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Gymnema sylvestre

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  • Gymnema sylvestre is an herb native to the tropical forests of southern and central India. Chewing the leaves suppresses the sensation of sweet. This effect is attributed to the presence of the eponymously named gymnemic acids.
  • G. sylvestre has been used in traditional medicine as a treatment for diabetes for nearly two millennia, but there is insufficient scientific evidence to draw definitive conclusions about its efficacy. It is used in folk, ayurvedic and homeopathic systems of medicine because of believed potent antidiabetic effect.
  • Common names include miracle fruit, gymnema, cowplant, Australian cowplant, gurmari, gurmarbooti, gurmar, periploca of the woods, and meshasringa.
  • Gymnema reduces the taste of sugar when it is placed in the mouth. From extract of the leaves were isolated glycosides known as gymnemic acids, which exhibit anti-sweet activity. This effect lasts up to about 2 hours. Some postulate that the herb may reduce cravings for sugar by blocking sugar receptors in the tongue. This effect was observed in isolated rat neurons.
  • The active ingredients are thought to be the family of compounds related to gymnemic acid: purified gymnemic acids are widely used as experimental reagents in taste physiology and have also an anti-diabetic effect in animal models, reduce intestinal transport of maltose in rats when combined with acarbose, and reduce absorption of free oleic acid in rats.
  • Despite the part used being the leaf, one common name of this species is miracle fruit, a name shared by two other species: Synsepalum dulcificum and Thaumatococcus daniellii. Both species are used to alter the perceived sweetness of foods.
  • In English the species is also known as gymnema, cowplant, and Australian cowplant. This species also goes under many other names such as; Gurmari, Gurmarbooti, Gurmar, periploca of the woods and Meshasringa. The Hindi word Gur-mar (Madhunaashini in Sanskrit, Chakkarakolli in Malayalam,Podapatri in Telugu), literally means sugar destroyer. Meshasringa (Sanskrit) translates as "ram's horn", a name given to the plant from the shape of its fruits.
  • Gymnema derives from the Greek words "gymnos" (γυμνὀς) and "nēma" (νῆμα) meaning "naked" and "thread" respectively, the species epitheton sylvestre means "of the forest" in Latin.
  • Gymnema Sylvestre leaf has been shown effective for weight loss because of itís ability to curb sweet cravings and the effect it has on blocking sugar absorption.

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