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About Gymnema Sylvestre

About Gymnema Sylvestre

Gymnema sylvestre is a woody climbing shrub that’s native to the tropical forests of India, Africa and Australia.

Its leaves have been used in the ancient Indian medicinal practice Ayurveda for thousands of years.

It has been a traditional remedy for various ailments, including diabetes, malaria and snakebites.

This herb is thought to inhibit sugar absorption and thus has become a popular study subject in Western medicine.

Here are 6 impressive health benefits of Gymnema sylvestre.

1. Reduces Sugar Cravings by Making Sweet Foods Taste Less Appealing

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Gymnema sylvestre can help reduce sugar cravings.

One of the primary active components in this plant is gymnemic acid, which helps suppress sweetness.

When consumed prior to a sugary food or beverage, gymnemic acid blocks the sugar receptors on your taste buds.

Research shows that Gymnema sylvestre extracts can reduce the ability to taste sweetness and thus make sweet foods less appealing.

In a study in fasted individuals, half were given Gymnema extract. Those who received the supplement had less appetite for sweet foods at a subsequent meal and were more likely to limit their food intake, compared to those not taking the extract.

Summary Gymnemic acids in Gymnema sylvestre can block the sugar receptors on your tongue, decreasing your ability to taste sweetness. This can lead to reduced sugar cravings.

2. Helps Lower Blood Sugar Levels

According to the World Health Organization, more than 420 million people worldwide have diabetes, and this number is expected to increase.

Diabetes is a metabolic disease characterized by high blood sugar levels. It’s caused by the inability of your body to produce or use insulin effectively.

Gymnema sylvestre is considered to have anti-diabetic properties.

As a supplement, it has been used in combination with other diabetes medications to lower blood sugar. It’s also called gurmar, which is Hindi for “destroyer of sugar”.

Similar to its effects on your taste buds, Gymnema sylvestre can also block receptors in your intestines and thus sugar absorption, lowering your post-meal blood sugar levels.

Scientific proof of gymnema’s ability to lower blood sugar is insufficient to recommend it as a stand-alone diabetes medication. However, research shows strong potential.

Studies suggest that consuming 200–400 mg of gymnemic acid reduces the intestinal absorption of the sugar glucose.

In one study, Gymnema appeared to improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels (5).

The study concluded that reducing blood sugar after a meal resulted in a decrease in average blood sugar levels over time. This could help decrease long-term complications of diabetes.

For people with high blood sugar or a high HbA1c, Gymnema sylvestre can help reduce fasting, post-meal and long-term blood sugar levels. However, if you’re taking blood-sugar-lowering medications, consult with your doctor first.

Summary Gymnema sylvestre has anti-diabetic properties and may lower your blood sugar levels after a meal.

3. May Contribute to Favorable Insulin Levels by Increasing Insulin Production

Gymnema’s role in insulin secretion and cell regeneration may also contribute to its blood-sugar-lowering capabilities.

Higher insulin levels mean that sugar is cleared from your blood at a faster rate.

If you have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, your body tends to not make enough insulin, or your cells become less sensitive to it over time. This results in consistently high blood sugar levels.

Gymnema sylvestre may stimulate insulin production in your pancreas, promoting the regeneration of insulin-producing islet cells. This can help lower your blood sugar levels.

Many traditional drugs help increase insulin secretion and sensitivity. However, herbal therapies are gaining momentum in drug development.

Interestingly, metformin, the first anti-diabetic drug, was an herbal formulation isolated from Galega officinalis.

Summary Gymnema sylvestre appears to contribute to favorable insulin levels by increasing insulin production and regenerating insulin-secreting islet cells. Both can help lower blood sugar levels.

4. Improves Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels, Reducing Heart Disease Risk

Gymnema sylvestre may help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides.

While Gymnema gets its fame from lowering blood sugar levels and reducing sugar cravings, research shows that it may also influence fat absorption and lipid levels.

In one study in rats on a high-fat diet, Gymnema extract aided weight maintenance and suppressed the accumulation of liver fats. Also, animals fed the extract and a normal-fat diet experienced lower triglyceride levels.

Another study found that Gymnema extract had an anti-obesity effect on animals fed a high-fat diet. It also decreased blood fat and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.

In addition, a study in moderately-obese people showed that Gymnema extract decreased triglycerides and bad “LDL” cholesterol by 20.2% and 19%, respectively. What’s more, it increased “good” HDL cholesterol levels by 22%.

High levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides are risk factors for heart disease.

