What Is Gymnema Sylvestre and Can It Kill Sugar Cravings?

Gymnemic acid binds to the taste receptors on your tongue that perceive sweetness. As a result, it makes sweet things taste a lot less sweet.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
5-minute read
Episode #485
image of gynmema sylvestre

Then, to test the effect, I tried eating a few raisins and found them weirdly tasteless. It’s very strange to experience the texture of foods like raisins without the sweetness! I’ve always thought that the chewiness of raisins was one of the things I liked about them. But without the reward of the sweet taste, raisins had very little appeal. It was like chewing on rubber bands. I had no desire to continue eating them. The lozenge did not affect my ability to taste other flavors. I could still taste (and enjoy) the pleasant combination of bitterness and creaminess of my unsweetened iced coffee with milk, for example. But soda (or diet soda, for that matter) tasted like slightly sour club soda.

Based on my own experience, the results of the study are not at all surprising. If a treat doesn’t taste particularly good, you’re less likely to continue eating it. But there was another intriguing finding in this study.

Compared with the placebo group, those who used the active lozenges subsequently ate less candy. But they were also more likely to decide they didn’t want another piece of candy—even before thy had experienced the disappointingly-altered taste. It seems that the inability to perceive sweetness doesn’t just make it harder to enjoy a treat. It makes you less interested in having it. It’s almost as if the part of your brain that wants something sweet can already tell that this sensation is not available.

Having a few bites and then popping a lozenge would definitely make it a lot easier to stop at just a few bites.

After finishing the lozenge, sweets weren’t enjoyable or appealing to me. But, in the interests of science, I tried another raisin every 15 minutes or so just to see how long it would be before they started tasting like raisins again. In my case, the effect of the lozenge lasted about 60 minutes.

I certainly wouldn’t use these lozenges as my one and only strategy for reducing sugar intake. I still strongly suggest limiting the amount of sweet foods and beverages in your home, car, and (to the extent that you can control it) in your workplace. Out of sight, out of mind. I also don’t think that a product like this replaces the benefits of mindful eating and enjoyment. And I certainly wouldn’t recommend this as a way to cope with binge eating.

But I can see a couple of situations in which a product like this could be useful. You might intend to enjoy just a few bites of a special dessert. But, as many of you know all too well, a small taste of something sweet can bring on a powerful desire for more. Having a few bites and then popping a lozenge would definitely make it a lot easier to stop at just a few bites. But be sure to use that 60-minute window to put some distance (mentally and physically) between you and the remainder.

You might also try one of these when a random craving for something sweet strikes. It might reduce the intensity of the craving. Even if it doesn’t, it will take your tongue out of the game for long enough for that craving to pass. That’s the thing about cravings. They tend to be short-lived. If you are actually hungry, have a nourishing but non-sweet meal or snack. If you’re not really hungry, use that 60 minutes to get yourself deeply engrossed in another engaging and rewarding activity.  

Although I don’t think Sweet Defeat lozenges are the solution to overeating or obesity, perhaps they can make it a little easier to get out of bad habits and establish healthier behavior patterns.

Have you tried Sweet Defeat lozenges for sugar cravings? I’d love to hear what you’ve experienced. Questions about today’s article? Post them below or come join the discussion on the Nutrition Diva Facebook page.

Image of gymnema sylvestre © Shutterstock


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show. 

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