New Study Reveals How Gymnema Works
Research has shown that Gymnema sylvestre is effective in reducing sugar cravings. But what wasn’t clear was how it worked. Now a new study published in Physiology and Behavior uses brain imaging to show how gymnema affects the brain, specifically in areas of the brain that relate to cravings. The study also found that having gymnema in the form of a Sweet Defeat lozenge reduced sugar consumption by 52%.
How the Study was Conducted
In this double-blind study, 40 men and women visited the lab on two separate days. On one day, they had a Sweet Defeat lozenge that contains gymnema; on the other day, they had a placebo lozenge. Which one they had was randomly assigned, and the subjects didn’t know which lozenge they received. On both visits, they had their brain scanned in an fMRI machine while being shown images of a milkshake, while having a lozenge, and while drinking a milkshake. They were also offered candy after having the lozenge.
Results From the Study
While other research has found that tasting sweet foods makes you want to have another bite, this study helps explain why that happens. The fMRI images showed that tasting a sweet food increases activity in areas of the brain that relate to reward valuation and drug addiction: when the subjects had a sip of a milkshake, the caudate, nucleus accumbens, and orbitofrontal cortex regions lit up.
After the subjects had gymnema in the form of a Sweet Defeat lozenge, the same regions were less active when the subjects looked at images of milkshakes and when they tasted the milkshake again. In other words, having gymnema made the subjects less likely to crave sweets and when they did have another taste, they didn’t want more. As a result, the participants consumed 52% less candy on the day they had a Sweet Defeat lozenge than the day they had the placebo.
What This Means for You
Eating sweets is one cause of weight gain—and part of the reason why nearly 70% of Americans are overweight or obese. While in the past, people may have blamed themselves for their lack of willpower when it came to eating sweets, science shows that willpower alone is not enough—and is not the main problem. This study shows the neurobiology of why sweets are so addictive and how the gymnema in Sweet Defeat can help people eat less sugar.