Question: I remember reading several years ago about an herb that can eliminate sweet flavors. I’m interested in knowing what it is and how it works (and hoping it can help me cut down on my chocolate cravings!). Thank you!
Dr. Wright: The herb you’re referring to is called gymnema. We featured it in the Botanical of the Month column all the way back in the January 2002 issue of Nutrition and Healing.
While I read just about everything I can get my hands on to stay on top of nutritional therapies, no one knows herbs better than the author of the original article, my friend and colleague, Kerry Bone. So, I passed your question on to him.
Here’s what Kerry had to say:
"Gymnema literally blocks your taste buds from recognizing sweet flavors. So within minutes of putting it on your tongue, eating a cookie tastes like eating a wad of salt and flour — not very appetizing.
"Gymnema works rapidly to remove the taste of sugar, but it can also work quickly to control blood sugar levels. Used on its own, it won’t drop your blood sugar levels enough to cause hypoglycemia. But, it is important to point out that there is the risk that this could happen if its used with insulin or anti-diabetic drugs. So in these cases, gymnema should only be taken under professional supervision.
"A group of compounds known as gymnemic acids appear to be largely responsible for gymnema’s sweet-abolishing properties and also could contribute substantially to its antidiabetic activity.
"I recommend taking 4 grams of gymnema in tablet form two to three times a day, for a total daily dose of 8 to 12 grams. It works best when taken about 10 to 15 minutes before meals."
You should be able to find gymnema at your local health food store.
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