Herbs & Plants

Gymnema silvestre

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Botanical Name : Gymnema silvestre

Family: Asclepiadaceae
Genus: Gymnema
Species: G. sylvestre
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales

Common Name :Gurmari, Gurmarbooti, Gurmar, periploca of the woods, meshasring.

Alternative names:
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”  and “n?ma” (????) meaning “naked” and “thread” respectively, the species epitheton sylvestre means “of the forest” in Latin.

Habitat :  Gymnema silvestre is   native to the tropical forests of southern and central India where it has been used as a natural treatment for diabetes for nearly two millennia.

Gudmar or Gymnema Sylvestre is Large climbers, rooting at nodes, leaves elliptic, acuminate, base acute to acuminate, glabrous above sparsely or densely tomentose beneath; Flowers small, in axillary and lateral umbel like cymes, pedicels long; Calyx-lobes long, ovate, obtuse, pubescent; Corolla pale yellow campanulate, valvate, corona single, with 5 fleshy scales. Scales adnate to throat of corolla tube between lobes; Anther connective produced into a membranous tip, pollinia 2, erect, carpels 2,unilocular; locules many ovuled; Follicle long, fusiform1.

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Chemical composition:
The major bioactive constituents of Gymnema sylvestris are a group of oleanane type triterpenoid saponins known as gymnemic acids. The latter contain several acylated (tigloyl, methylbutyroyl etc.,) derivatives of deacylgymnemic acid (DAGA) which is 3-O-glucuronide of gymnemagenin (3, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28-hexahydroxy-olean-12-ene)2. The individual gymnemic acids (saponins) include gymnemic acids I-VII, gymnemosides A-F, gymnemasaponins.

G. sylvestre leaves contain triterpene saponins belonging to oleanane and dammarene classes. Oleanane saponins are gymnemic acids and gymnemasaponins, while dammarene saponins are gymnemasides. Besides this, other plant constituents are flavones, anthraquinones, hentri-acontane, pentatriacontane, ? and ?- chlorophylls, phytin, resins, d-quercitol, tartaric acid, formic acid, butyric acid, lupeol, ?-amyrin related glycosides and stigmasterol. The plant extract also tests positive for alkaloids. Leaves of this species yield acidic glycosides and anthroquinones and their derivatives.

Gymnemic acids have antidiabetic, antisweetener and anti-inflammatory activities. The antidiabetic array of molecules has been identified as a group of closely related gymnemic acids after it was successfully isolated and purified from the leaves of Gymnema sylvestre. Later, the phytoconstituents of Gymnema sylvestre were isolated, and their chemistry and structures were studied and elucidated.

Medicinal Uses:
While it is still being studied, and the effects of the herb are not entirely known, the herb has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels when used for an extended period of time. Additionally, Gymnema reduces the taste of sugar when it is placed in the mouth, thus some use it to fight sugar cravings. 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 actually reduces cravings for sugar by blocking sugar receptors in the tongue. This effect was observed in rats in a 2003 study conducted by CH Lemon, et al. It is currently being used in an all natural medication for diabetes with other ingredients such as cinnamon, chromium, zinc, biotin, banaba plant, huckleberry and bitter melon.

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 been shown to affect experimental diabetes, reduce intestinal transport of sugars. and fatty acids. Extracts of Gymnema is not only claimed to curb sweet tooths but also for treatment of as varied problems as hyperglycemia, obesity, high cholesterol levels, anemia and digestion. The leaves were also used for stomach ailments, constipation, water retention, and liver disease; historically these claims are not supported by scientific studies.[8] According to the Sushruta of the Ayurveda it helps to treat Madhumeha ie glycosuria.[citation needed]

In 2005, a study made by King’s College, London, United Kingdom, showed that a water-soluble extract of Gymnema Sylvestre, caused reversible increases in intracellular calcium and insulin secretion in mouse and human ?-cells when used at a concentration (0.125 mg/ml) without compromising cell viability. Hence forth these data suggest that extracts derived from Gymnema Sylvestre may be useful as therapeutic agents for the stimulation of insulin secretion in individuals with Type 2 Diabetes.[9] According to research done by Persaud and colleagues in 1999 the raise in insulin levels may be due to regeneration of the cells in the pancreas.  Gymnema can also help prevent adrenal hormones from stimulating the liver to produce glucose, thereby reducing blood sugar levels  Clinical trials with diabetics in India have used 400 mg per day of water-soluble acidic fraction of the gymnema leaves. However, Gymnema cannot be used in place of insulin to control blood sugar by people with either Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes.

