Storytime! Do you recall the tale of an old man who wanted to read the newspaper but couldn’t find his glasses? And it turned out that he was wearing them on his head all the time? “How absent-minded!” You must’ve thought, but actually, we too are one of those old men. To understand the correlation, let’s walk you through a few statistics.
One in every six people worldwide suffers from type II diabetes! The prevalence of this disease is 2.4% in the rural Indian population and 11.6% in the urban Indian population. It has been declared an epidemic in the country. Due to limited awareness and changing lifestyles, controlling the disease is a must. The current treatments aim for symptomatic relief, but isn’t prevention better than cure? Nature is the treasure box with solutions to every problem. Despite it being right under our noses, we often ignore it, like the old man in the story.
Ayurveda provides us with every type of ammunition to fight any battle with the disease. One such , is Gymnema sylvestre, also known as Gurmar.
Fun fact: Gurmar (Name for Gymnema Sylvestre in Hindi) means Destroyer of sugar
Experts use it to prevent and treat various conditions. It possesses antimicrobial, antihypercholesterolemic, hepatoprotective and sweet-suppressing activities. A jack of all!
Benefits of Gurmar
Reduces Sugar Cravings
It is difficult to resist foods that create a dopamine (pleasure hormone) explosion in your brain! But it’s necessary to do so, to enjoy sugars throughout your life. And here, some help from Gurmar can be used! Molecules of gymnemic acid (a component of Gymnema Sylvestre) and glucose are similar in atomic arrangement (structure). Therefore, they occupy receptor locations of glucose on tastebuds. Since there is already a member (molecule) present on the seat (receptor), glucose can not exhibit its action. After consumption of Gurmar, sweet dishes are less appealing to the taste as you can no longer taste the sweetness of glucose. This automatically makes it undesirable to eat.
(Not comprehendible? No problem! Here’s a more straightforward explanation of how it works. Think of Glucose and Gurmar as the two most competitive friends in a group. Both of them are similar in terms of intellect, strengths, and weaknesses, except for speed. Gurmar is the faster runner among the two. In a game of musical chairs, until they (molecules) occupy a seat (receptor), they cannot move forward. In this particular round, everyone apart from glucose and Gurmar had found a seat. With one seat remaining and the competition being so intense, both ran to occupy that seat. But Gurmar being faster, occupied the chair first and headed towards the next round!)
Reduces Blood Sugar levels
A similar mechanism of action is repeated by Gurmar onto receptor locations in the external absorptive layers of the intestine. This further blocks uptake of glucose and reduces blood sugar levels.
Ps- So it’s Gurmar vs Glucose, game on!
Studies indicate the presence of tannins and saponins in Gurmar which impart anti-inflammatory properties to it. Additionally, studies have confirmed the association of inflammation with high sugar levels. An increase in sugar levels is proportional to the rise in inflammatory markers. But do not fear when Gurmar is here! The latter problem is already being taken care of.
Effect on immunity
Experts consider Gurmar leaves to be a powerful immunostimulant. While you may find it difficult to procure Gurmar leaves to strengthen your immunity, the Amrutam Ayushkey Kwath is easily available (just click the link to head to the shop) and quite easy to use!
Assistance in weight loss
Obesity is a condition wherein our bodies start accumulating unnecessary calories as fat. But once you start regulating those numbers, the process becomes relatively straightforward. And you’ve guessed it correctly, the sweet suppressing activity of Gurmar is our star here.
Action on Insulin levels and cell regeneration
Gurmar may possess the ability to promote regeneration of islets of Langerhans- cells that make insulin. This, in turn, increases insulin levels, which allows faster clearance of glucose from the blood.
Effects on cholesterol levels and risk factors of Heart-related diseases
Researchers show that Gurmar may also influence fat absorption levels. It exhibits decreased LDL levels (bad cholesterol) and improves HDL levels (good cholesterol). It reduces LDL and hence the risk factors associated with heart diseases!
Ways to incorporate Gurmar into your diet?
- Supplementary tablets
- Using it to make your tea
- Chewing the leaves
Clinical trials have been initiated to study Gurmar briefly. Its remarkable properties have urged chemists to turn towards natural remedies for diseases. However, it is important to understand that even though it’s an ayurvedic remedy, dosage and precautionary measures are to be taken under consideration. Doctors should be consulted before the consumption of any medication. We need to rule out contraindications with ongoing medicines before starting Gurmar consumption. An overdose of Gurmar may also cause the person to enter a hypoglycemic state (blood sugar levels reduce to deficient levels).
In conclusion, Gurmar may have the potential to improve the quality of life of people suffering from various ailments. A change in lifestyle, regular exercise, yoga, a few leaves of Gurmar and voila! Nature’s solution to our problems!
Reference: Gymnema Sylvestre (Gurmar): A Review