Natural Weight Loss with Gymnema Sylvestre: A Look into Traditional Uses
Gymnema sylvestre has been used to treat many maladies in India and other Asian countries over the past two thousand years. Recent studies have exhibited its ability to control blood sugar levels and aid in weight loss. Read on to learn about the vast history and weight loss mechanism of this ancient herb.
The Gymnema Sylvestre Plant
The tropical forests of central and southern India provide a home to this woody, climbing plant. Gymnema sylvestre is known by several other names, including the Hindi "Gurmar" (literally meaning sugar-destroyer), the Sanskrit "Mesbasringi", and "Periploca of the Woods" in English.
The leaves of gymnema sylvestre are used for herbal preparations. Indians would also chew on leaves straight from the plant to treat stomach ulcers, constipation, liver diseases, and water retention. It's most popular use, however, is for diabetes, which is called "sweet urine" in India. (diabetes causes increased sugar levels in urine due to chronically high blood sugar.)
How It Works
Gymnema sylvestre is called "sugar-destroyer" because it inhibits the sweet taste of normally sweet foods. It does this with the help gymnemic acid which binds to the same taste bud receptors that are normally bound by simple sugars like sucrose and glucose. In addition to making sweet foods seem less appetizing, gymnemic acid also helps increase insulin production by stimulating insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. In response, the beta cell membrane becomes more permeable and allows more insulin to enter the blood stream.
Blood Sugar and Weight Loss
You may be wondering what this has to do with weight loss. Well normally, when we eat a meal it gets broken down into its basic parts: proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and sugars. Carbohydrates and sugars are broken down into glucose, the many source of energy for the body. In response to rising blood glucose levels, the pancreas releases insulin, allowing the glucose to leave the blood stream and be absorbed by cells. The modern diet has upset this process; highly processed and high-sugar foods cause blood glucose levels to rise more quickly than normal. This in turn causes the pancreas to go overboard in insulin production as it tries to lower blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels dip below a certain point, the body thinks it needs to eat more in order to bring them back to normal. As you can probably imagine, this cycle greatly inhibits weight loss.
How Gymnema Sylvestre Can Help
The gymnemic acid in gymnema sylvestre not only helps the production of insulin, but it also prevents the absorption of sugar by the intestines. As a result, blood sugar levels don't spike as much, and the pancreas doesn't overproduce insulin. To incorporate this helpful herb into your diet, consider taking it as a supplement to curb sweet cravings and regulate blood sugar levels for easier weight loss.