Therefore, the positive effects of Gymnema sylvestre on LDL and triglycerides levels may contribute to a lower risk of heart conditions.

Summary Research supports that Gymnema can play a role in lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease.

5. May Aid Weight Loss

Gymnema sylvestre extracts have been shown to aid weight loss in animals and humans.

One three-week study showed reduced body weight in rats given a water extract of Gymnema sylvestre. In another study, rats on a high-fat diet that were fed a Gymnema extract gained less weight.

What’s more, a study in 60 moderately-obese people taking a Gymnema extract found a 5–6% decrease in body weight, as well as reduced food intake.

By blocking sweet receptors on your taste buds, Gymnema sylvestre may cause you to eat fewer sweet foods and consume fewer calories.

A consistent calorie deficit can result in weight loss.

Summary Gymnema sylvestre may play a role in weight loss and prevent weight gain. It may promote reduced calorie intake.

6. Helps Reduce Inflammation Due to Its Tannin and Saponin Content

Inflammation plays an important role in your body’s healing process.

Some inflammation is good, such as when it helps protect your body from harmful organisms in cases of injury or infection.

Other times, inflammation may be caused by the environment or the foods you eat.

However, chronic low-grade inflammation can contribute to various health issues.

Studies have confirmed the link between excessive sugar intake and increased inflammatory markers in animals and humans.

The ability of Gymnema sylvestre to reduce sugar absorption in your intestines may also allow it to decrease inflammation caused by excess sugar intake.

What’s more, Gymnema appears to have anti-inflammatory properties of its own. This is thought to be due to its content of tannins and saponins, which are beneficial plant compounds.

Gymnema sylvestre leaves are considered immunostimulatory, meaning they can regulate the immune system, reducing inflammation.

People with diabetes not only suffer from high blood sugar and insulin resistance but may also have decreased antioxidant levels, which can contribute to inflammation.

Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, Gymnema sylvestre can help those with diabetes and high blood sugar in a variety of ways, including by fighting inflammation.

Summary The tannins and saponins in Gymnema have anti-inflammatory properties that help fight inflammation.

Dosage, Safety and Side Effects

Gymnema sylvestre is traditionally consumed as a tea or by chewing its leaves.

In Western medicine, it’s typically taken in pill or tablet form, making it easier to control and monitor dosage. It can also be ingested in extract or leaf powder form.

Dosage

The recommended dosage for Gymnema sylvestre depends on the form in which you consume it.

  • Tea: Boil leaves for 5 minutes, then let steep for 10–15 minutes before drinking.
  • Powder: Start with 2 grams, increasing to 4 grams if no side effects occur.
  • Capsule: 100 mg, 3–4 times daily.

If you’re looking to use Gymnema sylvestre to block the sugar receptors on your tongue, take a supplement with water 5–10 minutes before a high-sugar meal or snack.

Safety Information

Gymnema sylvestre is considered safe for most people, but it should not be taken by children or women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to get pregnant.

Moreover, though it appears to improve blood sugar and insulin levels, it’s not a substitute for diabetes medication. Only take Gymnema with other blood-sugar-lowering medications under your doctor’s supervision.

Possible Side Effects

While its effects on blood sugar are rather positive, combining Gymnema sylvestre with other blood-sugar-lowering medications can cause an unsafe drop in your blood sugar levels.

This can cause side effects, such as headache, nausea, lightheadedness, shakiness and dizziness.

Gymnema sylvestre supplements should not be taken at the same time as blood-sugar-lowering medications, including insulin injections. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the best timing for taking this supplement.

Additionally, the supplement should not be taken with aspirin or the herb St. John’s Wort, as this may increase gymnema’s blood-sugar-lowering effects.

Lastly, those with milkweed allergies may also experience unpleasant side effects.

Always talk to your doctor before taking any herbal supplements.

Summary Gymnema is considered safe for most, but children or women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to get pregnant should not take it. People on blood-sugar-lowering medications should consult with a doctor first.

The Bottom Line

Gymnema sylvestre may help you fight sugar cravings and lower high blood sugar levels.

The plant may also play a beneficial role in diabetes treatment, as it may help stimulate insulin secretion and the regeneration of pancreas islet cells — both of which can help lower blood sugar.

In addition, Gymnema may fight inflammation, aid weight loss and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Though it’s safe for most, talk to your doctor first, particularly if you intend to take the supplement in combination with other medications.

All in all, if sugar is one of your vices, you could try a cup of Gymnema sylvestre tea to help you reduce your intake.

