Gymnema sylvestre (generic name)

treats High cholesterol, Weight loss, and Diabetes
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Safety

DISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.

Allergies

Allergy to gymnema may occur. In theory, allergic cross-reactivity may exist with members of the Asclepiadaceae (milkweed) family.

Side Effects and Warnings

Aside from lowered blood sugar and increased effects of anti-diabetic drugs following chronic use of gymnema, no significant adverse effects were reported with the herb in multiple studies up to 20 months long. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or low blood sugar and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Serum glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, and medication adjustments may be necessary. Based on human and animal studies, gymnema may lower blood cholesterol levels.

Gymnema is reported to suppress the ability to detect sweet tastes due to the component gurmarin. This phenomenon prompted the Hindi name gurmar or "sugar destroyer."

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Gymnema should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding due to a lack of reliable safety information.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

Gymnema may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

Gymnema may lower blood cholesterol levels. Therefore, increased effects may occur if taken in combination with drugs that lower cholesterol such as "statins" (HMGCoA reductase inhibitors) like lovastatin (Mevacor®) or atorvastatin (Lipitor®).

Gymnema may have additive effects with weight loss drugs.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

Gymnema may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.

Gymnema may lower blood cholesterol levels. Therefore, increased effects may occur if taken in combination with herbs or supplements that lower cholesterol, such as fish oil, garlic, guggul, or niacin.

Absorption of oleic acid (a fatty acid) may be decreased by gymnema.

Gymnema may have additive effects with herbs and supplements that help with weight loss. It may interact with chromium, fat-soluble vitamins, and garcinia.

Attribution

This information is based on a professional level monograph edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Tracee Rae Abrams, PharmD (University of Rhode Island); Ethan Basch, MD (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center); Dawn Costa, BA, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Theresa Davies-Heerema, PhD (Boston School of Medicine); Ivo Foppa, MD, ScD (University of South Carolina); Paul Hammerness, MD (Harvard Medical School); Erica Seamon, PharmD (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Sarah Taylor, PharmD (University of Pittsburgh); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD, MBA[c] (Massachusetts General Hospital); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Jen Woods, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).

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