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What is it?

Gymnema (Gymnema sylvestre) is a plant native to India and Africa with a history of use in Ayurvedic medicine. It has little evidence of health benefits.

Gymnema contains chemicals that reduce how much sugar the stomach absorbs. It might also increase the amount of insulin in the body and increase the growth of cells in the pancreas, which is where the body makes insulin.

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

How effective is it?

There is interest in using gymnema for a number of purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.

Is it safe?

When taken by mouth: Gymnema is possibly safe when taken appropriately for up to 20 months.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if gymnema is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

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

Are there interactions with medications?

Be cautious with this combination.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Gymnema might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.
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 these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
Gymnema might lower blood sugar levels. Taking gymnema along with diabetes medications might cause blood sugar to drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely.
Gymnema might decrease how quickly the body breaks down phenacetin. This might increase the effects and side effects of phenacetin.
Tolbutamide (Orinase)
Gymnema might increase how quickly the body breaks down tolbutamide. This might decrease the effects of tolbutamide.
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 change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar
Gymnema might lower blood sugar. Taking it with other supplements with similar effects might lower blood sugar too much. Examples of supplements with this effect include aloe, bitter melon, cassia cinnamon, chromium, and prickly pear cactus.
Oleic acid
Gymnema might decrease the body's absorption of oleic acid.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

How is it typically used?

There isn't enough reliable information to know what an appropriate dose of gymnema might be. 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 a 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.


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


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Last reviewed - 12/01/2023