Gymnema Sylvestre extract and leaf herbal supplement side effects, health benefit - use for diabetes, blood sugar, studies
October 15 2016 by Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Gymnema sylvestre herb grows in South-east Asia. Its therapeutic role in relation to diabetes mellitus, rheumatic arthritis, weight management and gout have been well known for a long time by Ayurvedic doctors in India. Extracts of this plant are widely used in Australian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Indian folk medicine. However, gymnema is best known for its benefits in diabetes. It helps support healthy blood sugar levels and contains compounds known as gymnemic acids and tritepenoid saponins, gymnemasins A, B, C and D.
The leaves have antibacterial compounds. Anti-allergic, antiviral, lipid lowering and other effects are also reported. Rodent studies indicate that the use of this herbal extract may have the capacity to maintain healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

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Gymnema Sylvestre has been used traditionally in India for centuries and has been shown in research to support healthy glucose metabolism by mediation of insulin release and activity and enhancement of healthy pancreatic function. In addition to active saponin ingredients called gymnemic acids, the herb contains a number of other saponins,anthraquinones, and flavonoid compounds including kaempferol and quercetin.

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Supplement Facts
Serving Size: 1 Veg Capsule
  Amount Per Serving % Daily Value
Gymnema sylvestre Extract (Leaves)
(GS4 PLUS) (6:1) (Standardized to Gymnemic Acids)
400 mg *
*Daily Value not established.


Cholesterol and lipids
Effect of administration with the extract of Gymnema sylvestre leaves on lipid metabolism in rats.
Biol Pharm Bull. 2001.
Extract of Gymnema sylvestre R. Br leaves was orally administered once a day to rats fed a high fat diet or normal fat diet for 3 weeks to investigate its influence on lipid metabolism. There was no influence on body weight gain or feed intake in both diet groups during the experimental period. The apparent fat digestibility was significantly decreased by
Gymnema sylvestre in both diet groups for the last 2 weeks of the experimental period, though not the apparent protein digestibility. In addition, the excretion of neutral sterols and acid steroids into feces was increased in both diet groups. The herb improved serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels through influence over a wide range of lipid metabolism in rats.

Diabetes mellitus
Diabetic patients were orally administered 1 gram of gymnema extract daily for 60 days. The herb induced increases in circulating insulin and C-peptide which produced reductions in fasting and post-prandial glucose. Also, in vitro measurements of human cells demonstrated direct stimulatory effects of insulin secretion. Al-Romaivan A, Liu B, Asare-Anane H, et al. A novel Gymnema sylvestr1e extract stimulates insulin secretion from human islets in vivo and in vitro. Phytother Res. 2010.

Exp Ther Med. 2015. Neuroprotective effects of Gymnema sylvestre on streptozotocin-induced diabetic neuropathy in rats. The results demonstrated that the brain cell protective effect of Gs may be associated with the inhibitory effect on the excessive activation of inflammatory molecules and oxidative stress mediators.

Antidiabetic effect of a leaf extract from Gymnema sylvestre in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus patients.
J Ethnopharmacol 1990.
The effectiveness of GS4, an extract from the leaves of Gymnema sylvestre, in controlling hyperglycaemia was investigated in 22 Type 2 diabetic patients on conventional oral anti-hyperglycaemic agents. Gymnema (400 mg/day) was administered for 18-20 months as a supplement to the conventional oral drugs. During supplementation, the patients showed a significant reduction in blood glucose, glycosylated haemoglobin and glycosylated plasma proteins, and conventional drug dosage could be decreased. Five of the 22 diabetic patients were able to discontinue their conventional drug and maintain their blood glucose homeostasis with Gymnema alone. These data suggest that the beta cells may be regenerated/repaired in Type 2 diabetic patients with supplementation. This is supported by the appearance of raised insulin levels in the serum of patients after supplementation.

Kidney transplant
I am contacting you regarding gymnema sylvestre supplement. Is this product safe for a diabetic who has had a kidney transplant? It is important to know these facts before trying this product. The anti-rejection medicines that my husband is taking include Cellcept, Prograf and prednisone.
    I have not seen studies regarding the use of gymnema sylvestre herb in patients who have had a kidney transplant, therefore it is not easy to give an answer. Cellcept (mycophenolate mofetil) is used to prevent rejection of a kidney. Prograf (tacrolimus) is indicated for the prophylaxis of organ rejection in patients receiving allogeneic liver, kidney, or heart transplants. I am not aware of studies regarding the interaction of gymnema sylvestre or other herbs used for diabetes with these medications.

