Studies show that Gymnema is a natural treatment for type 2 diabetes. Gymnema has also been shown to be an effective treatment for type 1 diabetes.
Case reports and studies involving both humans and animals suggest that it may work in several ways to help control both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Gymnema sylvestre seem to decrease the amounts of sugar that is absorbed from foods therefore blood sugar levels may not increase as much as usual after meals.
Gymnema may promote the the bodies production of insulin and possibly prompt the pancreas to develop more beta cells, the source of insulin. It may also make body cells more responsive to the insulin that is available. (DrugDigest).
Gymnemaâ€™s effects on glucose in human diabetics was first scientifically confirmed in 1926 when it was demonstrated that the leaves of Gymnema reduced urinary glucose. (K.G. Gharpurey, Indian Medical Gazette 1926; 61: 155).
Four years later it was shown that Gymnema sylvestre had a blood glucose lowering effect when there was residual pancreatic function, but had no effect in animals lacking pancreatic function, suggesting a direct effect on the pancreas.
Surprisingly, despite the promise of these early studies, scientific investigations into the effects of Gymnema sylvestre on diabetes was not resumed until 1981 when it was again proved that oral intake of the dried leaves of gymnema brings down blood glucose and raises blood insulin levels. This was demonstrated with an oral glucose tolerance test in diabetic animals and human volunteers. (Parenting Naturally).
It appeared that Gymnema sylvestre was a major discovery in the battle against one of the most common diseases in the world as abnormalities in beta cell number and/or function are directly related to both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Later, in 1990, Indian researchers at the University of Madras carried out a study with human volunteers. 22 patients with type 2 diabetes who were non-insulin-dependent were given 400 milligrams of Gymnema extract daily, in two divided doses, in addition to their normal dose of oral hypoglycemics for 18 to 20 months.
The participants ages ranged between 40 to 62 years and the duration of diabetes ranged from 1 to 12 years. Over the duration of treatment, Gymnema significantly lowered fasting blood glucose levels (average of 174mg/dl to 124mg/dl). They also had a significant reduction in hemoglobin A1c.
(Hemoglobin A1C is tested to monitor the long-term control of diabetes and is increased in the red blood cells of persons with poorly controlled diabetes. From this test clinicians can estimate the average blood glucose level during the preceding two to four months. The target for most people is below 7).
Almost all of the participants were able to reduce their intake of drugs (21 of the 22 participants), and five patients were able to stop their conventional drugs completely, maintaining normal glucose levels with the Gymnema supplements alone.
Their Insulin levels also increased significantly compared to those on drugs alone. The authors suggested that this increase in insulin levels was probably due to regeneration or repair of beta cells facilitated by Gymnema.
This is in contrast to the diabetic group on drugs alone. Their fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c had elevated slightly and their drug doses either stayed the same or rose over the trial period. (J. Ethnopharmacol. 1990 Oct; 30(3): 295-300).
These studies demonstrate that the use of Gymnema may result in the need for smaller doses of diabetic drugs in the treatment of diabetes. However, it is important that people with this disease donâ€™t abandon proven ways to manage it, from a healthy diet to regular exercise and medications when needed.
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