Gymnema, is it the dieter's dream?

November is Diabetes Awareness month and also the month for lots of yummy food, tasty drinks, and time for family and friends to get together. The temptation to indulge in all the goodness is there front and center. For those with blood sugar issues it can be a huge stressor. Toss in a few holidays and drama, you’ve got a sugar craving like no other.

This is why I love working with clients, herbs and life. When it comes to diabetes, or even hypoglycemia, there is always a way to help balance things out. One of the ways I like to do this is by using Gymnema sylvestre.

Gymnema herb is actually a tree, rather than a shrub, and native to Africa and India. It is an important herb in Ayurvedic medicine and has been used in that part of the world for a few millennia. The leaves are the parts of the tree we use and can either be fresh or dried. I use the dried as it is more accessible and perfect for tea and tea blends. The tincture is also incredible and I use it blended with herbs that are different from those that I use in tea form. One thing about Gymnema is that it is very high in chromium, a nutrient that many diabetics have difficulty in absorbing.

Gymnema is one of my go-to’s for balancing blood sugars but I rarely use it by itself.

The magic happens when in combination with other herbs. Not only is it effective in toning the blood, it also strengthens the body in general. Clinically, Gymnema has been proven to lower blood sugars but that does not mean we can go nuts on our diets, especially this time of year. As for strengthening the body, Gymnema has been shown to be effective in lowering cholesterol, alleviate some allergies, and calm certain forms of hyperactivity.

Gymnema, is it a dieter’s dream? Nope! While Gymnema is effective at blocking the taste of sugar, it is folk lore that caused people to believe it could block the absorption of carbs. Both Gymnema and “sugars” are absorbed in the small intestine, that big bowl of spaghetti that you see in the anatomy charts. This is why gut health is so important. It is in the small intestine that most of the transfer of nutrients takes place, not in the stomach. Diet is still a big deal whether you have diabetes, hypoglycemia or not.

What Gymnema does do for the palate is cause granulated sugars to taste like sandy crap, but it won’t affect food from tasting good. It simply suppresses the desire for sweets. Not like you’ll be able to taste them anyway lol. The effect normally lasts 1-2 hours which is why you’ll find some people using Gymnema as an oral spray between meals and during times of high stress.

As we move into winter and the holiday season, lets set a goal of watching what we consume and what we offer our guests. A happy mix between the healthy and the naughty will be greatly appreciated by family and friends alike.

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