In 2010, King’s College, London, United Kingdom performed another study on Gymnema Sylvestre. OmSantal Adivasi extract, a high molecular weight extract from the plant Gymnema Sylvestre was found to improve the symptoms of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Glycemic control after OmSantal Adivasi administration was related to increased circulating levels of insulin and/or C-peptide. Experimenting with human islets in vitro, there was a rapid onset response to OmSantal Adivasi exposure, continued for extent of exposure to OmSantal Adivasi, and also a rapid reverse if there was a withdrawal of OmSantal Adivasi. OmSantal Adivasi created a biphasic pattern of glucose-induced insulin secretion. This resulted in enhanced rates of insulin secretion being maintained for length of exposure to OmSantal Adivasi. Other Gymnema Sylvestre extracts induce cell damage to the membrane causing pathological and unregulated release of insulin to BETA-cells. OmSantal Adivasi has a low concentration of saponin, what causes damage to cell membranes, which would be degraded during digestion. OmSantal Adivasi directly stimulates BETA-cells of the islets of Langerhans, reducing fasting and post-prandial blood glucose. OmSantal Adivasi experiments, in vitro, initiated insulin secretion at a sub-stimulatory concentration of glucose. OmSantal Adivasi has been shown to effectively reduce blood glucose and increase plasma insulin and C-peptide levels in humans

Indian physicians first used Gymnema to treat diabetes over 2,000 years ago.  . In the 1920s, preliminary scientific studies found some evidence that Gymnema leaves can reduce blood sugar levels, but nothing much came of this observation for decades.  It is a taste suppressant.  By topical application gymnema has been shown to block the sweet and some of the bitter taste, but not salt and acid taste.  By keeping off the sweet taste it helps to control a craving for sugar.  Responsible for this are considered saponins.  Gymnema has also shown mild hypoglycemic effect.  Topically (applied to the tongue, mainly to the tip or by chewing) it is used to control a craving for sugar, recommended as an aid to a weightloss diet and diabetes.  Internally it is used as an adjuvant (tea, h.p.) for diabetes. Gymnema leaves raise insulin levels, according to research in healthy volunteers. Based on animal studies, this may be due to regeneration of the cells in the pancreas that secrete insulin. Other animal research shows that Gymnema can also improve uptake of glucose into cells and prevent adrenaline from stimulating the liver to produce glucose, thereby reducing blood sugar levels. The leaves are also noted for lowering serum cholesterol and triglycerides.  In the past, powdered Gymnema root was used to treat snake bites, constipation, stomach complaints, water retention, and liver disease.

Gurmar, also known as Gymnema or Gymnema Sylvestre, is often referred to as “sugar destroyer” and has been used in Ayurveda since the 6th century BC. It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for several centuries as a safe and natural approach to help regulate sugar metabolism. The key component of Gymnema – Gymnemic Acids – mimics glucose molecules, numbing receptor sites on the tongue. Gymnema contains Gymnemic acid, Quercitol, Lupeol, Beta-Amyrin and Stigmasterol, all of which are thought to help the body maintain healthy blood glucose levels.

Benefits of Gymnema Sylvestre (Gurmar)
Gymnema may:

*Help abolish the taste of sugar*
*Help manage sugar cravings and sugar addictions*
*Help support healthy glucose metabolism*
*Help maintain healthy blood sugar levels*
*Support healthy weight*

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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How Lizard Spit Aids Diabetes Cure

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A year ago, when 58-year-old retiree B S Wig, saw the scales tip at 149 kg, he was dismayed. He was diabetic and also increasingly obese. His blood sugar hit a dismal 350 mg/dl after meals. The normal should be under 140 mg/dl. “I had become weak and refused to socialise. My life had gone haywire,” says Wig. Till he was put on to a new drug, which not only reduced his weight to a healthy 118 kg, but his sugar levels to normal. “I can now be dated,” he says happily.

Wig is lucky. Most diabetics have difficult lives, with an unending cycle of ill health, weakness and obesity as the pancreas produce little or no insulin, the hormone that converts glucose to energy. Plus, diabetic drugs usually make the patient obese, which adds to the risk of high BP, heart problems and strokes. So it’s essential to have drugs which control sugar levels and reduce weight.
And that’s what a new injectable drug, Byetta, does, say experts. It’s made from the saliva of the Gila monster, a venomous lizard found in Southwest America. It’s the first in a new range of anti-diabetic medicines and is FDA-approved. However, it can be used only on Type 2 diabetics.

It came to India exactly a year back and now, experts can quantify its success. By 2009, an upgraded version may be available.

Unlike Type 1 diabetes where there’s no insulin secretion, in Type 2, insulin production from the beta cells of the pancreas isn’t sufficient. And for Byetta to work, viable beta cells are needed, says Dr Ambrish Mithal, senior endocrinologist, Apollo Hospital, Delhi.

It works in three ways: It signals the pancreas to make the right amount of insulin after a meal; stops the liver from making too much glucose when the body does not need it, reduces appetite and the amount of food eaten and slows the rate at which glucose leaves the stomach.

Type 2 diabetics form 90% of the estimated 40 million diabetic cases in India. Almost 80% of them are obese, says Mithal. Adds Dr Pradeep Talwalkar, professor, diabetology, Raheja Hospital, Mumbai. “It suppresses rise in sugar levels by suppressing glucogon, a hormone which has the opposite effect of insulin.”

“Byetta” says Mithal, “can produce nausea and vomiting in some patients. It is a niche drug, not for all diabetics, but is a good choice for those who need to lose weight with high post-meal blood sugar rises that remain uncontrolled even on oral medicines.”

