Pharmacognostic studies on Gymnema sylvestre (Retz.) Schult
Vijay Danapur, Madhushree MV Rao, Haleshi C
Gymnema sylvestre is a plant that grows in the tropical forests of central and southern India and in parts of Africa. Herbalists in India have used the leaves of this long, slender plant as a treatment for diabetes for more than 2,000 years. According to Sushruta, Gymnema is used to treat Madhumeha ie glycosuria in Ayurveda. Gymnema is used in the treatment of diabetes mellitus and in food additives against obesity and caries. However, Gymnema has also been used as a remedy for allergies, urinary tract infections, anemia, hyperactivity, digestion, cholesterol, and weight control. Gymnema leaves have antibacterial compounds. Gymnema alters the taste of sugar when it is placed in the mouth, thus some use it to fight sugar cravings. Some postulate that the herb actually reduces cravings for sugar by blocking sugar receptors in the tongue; Gymnema is also reported to have anti-allergic, antiviral, lipid lowering, and other beneficial effects. Gymnema contains compounds known as gymnemic acids and tritepenoid saponins, gymnemasins A, B, C and D. However, extracts of this plant are widely used in Australian, Japananese, Vietnamese and Indian folk medicine. In the present study pharmacognsotic studies are carried out on ‘Gudmar’ to authenticate and standardize this herb.