A woody climbing shrub that comes from the forests of India and Southeast Asia called gymnema – dubbed the “destroyer of sugar” for its abilities to stop sugar cravings in seconds – is finally making its way to the U.S.
New York City-based startup Sweet Defeat is the first company to develop and market the herb to American consumers.
The plant has a long history of use in India’s Ayurvedic medicine practices to help patients with diabetes and weight loss.
Arianne Perry, co-founder and CEO of Sweet Defeat, said she got the idea to launch the company after battling her own sugar addiction for years.
“I’ve had a sweet tooth all of my life,” she tells FOX Business. “[I thought] what if I had something that helped me make chocolate taste different, so I could stop eating it.”
Perry said after reading more than 100 articles, scientific papers and books on nutrition, taste and eating behaviors, she met with two researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, who told her about gymnema.
“Gymnema works like a palate reset and blocks the ability to make things taste sweet,” she adds.
After more than three years testing out the product and after raising more $10 million – with another round expected to be announced soon – Perry and her team created a minty lozenge so consumers can carry it with them to help them curb sugar cravings on the go.
Each mint, according to Sweet Defeat, dissolves on your tongue and contains only five ingredients: gymnema, zinc, sorbitol, mint and spirulina. Gymnema is also regulated by the FDA as a dietary supplement and is considered safe under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994.
“Before we moved to commercialization, we hired a board-certified food safety firm to review the scientific literature and scan the global adverse event reporting databases. They found no known side effects,” Perry said, while adding that concerned consumers should consult with their doctor before using the product.
Sweet Defeat said since launching in January, sales have grown 25 times with 40 percent growth month over month.
The mint could potentially help the more than 30 million adults that have diabetes in the U.S., according to the American Diabetes Association.
A 2001 study found that 65 people with high blood sugar who took some form of a gymnema leaf extract for 90 days all reported lower levels. Additionally, the leaf helped increase glycemic control in people with Type 2 diabetes. Overall, study authors concluded that gymnema could potentially help prevent diabetic complications in the long term.