Gurmar plant (Gymnema sylvestre) is a large woody climbing plant which is also known as Mehashringi, to give it the local name, has roots at its nodes. The leaves are simple, opposite, and ovate-elliptical. It is narrow tipped with a narrow base. The leaf is smooth above and has dense velvety surface beneath. The stout and slender petioles are 0.6 -1.2 cm with the lamina 2.5 -6.25 cm. Young branches are pubescent and slender.
The flowers are small and yellow. They bloom in axillary and lateral umbel-like cymes. The cymes are subglobose with a diameter of 1.25 cm. The umbel has a long stalk. The obtuse and velvety sepals are ovate and long. The flowers have a bell shape. It has a single corona that has 5 fleshy scales. The follicles are slender 5 – 7.5 cm by 0.8 cm.
The name Gurmar translate to diabetes killer. It is famous for its medicinal properties in the Middle East Africa, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway since the ancient times. They use the leaves and roots to prepare medication.
Among the various chemicals present in Gymnema sylvestre you see Phytins, Flavones Anthaquinones, and Gymnemic Acid among others. The triterpenoids have pharmacological properties.
The common name is cow-plant. People also call it Periploca of the woods.
Botanical name and family
The botanical name is Gymnema Sylvestre. It belongs to the Apocynaceae family.
Geographical areas where Gymnema sylvestre plant grows
This is native to India and Africa. The dry deciduous forests of India are its ideal location. In India, we find it growing in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Madhya Pradesh. We find it in a few isolated places in Chhattisgarh.
Gurmar medicinal use for curing diseases
People revere the Gurmar plant for its ability to treat diabetes more than anything else. They have used it for centuries now. Its action is by blocking sugar binding sites so that the sugar does not accumulate within the body. As per Ayurveda, it reduces the kapha in the body and thereby removes the craving for sugar. Just chewing a few leaves of the Gymnema sylvestre, suppressed the taste of sugar.
- Strengthens the pancreas: Gurmar repairs and regenerates the cells of the pancreas that create the insulin in our body. In this way, it destroys the sugar build-up.
- Effective for treating helminthiasis.
- Cure wounds: Make a paste of the roots and use it for snake bites and superficial skin wounds.
- Good for the air passages: You can cure a cold and ailments of the respiratory tract with Gymnema sylvestre.
- Use in Ayurveda: Since the olden days, Gymnema sylvestre has found use as a laxative, emetic, stimulant, and expectorant.
- A cure for worms: Used as a vermifuge, the Gurmar shows a significant success.
- Correct gastric complaints: If you suffer from gas problems, you should take Gymnema sylvestre plant extract. This will relieve your gastric problems.
- Good for the heart: Regular use of Gurmar helps to improve the blood circulation and augment heart health. Take the herb in powder form.
- Help for diabetics: If you have problems of hyperglycaemia you can use this herb to relieve the symptoms. This happens due to the remedial action of Gymnema sylvestre on blood sugar levels. An herbal mix of Gymnema sylvestre and Arjuna, fenugreek, chitrak, harra, and gokshura is effective for curing diabetes and other stress-related diseases.
- Relief for anemic people: If you have a lesser amount of red blood cells, then you can get relief with Gurmar.
- Alleviates constipation: For those suffering from constipation, chewing the leaves of this plant will help relieve the symptoms. For those suffering from piles, use the preparation made from the bark of the Gurmar tree to cure piles.
- Good diuretic property: Make a decoction of the leaves and have it twice a day to relieve any urinary problems. The powder has a pleasant smell and is best for this. It activates the uterus.
- Weight loss: You can have the juice of the plant to help lose weight.
- Good for the liver: If you have jaundice, then you can use the Gymnema sylvestre preparation to cure the ailment.
- Good for the eye: Use the leaf extract to cure eye problems and augment the eyesight.
For more than 2,000 years, the people of India have enjoyed the benefits of this wonderful plant and avoided the ill-effects of sugar. Only recently, in the 1930s, studies conducted in London showed how people suffering from type-2 diabetes get relief by chewing the leaves of the Gurmar plant. It reduces the blood sugar levels by preventing the liver from producing glucose.
It stimulates insulin secretion and raises the level of the circulating insulin along with C-peptides in the blood. Gymnemic acids are glycosides isolated from the leaves of the Gymnema sylvestre plant. These molecules have similarity to the glucose molecule. When we have our food, the Gymnemic molecules fill in the receptors of the taste buds. This blocks the taste of the sugar and decreases our craving for sugar.
The effect of the leaves lasts for two hours. The Gurmar helps in the management of all types of skin problems. It ignites the digestive fires while lowering the cholesterol levels. It helps fight obesity and helps easy elimination. People use it as a tonic and to treat insect bites.
Gurmar has a positive action for the metabolic activities. It can help you battle infections and has good antipyretic properties. People have shown the Gurmar cures conditions of conjunctivitis and dyspepsia.
If you have diseases related to the Kapha-Vatadosha, you get help from Gymnema sylvestre since taking Gurmar pacifies the Kapha and Vatadosha. The herbal preparation helps cure dropsy and gives comfort for colic pain. It augments the appetite. You can use it to cure symptoms of dysuria and glycosuria.
It shows positive action against the bacteria in the mouth, and so you can use it to fight the plaque formation in the mouth. It helps increase your immunity. People use it as a refrigerant. It helps optimise the lipid levels in the blood. It shows a small tendency to prevent the formation of cavities.
You can use the juice to help with the metabolic syndrome. It softens stool and helps control the symptoms of malaria. It helps deal with water retention and elevated blood pressure. If you have a stomach ache, you can cure it with Gurmar.
It interferes with diabetic medication. So, ask your doctor before you take Gurmar if you are a diabetic. Avoid long-term use for a period up to more than 18 months. Avoid Gymnema sylvestre preparations if you are breastfeeding or pregnant. Also, do not use two weeks before surgery. Overuse might lead to liver toxicity.