“Byetta also carries a lower risk than insulin of causing hypoglycemia, a dangerous condition where the patient can lose consciousness and slip into coma as insulin drops to very low levels,” says Talwalkar.

Wig’s case is an ideal example. “I was not judicious about my medicines and kept oscillating between oral medicines and insulin. Meanwhile, my weight and sugar levels went for a toss till I started taking Byetta,” he says.

It’s important for obese diabetics to lose weight, says Chennai-based Dr A Ramachandran, president, India Diabetics Research Foundation, as obesity makes them resistant to diabetic treatment. “It is, in fact, an analog for hormones which produce insulin called incretin.” A weight reduction of 5-6 kg a year is good, says Mithal. Byetta is normally given with oral medicines.

But it’s expensive — around Rs 7,500 monthly. Rimi Dasgupta, a 41-year-old diabetic, who lost 12 kg and with sugar levels which came down to 140 mg/dl from 390 mg/dl, says, “It’s easy to inject, but I don’t know how long I can take it as it’s expensive. I hope to continue it for a year.”

Byetta comes in a prefilled injection pen which uses a small needle. This pen contains pre-measured doses, so the patient doesn’t have to adjust the dose. It’s injected twice daily before morning and evening meals.

Generally, the patient is started off on a dose of 5 micrograms (mcg) twice a day for at least 30 days, but this could be increased to 10 mcg based on individual results. In clinical trials, it was found that on an average, patients lost five pounds in 30 weeks. However, Byetta cannot be used simply for weight reduction.

Though there are other new medicines which stimulate the pancreas to make insulin without producing hypoglycemia such as Januvia and Glavus, says Ramachandran, these don’t make a patient lose weight.

Byetta could just be that shot that makes a difference.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Pumpkin may treat diabetics

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The common vegetable Pumpkin will now be more tastier than ever as Chinese scientists have claimed that it can “drastically” reduce the need for daily insulin injections for millions of diabetic patients worldwide.

Scientists have discovered a compound in pumpkin that has been known to promote the regeneration of damaged insulin-producing beta cells in diabetic rats, thereby improving the level of insulin in their blood.

Laboratory data showed that diabetic rats that had been fed pumpkin extract had only five per cent less plasma insulin and eight per cent fewer insulin-positive cells than normal healthy rats, according to a research paper published this week in the US-based Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

The researchers fed 12 diabetic rats and 12 normal rats either a normal diet or a diet supplemented with pumpkin extract for 30 days.

On average, the rats receiving the pumpkin supplements experienced a 36 per cent increase in plasma insulin compared to the untreated rats, Professor Xia Tao, the paper’s lead author and a teacher at Shanghai‘s East China Normal University said.

However, Xia, a professor at the College of Life Science, emphasised that further research was needed to evaluate the effects in human beings.

“But I tend to believe pumpkin extract could also promote regeneration of pancreatic beta cells in humans,” he was quoted as saying by China Daily

Source:The Times Of India

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Agents that regulates appetite identified

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Scientists in Japan have identified a molecule responsible for making mammals feel full, a discovery that could lead to new ways to treat obesity in humans.

Scientists believe appetite is controlled in a region of the brain called the hypothalamus, and the group of researchers claims to be the first to pinpoint an agent that triggers an increase or decrease in appetite.

In an article published on Sunday in the online version of the journal Nature, the scientists identified the molecule as nesfatin-1, which is produced naturally in the brain.

After injecting the molecule into the brains of rats, the scientists observed that the rodents began to eat less and lose weight.

The researchers also were able to induce the rats to eat more, by blocking nesfatin-1

After we injected anti-nesfatin-1 antibody, these rats showed increased appetite and finally showed a progressive increase in body weight,” Masatomo Mori of the medicine and molecular science department at Gunma University Graduate School of Medicine told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Mori said the finding could pave the way for treating obesity, which has become a major health problem in the developing world as well as in economically advanced countries.

There are at least a billion overweight adults across the world, 300 million of them considered obese, according to the World Health Organization.

Obesity has been linked to chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and some forms of cancer.

In a separate study, it has been found that the hormone leptin could help keep the body from producing too much insulin, according to a study in mice with type 2 diabetes.

People with type 2 diabetes often become resistant to the effects of insulin, causing to much of it to build up in the body.

Reporting in the September issue of the journal Peptides, researchers from the University of Florida injected a gene into the brains of diabetic mice, hoping to increase the production of the appetite-controlling hormone leptin in the hypothalamus.

Insulin levels in mice that received gene therapy returned to normal — even when they were fed a high-fat diet, the
researchers found. High-fat diets typically help trigger or worsen type 2 diabetes.

Mice that ate a high-fat diet but did not receive gene therapy, however, continued to overproduce insulin and have high blood-sugar levels.

“This was totally unexpected. Until now, there way no evidence that leptin action in the hypothalamus had control on insulin secretion.

With leptin gene therapy, we can re-impose that control,” senior author Satya Kalra, a University of Florida, Gainesville, professor of neuroscience, said.

(As published in the Times Of India)