Gymnema Sylvestre is a herb, climbing plant, producing stems up to 3 meters long. The stems scramble over the ground, climbing into the surrounding vegetation. The leaves are elongate oval shaped and having soft hairs on the upper surface. It has little yellow umbelliferous inflorescence which is produced throughout the year. The leaves and extracts contain gymnemic acids, the major bioactive constituents that interact with taste receptors on the tongue to temporarily suppress the taste of sweetness.
Scientific Name: Gymnema Sylvestre
Common Name: Gymnema, Australian cowplant, and Periploca of the woods, Bengali – meshashrunga
Gujarati – gudmar,madhunashini, Adhi Patra
Hindi – gurmar
Kannada – madhunashini
Konkani – kawli
Malayalam – chakkarakolli
Marathi – bedakicha pala, gudmar
Oriya – Lakshmi, mendhasingia, nagapushpi
Sanskrit – madhunaashini, meshasringa
Tamil – sirukurinjan, kokilam
Telugu – Podapatri
Urdu – gurmar.
How to grow and maintain Gymnema Sylvestre:
It thrives best in full sunlight to partial sunlight.
It grows well in well-draining soils rich in humus and organic materials or uses one part of the soil and one part of good quality manure and mix it with two parts of sand.
It prefers ideal temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius – 35 degrees Celsius / 77 degrees Fahrenheit – 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Water regularly, during the growing season. Keep soil constantly moist but never water-logged. Overwatering can cause root rot and kill the plant. During the winter season, reduce watering and only water the plant when the top inch soil to dry out between watering.
Fertilize every two weeks spring through fall with a liquid fertilizer diluted by half or feed with a very weak solution when watering the plant.
It can be easily propagated from seeds or by cuttings. The seeds have to be socked in water for one day and should be planted the next day. The seed takes 15 to 20 days to germinate. Stem cuttings are taken from the mother plant 15 to 20cm in length. Three node cutting are generally utilized. The leaves on the lower node must be cut off and that node is buried in the potting blend filled in the poly bags. Two cuttings can be planted in each poly bag. The roots will be ready within 45 days.
Prune the woody vines to control their size and permit the plant to branch out.
Pests and Diseases:
There is no serious pest or disease problem.
The Gymnema is ready for harvest during the second year after planting. Leaves are the economic part and the harvesting of leaves begin when plants begin blossoming, during the end of June or first week of July. Leaves can be harvested along with blossoms either by hand or can be cut with a knife. The gathered leaves are dried under shade by allowing sufficient air to circulate by spreading thinly on the clear ground for about 7-8 days. Direct sunlight should be avoided to maintain the quality of the leaves.
Benefits of Gymnema Sylvestre:
- All parts of Gymnema Sylvestre are used for the treatment of rheumatism, blood-vessel inflammation, hemorrhoids, and snake bites.
- The plant contains a group of oleanane type triterpenoid saponins known as gymnemic acids, a complex mixture of at least 9 closely related acidic glycosides, which have taste-modifying activity and gurmarin, which is a sweet taste-suppressing polypeptide. When the leaf is chewed, the ability to taste sweetness is lost temporarily.
- Gymnema Sylvestre is an important, bitter-tasting Ayurvedic herb that is used especially to reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics.
- Applied externally the leaves are combined with castor oil and used as a poultice to treat swollen glands.
- The leaves are used in the treatment of fevers and coughs. The powdered leaf is considered to help curb cravings for sweets and to have lipid lowering effects, it is added to food additives as a weight loss remedy.
- The roots are considered to be a useful antidote to snakebite, they are applied to the wound as a powder, made into a paste with water or given internally as a decoction.