Gut Health

The Australian Cowplant: The little-known “Destroyer of Sugar Cravings”

Many of us struggle with weight gain and sugar cravings. At certain times of life, such as Menopause and Perimenopause, healthy weight loss seems impossible no matter how hard we try.

Hormonal changes are responsible for much of menopausal weight gain.

As we age, muscle mass decreases and fat increases. We are also less likely to get enough exercise. Stress levels, along with sugar cravings, may increase. All of these factors combined can make weight control and healthy eating extremely difficult.

Enter the Australian Cowplant, a herb that shows much promise in the search for effective weight loss and blood sugar control. Scientists have made some important discoveries about this useful plant.

But what exactly is the Australian Cowplant and what does it do?

Australian Cowplant

About the Australian Cowplant 

Native to tropical forests in India, Africa and Australia, the Australian cowplant (Gymnema sylvestre) is a woody climbing shrub. This evergreen perennial has oval leaves with soft hairs on their upper surfaces and small yellow flowers that bloom all year.

It grows up to 3 metres tall and 0.3 metres wide, and it is most at home in sandy or loamy, well-drained soil. Prized in Ayurvedic medicine as a medicinal herb, the Australian cowplant is known in Hindi as gurmar or “destroyer of sugar.”

The Australian cowplant is indeed a friend to those of us who want to control blood sugar and reduce inflammation.

What is responsible for this plant’s talents? The answer is found in the leaves, which contain gymnemic acids, tannins and other powerful substances. 

Core Benefits

Scientific research has been looking at the many benefits of Australian cowplant for health issues including:

  • Sugar cravings
  • Healthy Weight loss
  • Blood sugar and insulin control
  • Inflammation

All of these health issues may affect women during the menopausal years. You will see that it’s worth looking into the Australian cowplant as a source for improved quality of life during menopause.

woman eating a pink sprinkle donut

1. Helps With Sugar Cravings

We’ve all heard how important it is to cut back on sugar. According to the Mayo Clinic, sweets account for an average of 300 calories a day. And let’s face it — we eat many of those excess sugar calories when we feel stressed. The hormonal changes that take place during menopause can make us feel even more stressed, triggering sweet cravings. 

We know that all those sweetened drinks, cookies and snacks are not good for us, but how do we beat those sugar cravings? That’s where the Australian cowplant comes in.

The gymnemic acid in the leaves blocks receptors in the tongue that enable us to taste sweets. Studies have found that taking gymnemic acid helps reduce the consumption and enjoyment of sweets.

In one study, for example, a group of adults ate a serving of their favourite candy and rated the pleasantness level and desire for more candy. Researchers then gave the subjects gymnemic acid lozenges and offered them additional servings of candy.

The results showed a 44 per cent reduction in candy intake as well as reduced enjoyment of the candy. The great thing about this study is that the participants showed less interest in eating the candy even before they tasted it.

The gymnemic acid in the leaves seems to reduce the desire for sweets — in other words, it helps control those sugar cravings. 

Another sweet-reducing substance is gurmarin, a peptide also found in the leaves of the Australian cowplant. Gurmarin reduces the tongue’s ability to taste sweet and bitter flavours. Researchers note that the peptide will likely reduce the intake of sugary foods.

An advantage to gymnemic acid and gurmarin is that they do not interfere with the enjoyment of other tastes. With the weight gain and sugar cravings that often come with menopause and perimenopause, it’s good to know that there is a natural way to reduce sweet cravings.

woman holding her jeans out to the side

2.Promotes Healthy Weight Loss

During Menopause and Perimenopause, weight gain is common, especially around the midsection, hips and thighs. But it’s more than a matter of what we wear... Health risks associated with Menopausal weight gain include:

  • Heart disease
  • Respiratory problems
  • Diabetes
  • Certain cancers

We can keep the weight gain to a minimum without taking weight loss supplements that can make us feel jittery.

Studies have shown that Australian Cowplant extract can help us lose weight without affecting the central nervous system. For example, researchers have found that the herbal extract leads to reduced food intake and promotes healthy weight loss.

Another study found that gymnemic acids help prevent the buildup of triglycerides in the liver and reduces fatty acid levels. The Australian cowplant, therefore, appears to improve fat metabolism, an important factor in weight loss.