Refer to the original article in Healthline for publication references

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gymnema-sylvestre-benefits

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About Berberine

About Berberine

A compound called berberine is one of the most effective natural ingredients available.  It has very impressive health benefits and affects your body at the molecular level.  Berberine has been shown to lower blood sugar, cause weight loss and improve heart health, to name a few.  It is one of the few supplements shown to be as effective as a pharmaceutical drug.  This is a detailed review of berberine and its health effects.

What Is Berberine?

Berberine is a bioactive compound that can be extracted from several different plants, including a group of shrubs called Berberis.  Technically, it belongs to a class of compounds called alkaloids. It has a yellow color and has often been used as a dye.  Berberine has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine, where it was used to treat various ailments.  Now, modern science has confirmed that it has impressive benefits for several different health problems.

BOTTOM LINE: Berberine is a compound that can be extracted from several different plants. It has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine.

How Does It Work?

Berberine has now been tested in hundreds of different studies.  It has been shown to have powerful effects on many different biological systems.  After you ingest berberine, it gets taken in by the body and transported into the bloodstream. Then it travels into the body’s cells.  Inside the cells, it binds to several different “molecular targets” and changes their function. This is similar to how pharmaceutical drugs work.  I am not going to get into much detail here, because the biological mechanisms are complicated and diverse.  However, one of the main actions of berberine is to activate an enzyme inside cells called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK).  This enzyme is sometimes referred to as a “metabolic master switch”.  It is found in the cells of various organs, including the brain, muscle, kidney, heart and liver. This enzyme plays a major role in regulating metabolism.  Berberine also affects various other molecules inside cells and may even affect which genes are turned on or off.

BOTTOM LINE: Berberine affects the body at the molecular level and has a variety of functions inside cells. One of the main functions is activating an important enzyme called AMPK, which regulates metabolism.

It Causes a Major Reduction in Blood Sugar Levels

Type 2 diabetes is a serious disease that has become incredibly common in recent decades, causing millions of deaths every year.  It is characterized by elevated blood sugar (glucose) levels, either caused by insulin resistance or lack of insulin.  Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the body’s tissues and organs, leading to various health problems and a shortened lifespan.  Many studies show that berberine can significantly reduce blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes.  In fact, its effectiveness is comparable to the popular diabetes drug metformin (Glucophage).

It seems to work via multiple different mechanisms:

  • Decreases insulin resistance, making the blood sugar lowering hormone insulin more effective.
  • Increases glycolysis, helping the body break down sugars inside cells.
  • Decrease sugar production in the liver.
  • Slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in the gut.
  • Increases the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

In one study of 116 diabetic patients, 1 gram of berberine per day lowered fasting blood sugar by 20%, from 7.0 to 5.6 mmol/L (126 to 101 mg/dL), or from diabetic to normal levels.  It also lowered hemoglobin A1c by 12% (a marker for long-term blood sugar levels), and also improved blood lipids like cholesterol and triglycerides.  According to a big review of 14 studies, berberine is as effective as oral diabetes drugs, including metformin, glipizide and rosiglitazone.  It works very well with lifestyle modifications, and also has additive effects when administered with other blood sugar lowering drugs.  If you look at discussions online, you often see people with sky-high blood sugars literally normalizing them just by taking this supplement.  This stuff really works, in both the studies and the real world.

BOTTOM LINE: Berberine is very effective at lowering blood sugar and HbA1c, which are elevated in people with diabetes. It works as well as some pharmaceutical drugs.

Berberine May Help You Lose Weight

Berberine may also be effective as a weight loss supplement.  So far, two studies have examined the effects on body weight.  In a 12-week study in obese individuals, 500 mg taken three times per day caused about 5 pounds of weight loss, on average. The participants also lost 3.6% of their body fat.  Another more impressive study was conducted in 37 men and women with metabolic syndrome. This study went on for 3 months, and the participants took 300 mg, 3 times per day.  The participants dropped their body mass index (BMI) levels from 31.5 to 27.4, or from obese to overweight in only 3 months. They also lost belly fat and improved many health markers.  The researchers believe that the weight loss is caused by improved function of fat-regulating hormones, such as insulin, adiponectin and leptin.  Berberine also appears to inhibit the growth of fat cells at the molecular level.  However, more research is needed on the weight loss effects of berberine.

BOTTOM LINE: Two studies have shown that berberine can cause significant weight loss, while improving all sorts of other health markers at the same time.

