Madhunashini (Gymnema sylvestre R. Br.) commonly known as ‘Gudmar’ in Hindi is an important medicinal climber belonging to the family Asclepiadaceae, acclaimed for its anti-diabetic properties. It is widely found growing in the tropics of Africa, Asia and Malaysia. In India, this plant is found growing in abundance in the forests of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Bihar. Due to its heavy demand in South East Asian countries, the plant is under cultivation in Indian states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Bihar & Bengal.
This climber is extensively used in almost all the Indian system of medicine as a remedy for rheumatism, cough, ulcer and pain in eyes. It is also useful in inflammations, dyspepsia, constipation, jaundice etc., Roots have been reported as a remedy for snakebite. The anti-diabetic property of the plant is attributed to the presence of mixture of triterpines and saponins in the leaves. These have been designated as gymnemic acids A, B, C and D, which have the gymnemagenin and gymnestrogenins.
USES (MEDICINAL PROPERTIES)
Though India is becoming the diabetic capital of the world, here is the hope, Gurmar!
- It is used for reducing blood sugar level since centuries.
- The paste of the root is used for the treatment of snake bites or wounds.
- It also brings down a high cholesterol level and manages triglyceride level.
- This is also useful for the treatment of jaundice.
- The leaf juice can be taken to avoid constipation.
- It increases lipid level in blood.
- The juice is also used to regulate the weight of the body.
- It is also useful for the treatment of hyperglycemia and anemia.
- The plant extract is used as a liver tonic.
- The leaf juice is diurnal and hence helps in urination.
The crop is found growing on a variety of soil in different localities. Red sandy loam or medium deep black soil is reported to be ideal for this crop. The plant is sensitive to water logging and hence its cultivation on such soil should be avoided.
Madhunashini prefers tropical and sub-tropical type of climate. It is found growing even in dry areas also. The areas with high or medium well distributed rainfall are suitable for its cultivation.
Based on the size of leaf, the climber can be classified into two types.
- Small leaves type:Leaves are oval measuring 1.0-3.5 cm length and 1.5 –2.5 cm very soft, found in dry regions.
- Broad and pubescent type:These leaves are also oval measuring 3-6 cm in length and 3.5-5.0 cm in width. Leaves are dark green compared to small leaves type and also are pubescent.
NURSURY AND PLANTING
Mature seeds are collected between October- November and sown in polybags or small plots of nursery, the raised seedlings are transplanted in field during February March. The plant grows well in onset of rainy season. The climber is given proper support for its better growth and development. It can be planted with intercropping.
The plant can also be propagated through cutting and planted during rainy season.
IRRIGATION AND WEEDING
Irrigation is given immediately after planting and fertilizers are applied. Later on, irrigation once in 5-6 days is sufficient. During summer depending on the weather condition irrigation frequency needs to be increased. Since, weeds compete with the plants for water and nutrients; an area of one metre around the plant needs to be kept clean by hand weeding at periodical intervals.
HARVESTING AND YIELD
The crop is ready for harvest two years after planting. Leaves are the economic part and the harvesting of the leaves begins when plants start flowering i.e., during end of June or first week of July.
Leaves can be harvested along with flowers either by hand or can be cut with sickle/knife. The harvest leaves are dried under shade by allowing sufficient air to circulate by spreading thinly on clear ground for about 7-8 days. Direct sunlight should be avoided to maintain the quality of the leaves.
The crop is harvested only once in a year during flowering and on an average 5-6 kg dried leaves per plant can be obtained from a 4 years old plant yielding about 4800-5000 kgs of dried leaves per acre. The crop can be cultivated for maximum10 years under good management.