Gymnema sylvestre is a perennial woody climber indigenous to tropical Africa, India and Australia, and is most commonly used as a natural diabetes treatment. The plant is considered to possess anti-microbial and hepatoprotective (prevents liver damage) properties, and is also used as a homeopathic or ayurvedic treatment for asthma, inflammation, eye conditions and as an appetite suppressant for sugar cravings. In regards to sugar cravings, Gymnema sylvestre leaves "block" the sweet receptors of the tongue's taste buds, making the taste of sweets unappealing for up to two hours after ingestion. This helps to curb cravings which could be harmful to diabetics, or which could lead to junk food binges that cause to obesity. The active medicinal component of Gymnema sylvestre is the gymnemic acid content, which is found in the leaves of the plant. These acids are considered responsible for the anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-sweetener and anti-obesity properties the plant is known for. Preparation of these leaves for herbal remedy purposes is a straightforward and simple process.
The most common and effective way to take Gymnema sylvestre is in tea form. To make Gymnema sylvestre tea, you'll need to place either dried or fresh leaves in a cup. Boil one cup of water on a stovetop, and pour the boiling water over the leaves. Steep the tea for at least 15 minutes to fully release the gymnemic acids in the leaves. You'll want to avoid putting any dairy product into the tea, such as milk or creamer, as this can interfere with the medicinal potency of the tea. Given the bitter taste of Gymnema sylvestre leaves, however, you may want to sweeten the tea with a bit of honey.
There are currently no safe or reliable recipes available for making home tinctures with Gymnema sylvestre and food grade alcohol, though alternate forms of Gymnema sylvestre do exist in the form of professionally manufactured tinctures and capsules. Again, as with drinking Gymnema sylvestre tea, taking the other forms of the herb also requires eating food immediately before or during dosage in order to avoid nausea or flatulence. Any manufactured Gymnema sylvestre product you use should contain a minimum of 25% gymnemic acid in order to receive the full medicinal effect of the herb. Further efficacy can be achieved in this regard by avoiding manufactured Gymnema sylvestre products that contain preservatives, fillers, artificial coloring, binding agents and flow agents (e.g. silica).
For the purposes of weight management, a Gymnema sylvestre dosage of 200 mg is recommended on a daily basis. For treating hyperglycemia, a dosage of 400 mg to 600 mg is recommended on a daily basis. For both weight management and treatment of diabetes, noticeable positive results may take anywhere from three months to 24 months. Users should be advised that taking the tea on an empty stomach frequently causes mild gastrointestinal discomfort. Take the tea with meals or just after eating to avoid this common problem. Additionally, Gymnema sylvestre is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women, or for those taking St. John's Wort, antidepressants or tetracycline. Diabetics should consult with their physicians before using Gymnema sylvestre, as the herb can interfere with the workings of any medications they are currently taking.