of it. Gymnema might decrease how quickly the body breaks down phenacetin. Taking gymnema while taking phenacetin might increase the effects and side effects of phenacetin. Before taking gymnema, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking phenacetin.
Tolbutamide
The body breaks down tolbutamide to get rid of it. Gymnema might increase how quickly the body breaks down tolbutamide. Taking gymnema while taking tolbutamide might decrease the effects of tolbutamide. Before taking gymnema, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking tolbutamide.
Minor
Be watchful with this combination.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Gymnema might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking gymnema along with some medications that are changed by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking gymnema, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications that are changed by the liver include lovastatin (Mevacor), clarithromycin (Biaxin), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), diltiazem (Cardizem), estrogens, indinavir (Crixivan), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar
Gymnema extract might lower blood sugar. Using it with other herbs and supplements that have this same effect might increase the risk of low blood sugar in some people. Some of these products include alpha-lipoic acid, bitter melon, chromium, devil's claw, fenugreek, garlic, guar gum, horse chestnut, Panax ginseng, psyllium, Siberian ginseng, and others.
Oleic acid
Gymnema might decrease the body's absorption of oleic acid.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

The appropriate dose of gymnema depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for gymnema. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Other names

Australian Cowplant, Chi geng teng, Gemnema Melicida, Gimnema, Gur-Mar, Gurmar, Gurmarbooti, Gurmur, Gymnema sylvestre, Gymnéma, Gymnéma Sylvestre, Madhunashini, Merasingi, Meshasring, Meshashringi, Miracle Plant, Periploca sylvestris, Periploca of the woods, Shardunika, Waldschlinge, Vishani.

Methodology

To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.

References

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Last reviewed - 06/15/2018