Medicinal Properties of Gymnema sylvestre

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Phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Gymnema sylvestre: an important medicinal plant

Tiwari P, Mishra BN, Sangwan NS
Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:830285
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3912882

Pragya Tiwari, B. N. Mishra, and Neelam S. Sangwan of the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants and Gautam Buddh Technical University review the phytochemistry and pharmacological activities of the Ayurvedic medicinal herb Gymnema sylvestre and its phytoconstituents.

From the abstract:

Gymnema sylvestre
Gymnema sylvestre [Source: Vinayaraj, Wikimedia Commons]

Gymnema sylvestre (Asclepiadaceae), popularly known as “gurmar” for its distinct property as sugar destroyer, is a reputed herb in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. The phytoconstituents responsible for sweet suppression activity includes triterpene saponins known as gymnemic acids, gymnemasaponins, and a polypeptide, gurmarin. The herb exhibits a broad range of therapeutic effects as an effective natural remedy for diabetes, besides being used for arthritis, diuretic, anemia, osteoporosis, hypercholesterolemia, cardiopathy, asthma, constipation, microbial infections, indigestion, and anti-inflammatory. G. sylvestre has good prospects in the treatment of diabetes as it shows positive effects on blood sugar homeostasis, controls sugar cravings, and promotes regeneration of pancreas. The herbal extract is used in dietary supplements since it reduces body weight, blood cholesterol, and triglyceride levels and holds great prospects in dietary as well as pharmacological applications.”

The team reviews published literature on the medicinal plant’s history; taxonomy; phytochemical profile; biosynthesis and genomics; mechanism of action; pharmacological activities (antidiabetic, antiarthritic, anticaries, antibiotic/antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anticancer/cytotoxic, antihyperlipidemic, immunostimulatory, hepatoprotective, wound healing, ethnobotanical); and bioavailability/toxicity.

Noting the increasingly endangered status of G. sylvestre, the authors recommend alternative methods of cultivation and conservation of this and other medicinal plants with pharmacological importance:

“One major factor that comes into play is that many medicinal plants of commercial importance face threat of extinction due to increase in demand and destruction of their habitats due to urbanization and industrialization. The prime initiative should focus on the cultivation and conservation of medicinal plants with pharmacological importance. Although, the herb has immense prospects in drug development, but it faces threat of extinction due to continuous deforestation and absence of established lines and varieties. The in vitro propagation of plants, in plant tissue culture offers a promising alternative for the production of valuable secondary metabolite. G. sylvestre, being a valuable medicinal plant and source of bioactive substances, needs to be propagated and conserved. In vitro propagation of plants with high bioactive content and cell culture technologies for large-scale production of such secondary metabolites with medicinal significance will be highly prospective and will provide new dimensions to this area of research.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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