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, gurmar, means "destroyer of sugar."

Today, gymnema is used for diabetes, metabolic syndrome, weight loss, and cough. It is also used for malaria and as a snake bite antidote, digestive stimulant, laxative, appetite suppressant, and diuretic.

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 suggests that taking a specific gymnema extract (GS4) by mouth, in combination with insulin or diabetes medications, can enhance blood sugar reduction in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
  • Weight loss. Early research suggests that taking a specific combination of gymnema extract, hydroxycitric acid, and niacin-bound chromium by mouth for 8 weeks might reduce body weight in people who are overweight or obese.
  • Metabolic syndrome.
  • Stimulating digestion.
  • Malaria.
  • Cough.
  • Snake bites.
  • Softening the stool (laxative).
  • Increasing urine excretion (diuretic).
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 used 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 affect 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 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.

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

Gemnema Melicida, Gimnema, Gur-Mar, Gurmar, Gurmarbooti, Gymnema montanum, Gymnema sylvestre, Gymnéma, Gymnéma Sylvestre, Madhunashini, Merasingi, Meshashringi, Miracle Plant, Periploca sylvestris, Shardunika, 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 - 02/14/2015