Hey folks! So, yesterday, a couple of high school kids showed up at my door. Turned out they were carrying out a health awareness. Since I love everything health, I invited them in and over a few cups of tea, they introduced me to the amazing Gymnema leaf and its lorry load of health-related benefits. I am pretty excited about all I learned and so, I have decided to share a bit of my knowledge with you. Let’s get talking folks!
What Exactly is the Gymnema Leaf?
Forget how weird the name sounds, this leaf is actually one of the go-to- herbs when it comes to ensuring a healthy lifestyle. The Gymnema leaf comes from the plant which is a climbing shrub that can be found in parts of India, Australia, and the African continent. It is botanically referred to as Gymnema Sylvestre and it is a perennial plant. This means that its growth and maturity happens in three years or more. For thousands of years, the ancient folks cultivated this plant for its medicinal properties. Well, we still do same today.
The plant has a number of names. It is called the Australian cowplant, the Periploca of the woods. The Indians, however, refer to the plant as the ‘Gurmar’; a Hindi term which means ‘the sugar destroyer.’ This sure gives us an idea of one of the many health benefits of having Gymnema leaves in your diet.
What Does it Look like?
Good question! Gymnema leaves have an overall bright green color that makes them easy to identify. However, during the periods of August to September, the flowers assume a bright yellow hue. Its fruit are about two inches long and have a hard texture while its seeds are small and have a blackish brown color.
Apparently, yes! You can bring this plant closer to you by cultivating it in your garden. The school kids gave me a few tips that I would share with you. Here they are.
The first thing you should know is that this plant can virtually be cultivated anywhere and on any soil. However, a mild damp soil with a good drainage system is usually recommended. The seeds are first cultivated in the nursery until they have grown to a considerable height; then they are transplanted. Usually, transplanting should be done between February and March or September and October. Of course, you’d need to support the creeping plant with bamboo sticks.
So, what is there to Gain from Gymnema Leaves?
I’m pretty sure you’ve been waiting for this part. Gymnema plants are regarded as one of the world’s most medicinal plants. Its roots and leaves especially are utilized for varying medicinal purposes. This is because they contain a number of active elements that help a number of health conditions. In particular, the leaves contain gymnemic acids. These gymnemic acids are bioactive constituents which have the quality of suppressing the taste of sweetness on the tongue; especially sucrose and artificial sweeteners. Today, I’ll share five health benefits that you stand to gain by adding a few Gymnema leaves to your diet. Here they are
Dealing with the Sugar Levels
The Indians do not call it the destroyer of sugar for no reason. A lot of research has gone into determining if this herb could be the solution to dealing with Diabetes. This is because it has the ability to slow down the absorption of glucose from the intestines. The leaves of Gymnema contain gymnemic acid that shares a similar chemical compound structure with glucose. It, however, acts differently and often results in lower blood sugar; especially when you eat a meal that contains these leaves.
In addition, as a result of the bioactive elements contained in the leaves, chewing them can alter the taste of sugar and reduce the effect of sugar on the body. Gymnema leaves are also believed to boost insulin secretion in the body; hereby boosting sugar level control. It helps in blood sugar homeostasis and regenerating your pancreas cells. These cells are often responsible for the secretion of insulin.
Do you have a sweet tooth? You may just want to make these leaves your best friends. This is because ingesting them can help you deal with your cravings for sugar.
Burning off Excess Calories
As Gymnema leaves work on your sugar levels, they also help you lose weight by burning off excess body calories. By controlling the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream, Gymnema leaves to force the body to burn off excess adipose deposits for metabolic purposes, hereby; reducing excess calories and body weight.
In addition, the herb is also a mild diuretic and helps in water retention in the body system. This act also aids weight loss.
What about Bad Cholesterol?
Having bad cholesterol in your bloodstream is bad news. Too much of cholesterol increases your risks of suffering a heart attack or other related heart conditions and circulatory diseases. Thankfully, Gymnema got you covered on this.
These leaves contain a number of antioxidants that slow down the absorption of bad cholesterol into the bloodstream. It also aids the excretion of cholesterol from the body system and limits the risk of cholesterol deposition in the heart’s blood vessels; especially the arteries.
A Youthful Look
For many of us, remaining young at heart is not the only option. We want to retain our youthful looks too. I am one of such persons and I worry so much about what to do if the wrinkles start to appear on my skin. Fortunately, for me, I don’t need to bother so much anymore now that I have met with the Gynmena leaves. These leaves contain antioxidant properties that help in anti-aging.
In addition, it helps to relieve a number of conditions synonymous with aging such as Natural Colitis and arthritis.
Keeping Your Liver in Shape
The liver is one of the most important organs in the body. As such, it is important that your liver remains healthy enough to carry out metabolic functions. The protective properties of the leaves act as a sort of tonic that strengthens the liver.
In addition, they are useful in the treatment of jaundice, especially in children and babies.
What’s the Best Way to Consume them?
It may be a bit difficult to imagine chewing these leaves just like that; even though they are not particularly bitter. However, there are other means of ingesting these leaves. The components of these leaves have been extracted and turned into capsules and tablets which can be taken as supplements.
If you choose to be natural, like me, you could just add these leaves to your diet or chew them before or after your meal.
Any Side Effects?
Of course! Just like everything else that is good, there are a number of side effects that may come with adding Gymnema leaves to your diet. One of such things is an increase in blood pressure which may be somewhat dangerous for persons who are diabetic or already have issues with high blood pressure levels. There may also be cases of liver toxicity.
Other side effects that may arise are low blood sugar levels. Gymnema lowers blood sugar levels but if this happens rapidly and without control, other conditions may arise like excessive hunger, mental confusion anxiety, and heart palpations. It is advised that persons who are diabetic and are already taking medications should consult their doctors before adding Gymnema leaves to their diet.
So much of information is not available on how safe Gymnema leaves are for pregnant or lactating mothers. As such, it is necessary for such persons to consult their doctors before enjoying these leaves. Persons with allergies too may need to avoid Gymnema leaves. In addition, persons who are about to undergo surgical operations should stop using the leaves at least two weeks before their surgeries.
It was really rewarding to spend the afternoon learning about the wonders of Gymnema leaves. I got a few Gymnema leaves from them too and I am sure of incorporating these miracle herbs into my everyday diet. I think you should do same!