Benefits of Fenugreek


The use of herbs in conventional, allopathic medicine has grown substantially in the past two decades. Unfortunately, the rise in diabetes has grown exceptionally fast as well. Western medicine is still scrambling to learn the many benefits of herbs that have been used in other countries for centuries. For many years, the herb fenugreek (Trigonella foenumgraecum) has been used to help treat elevated blood sugars and is now beginning to get attention for an ever-growing problem in this country.

The benefit of fenugreek goes to another potential problem of Western culture, high cholesterol. This is a win-win for diabetics who often deal with high cholesterol along with the high blood sugars. The research shows that fenugreek can lower cholesterol and triglycerides and may help increase the good HDL cholesterol [Source: Gupta, Sharma, Sowmva]. In addition, fenugreek may provide extra benefit by attenuating inflammation. Chronic inflammation is associated with joint pain, heart disease, dementia and even cancer. By slowing down inflammation, we can help reduce risk of various chronic illnesses. Fenugreek helps to reduce some powerful inflammatory markers called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and NF-kappa beta. Like vitamins C and E, fenugreek may help antioxidant problems, which protects cells from wear and tear damage [Source: Kaviarasan].

The antioxidant properties of fenugreek may lead to further benefit in a variety of areas. Fenugreek has protected liver cells from alcohol toxicity [Source: Kaviarasan]. Laboratory studies have highlighted fenugreek’s ability to stop breast cancer cell and leukemia cell growth [Source: Srinivasan, Hibasami]. The safety of fenugreek is good; it has been well-tolerated [Source: Flammang]. Dosing of fenugreek can start at 400 mg taken 1-3 times a day. Interestingly, fenugreek also has a historical use as a way to increase breast milk production. Patients adding fenugreek to regular diabetic medications should add it in slowly as to not drop the blood sugars too quickly or too low.

Fenugreek is part of the growing use of herbs in conventional medicine. This coincides with a greater need for traditional medicine to get better control of treatment and prevention for many chronic diseases. Fenugreek may hold many possibilities in such chronic diseases like diabetes.

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Sources

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  • Kaviarasan S, et al.  Polyphenol-rich extract of fenugreek seeds protect erythrocytes from oxidative damage.  Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2004 Fall;59(4):143-7.
  • Kaviarasan S, et al. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum graecum) seed extract prevents ethanol-induced toxicity and apoptosis in Chang liver cells. Alcohol Alcohol. 2006 May-Jun;41(3):267-73. Epub 2006 Mar 30.
  • Srinivasan S, et al.  Diosgenin targets Akt-mediated prosurvival signaling in human breast cancer cells.  Int J Cancer. 2009 Aug 15;125(4):961-7.
  • Hibasami H, et al. Protodioscin isolated from fenugreek (Trigonella foenumgraecum L.) induces cell death and morphological change indicative of apoptosis in leukemic cell line H-60, but not in gastric cancer cell line KATO III. Int J Mol Med. 2003 Jan;11(1):23-6.
  • Flammang AM, et al. Genotoxicity testing of a fenugreek extract. Food Chem Toxicol. 2004 Nov;42(11):1769-75.

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