Weight loss
Decreased bodyweight without rebound and regulated lipoprotein metabolism by gymnemate in genetic multifactor syndrome animal.
Mol Cell Biochem. 2007. Department of Pathophysiological and Therapeutic Science, Division of Medical Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Tottori University, Yonago, Japan.
In our previous studies, gymnemate extracted from Gymnema sylvestre, inhibited oleic acid absorption. The effect of gymnemate on obesity in Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima Fatty rat was investigated. Supplementation promoted weight loss by its ability to reduce hyperlipidemia, which was no withdrawal rebound: an important discovery.

Gymnema safety and side effects
A one year study on rodents did not show any toxicity. Limited human studies also confirm its safety when used for about a year or two. Doctors in India who have extensive experience with this herb have not mentioned any major side effects with its use.

Gymnema sylvestre leaf extract: a 52-week dietary toxicity study in Wistar rats
Center for Biological Safety and Research, National Institute of Health Sciences, Kamiyoga, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, Japan.
A 52-week study of oral-repeated-dose toxicity for the extraction powder of Gymnema sylvestre, Indian-native genus, Metaplexis japonica, was conducted in both genders of Wistar rats. The rats were administered a graded dose of the plant at 0.01, 0.10 and 1% of basal powder diet, along with a group fed solely with the basal powder diet without gymnema. At 26 weeks, for an intermediate examination, and 52 weeks, for the final examination, animals were subjected to hematology, serum chemistry, and pathological examination. None of the animals died in the period up to 52 weeks. No exposure-related changes in body-weight, in the food consumption, in the hematological examinations, or in the serum biochemical examinations were recognized. No histopathological alterations were seen. Thus, it was concluded that there was no toxic effect in rats treated with gymnema at up to 1% in the diet for 52 weeks.

How is the herb available
Gymnema Sylvestre extract is often standardized to 25% gymnemic acids. Each tablet or capsule usually has between 200 to 300 mg and most users take one or two pills a day with breakfast or lunch.

Summary and review
Gymnema Sylvestre extract may help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels when used as part of a healthy diet. It has been used traditionally in India for centuries and has been shown in research to support healthy glucose metabolism by mediation of insulin release and activity and enhancement of healthy pancreatic function. Perhaps some diabetics may be able to reduce their required dosage of blood sugar lowering medications, but a few more studies would be helpful to confirm these early promises.
   There are a number of natural supplements potentially useful for diabetes including cinnamon , nopal (prickly pear), American ginseng, chromium, banaba, psyllium, alpha lipoic acid, fenugreek herb, and bitter melon. The best way to use these supplements or how to combine them and in what dosages remains to be investigated. In the meantime, some patients, in consultation with their doctors, are trying these options one a time to see how each supplement influences their blood sugar levels.

Biomed Res Int. 2014. Phytochemical and Pharmacological Properties of Gymnema sylvestre: An Important Medicinal Plant. Gymnema sylvestre (Asclepiadaceae), popularly known as "gurmar" for its distinct property as sugar destroyer, is a reputed herb in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. The phytoconstituents responsible for sweet suppression activity includes triterpene saponins known as gymnemic acids, gymnemasaponins, and a polypeptide, gurmarin. The herb exhibits a broad range of therapeutic effects as an effective natural remedy for diabetes, besides being used for arthritis, diuretic, anemia, osteoporosis, hypercholesterolemia, cardiopathy, asthma, constipation, microbial infections, indigestion, and anti-inflammatory. G. sylvestre has good prospects in the treatment of diabetes as it shows positive effects on blood sugar homeostasis, controls sugar cravings, and promotes regeneration of pancreas. The herbal extract is used in dietary supplements since it reduces body weight, blood cholesterol, and triglyceride levels and holds great prospects in dietary as well as pharmacological applications. This review explores the transition of a traditional therapeutic to a modern contemporary medication with an overview of phytochemistry and pharmacological activities of the herb and its phytoconstituents.

Animal studies
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Feb 10. Pretreatment of Gymnema sylvestre revealed the protection against acetic acid-induced ulcerative colitis in rats. GS leaves extract showed significant amelioration of experimentally induced colitis, which may be attributed to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant property.

Other products on the market
buy Gymnema Sylvestre extract, 400 mg, 90 Tablets
Supplement Facts:
Serving Size: 1 Tablet
Gymnema Leaf 400 mg
Suggested Use:  2 gymnema tablets daily. Take 1 tablet after breakfast, and 1 after dinner, or as recommended by your health care professional.