Nature often has a wonderful way of revealing the therapeutic properties of plants to us.
For example when you break the stem of a greater celandine plant (Chelidonium majus), you will see a yellow sap oozing from the broken end. The resemblance of this sap to bile led ancient herbalists to conclude that this herb might be beneficial to the liver and gallbladder. Modern clinical research has supported this traditional use.
This association between the physical characteristics of a plant and its potential to heal is known as the Doctrine of Signatures.
One of the most profound examples of the Doctrine of Signatures is the Ayurvedic (traditional Indian medicine) herb Gymnema. The Hindi word “Gurmar” translates in English as “sugar destroyer.”
The translation is literal: When Gymnema is applied to the mouth, it prevents the taste buds from perceiving sweet tastes. Chewing chocolate is like chewing butter. Grains of sugar are like grains of sand.
But it is more that just a fantastic party trick. Gymnema is a well-proven treatment for diabetes, and it has been used for this purpose for over 2,000 years. In my own clinical experience, I have found Gymnema to be the best herb available for treating this condition and controlling excessive blood sugar levels.
Repair diabetes damage in as little as 20 days
Gymnema contains a group of compounds known as gymnemic acids. They appear to be largely responsible for its sweet-abolishing properties, and also could contribute substantially to its antidiabetic activity.
Many lab studies have verified the antidiabetic properties of Gymnema, but one study in particular made a remarkable finding, which could substantially expand our understanding of the value of this herb for diabetes.
Researchers orally administered Gymnema extract to fasting diabetic rats. The Gymnema returned the fasting rats’ blood glucose levels to normal within 20 to 60 days.
Surprisingly, their insulin levels rose toward normal values and the number of beta cells in the pancreas (the cells that manufacture and secrete insulin) increased. This suggests that Gymnema might actually help to restore damaged pancreatic tissue, provided the damage has not gone too far. This extraordinary possibility is supported, to some extent, by the clinical trials on Gymnema.
Reduce insulin requirements by 50 percent
A controlled study on insulin dependent diabetics found that 400 milligrams per day of a water-soluble Gymnema extract reduced insulin requirements by about 50 percent. Over the duration of treatment, Gymnema lowered fasting blood glucose levels and long-term blood sugar levels.
In addition, cholesterol was significantly reduced and brought to near normal levels. Triglycerides were also lowered.
A second study by the same research group found that the same Gymnema preparation (400 mg/day) produced similar results for non-insulin-dependent diabetics. Fasting blood glucose and long-term blood sugar levels were significantly reduced compared to baseline values after 18–20 months of treatment. Similar reductions were not observed in patients receiving conventional therapy alone.
Fasting and post-meal serum insulin levels increased significantly in the Gymnema group compared to those taking only conventional drugs.
Twenty-one of the 22 patients were able to reduce their intake of drugs; five of these discontinued such drugs entirely and maintained their blood glucose with Gymnema extract alone.
Gymnema also helps beat cholesterol and triglycerides
As if Gymnema’s effects on diabetes weren’t enough, it has also shown remarkable results against two known markers of heart disease. In the studies mentioned above, the patients taking Gymnema showed significant reductions in cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
In addition, there are several studies supporting the use of Gymnema for weight loss. In one of these studies, Gymnema extract decreased weight gain and food intake when added to the diet of rats for 22 days.
The extent of the reduction depended on the dosage of Gymnema.
How to use Gymnema
Gymnema can work quite quickly to control blood sugar levels.
Used on its own, it will not drop blood sugar so far as to cause hypoglycemia. However, there is the risk this could happen if it is used together with insulin or antidiabetic drugs. So in these cases, Gymnema should only be taken under professional supervision.
Dose is very important in treatment with Gymnema. The studies quoted above used 400 milligrams per day of an extract. That correlates to about 8 grams per day of the herb in tablet form.
Gymnema works best when taken before meals. It is available at most health food stores.
If you’re curious what Gymnema looks like in it’s natural state check out this video…
Dr. Allan Spreen
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