It Lowers Cholesterol and May Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

Heart disease is currently the world’s most common cause of premature death.  Many factors that can be measured in the blood are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.  As it turns out, berberine has been shown to improve many of these factors.  According to a review of 11 studies, it can:

  • Lower total cholesterol by 0.61 mmol/L (24 mg/dL).
  • Lower LDL cholesterol by 0.65 mmol/L (25 mg/dL).
  • Lower blood triglycerides by 0.50 mmol/L (44 mg/dL).
  • Raise HDL cholesterol by 0.05 mmol/L (2 mg/dL).

It has also been shown to lower apolipoprotein B by 13-15%, which is a very important risk factor.  According to some studies, berberine works by inhibiting an enzyme called PCSK9. This leads to more LDL being removed from the bloodstream.  Keep in mind that diabetes, high blood sugar levels and obesity are also major risk factors for heart disease, all of which seem to be improved with this supplement.  Given the beneficial effects on all these risk factors, it seems likely that berberine could drastically reduce the risk of heart disease.

BOTTOM LINE: Studies show that berberine reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels, while raising HDL (the “good”) cholesterol. It may lower the risk of heart disease in the long-term.

Other Health Benefits

Berberine may also have numerous other health benefits:

  • Depression: Rat studies show that it may help fight depression.
  • Cancer: Test tube and animal studies have shown that it can reduce the growth and spread of various different types of cancer.
  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory: It has been shown to have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in some studies.
  • Infections: It has been shown to fight harmful microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.
  • Fatty liver: It can reduce fat build-up in the liver, which should help protect against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
  • Heart failure: One study showed that it drastically improved symptoms and reduced risk of death in heart failure patients.

Many of these benefits need more research before firm recommendations can be made, but the current evidence is very promising.

BOTTOM LINE: Preliminary studies show that berberine may have benefits against depression, cancer, infections, fatty liver and heart failure. It also has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Dosage and Side Effects

Many of the studies cited in the article used dosages in the range of 900 to 1500 mg per day.  It is common to take 500 mg, 3 times per day, before meals (a total of 1500 mg per day).  Berberine has a half-life of several hours, so it is necessary to spread your dosage to several times per day to achieve stable blood levels.  If you have a medical condition or are on any medications, then it is recommended that you speak to your doctor before taking it.  This is especially important if you are currently taking blood sugar lowering medications.  Overall, berberine has an outstanding safety profile. The main side effects are related to digestion, and there are some reports of cramping, diarrhea, flatulence, constipation and stomach pain.

BOTTOM LINE: A common dosage recommendation is 500 mg, 3 times per day, half an hour before meals. Berberine may cause digestive side effects in some people.

Take Home Message

Berberine is one of very few supplements that are as effective as a drug.  It has powerful effects on various aspects of health, especially blood sugar control.  The people who stand to benefit the most are individuals with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.  However, it may also be useful as a general protection against chronic disease, as well as an anti-aging supplement. 

Refer to the original article in Healthline for publication references

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/berberine-powerful-supplement

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The Science of Gut Sensory Modulation (GSM)

The Science of Gut Sensory Modulation (GSM)

GSM is an emerging science, discovered by scientists who observed and studied hormonal changes that occur following gastric bypass surgery, specifically, higher levels of the hormones GLP-1 and PYY. These hormones, released by intestinal L-cells, act as satiety signals to the brain. GSM targets L-cells in the lower gut with natural ingredients to produce a wide range of beneficial effects.

Bariatric surgery which results in satiety, weight loss, and amelioration of type 2 diabetes, also dramatically enhances gut hormone secretion. This hormone enhancement is a result of delivering nutrients to the lower bowel a region of the gut where hormone secreting L-cells are most abundant. Gut hormones are known to mediate many of the beneficial effects of gastric bypass surgery.

Additionally, new evidence suggests that nutrient-driven gut hormone secretion can be augmented by non-nutritive agonists to nutrient chemosensory (taste) receptors located in the intestine. Taste receptors are chemosensory receptors that transmit and convey the perception of taste for bitter, sweet, umami, salt and sour. The same taste receptors located on the tongue also exist in other organs including the lung and gut epithelium. Targeting intestinal taste receptors on L cells with non-nutritive agonists to augment meal-driven gut hormone secretion is a novel approach to manage bodyweight. Taste receptor agonists can exert biological and pharmacologic actions without being absorbed into the bloodstream, thus reducing the potential for off-target side-effects. This more natural approach to the management of healthy bodyweight represents an attractive opportunity for continuing research.