What about that frustrating rebound weight gain that often happens after you’ve finally reached your target weight?

A few weeks after our healthy weight loss, the kilograms sneak back and we're starting from square one again. The Australian Cowplant may help us keep off the kilograms once and for all. 

woman pricking her finger to check blood sugar

3. Helps Control Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels

When the body does not produce enough insulin, it cannot metabolise sugar. The result is high blood sugar levels and diabetes. For those of us who have diabetes, blood sugar and insulin levels are crucial. Once again, it’s the gymnemic acids in the Australian cowplant to the rescue! 

Insulin is produced in the pancreas, and researchers believe that gymnemic acid helps keep insulin levels higher by stimulating insulin production in the pancreas. It may also promote cell growth in the pancreas, increase utilisation of glucose and inhibit the absorption of glucose in the small intestine.

The herb itself appears to decrease blood sugar levels. In one study, participants who took extended release extract from the leaves had an average of 11 per cent decrease in blood sugar. Some participants had as much as a 15 per cent decrease.

 Participants had their fasting blood sugar tested before the study began. During the 90-day study, they were given two tablets a day of the extended release leaf extract. Besides the decrease in blood sugar, 11 patients were able to decrease their diabetes medications.

Research also suggests that gymnemic acid decreases glucose absorption in the body and helps control blood sugar levels. It is so effective that five of 22 participants in one study were able to discontinue their diabetes medicationsafter taking an Australian cowplant leaf extract.

The participants, who all had type 2 diabetes, were given the leaf extract for 18 to 22 months along with their usual diabetes medications. All showed significantly decreased blood sugar levels, making it possible for them to decrease or discontinue their conventional medications.

High blood sugar and diabetes must be taken seriously and controlled. Diabetes increases the risk of many complications, including:

  • Kidney disease
  • Eye damage
  • Heart disease
  • Nerve problems

There are many supplements on the market that claim to control blood sugar and insulin levels. Unlike many supplements, the claims about the Australian cowplant are actually backed by scientific research. Scientists have been aware of the sugar-reducing properties of the Australian cowplant since the 1930s, and the discoveries continue. Blood sugar control and weight loss, however, are not the only benefits of the Australian cowplant.

graphic of inflamed small intestine

4. Antioxidant Protection Against Inflammation

Another reason to love the Australian cowplant is its ability to prevent inflammation. Its anti-inflammatory properties are important for overall health, especially in people who are overweight. Scientific research shows that weight gain and excessive sugar intake — even moderately sweetened beverages — increase the risk of inflammation in the body. 

A major reason for this increased risk is that people who are obese usually have lower levels of antioxidants in their bodies. Antioxidants are compounds that help prevent inflammation by protecting cells from damage caused by oxidative stress. Health problems linked to oxidative stress include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer

The Australian cowplant can help you prevent inflammation in a number of ways. The herb is a rich source of antioxidant compounds including tannins and flavonoids, and researchers have found that the plant is indeed a strong antioxidant. Scientists believe that the presence of tannins and flavonoids makes the plant an important remedy against inflammation.

You’ll want to include the Australian cowplant in your anti-inflammatory arsenal for another reason. Remember the gymnemic acid that helps control sugar cravings? Scientists have found that it also has anti-inflammatory properties. Add that to its scientifically proven ability to control sugar cravings, and you have a wonderful herbal ally against inflammation.

Science-Backed Herbal Supplement 

Trying to lose weight can be frustrating, especially when dealing with hormonal weight gain during menopause. You find yourself gaining weight in areas where you never gained weight before. Along with weight gain, you have concerns about diabetes and heart disease. Sugar cravings and stress can make the battle against those kilograms downright discouraging.

We are bombarded with advertisements for a variety of supplements. One promises to burn fat while another claims to control sugar cravings. To add to the confusion, you’re not even sure if these products really work.

The Australian cowplant is a medicinal herb with a long history of use. And now, many of its claims are backed by scientific research. Scientists are able to identify the parts of the plant that are effective, from gymnemic acid to prevent sugar cravings to tannins to fight inflammation.

Scientific References:


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