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Fenugreek and Diabetes

Article 1 http://www.diabetes.co.uk/natural-therapies/fenugreek.html Fenugreek is an aromatic plant that has many uses, both culinary - fenugreek is a key ingredient of curries and other Indian recipes - and medicinal.

The plant, which is widely grown in South Asia, North Africa and parts of the Mediterranean, has small round leaves and also produces long pods that contain distinctive bitter-tasting seeds.

The leaves are either sold as a vegetable (fresh leaves, sprouts, and microgreens) commonly known as methi, or as an herb (dried leaves), while the seeds are used both whole and in powdered form as a spice.

As well as being a popular cooking ingredient, fenugreek has a number of health benefits and is used in both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine.

How does it affect diabetes? Fenugreek seeds (trigonella foenum graecum) are high in soluble fibre, which helps lower blood sugar by slowing down digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. This suggests they may be effective in treating people with diabetes. Multiple studies have been carried out to investigate the potential anti-diabetic benefits of fenugreek.

Of these, several clinical trials showed that fenugreek seeds can improve most metabolic symptoms associated with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in humans by lowering blood glucose levels and improving glucose tolerance.

In one study, researchers in India found that adding 100 grams of defatted fenugreek seed powder to the daily diet of patients with insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetes significantly reduced their fasting blood glucose levels, improved glucose tolerance and also lowered total cholesterol, LDL or bad cholesterol and triglycerides.

In another controlled trial, incorporating 15 grams of powdered fenugreek seed into a meal eaten by people with type 2 diabetes reduced the rise in post-meal blood glucose, while a separate study found that taking 2.5 grams of fenugreek twice a day for three months lowered blood sugar levels in people with mild, but not severe, type 2 diabetes.

What other health benefits does it have?

Fenugreek seeds are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which help protect the bodys cells from damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals.

For centuries they have been (and are still) used by nursing mothers to help stimulate the production of breast milk during pregnancy and following childbirth. Due to their powerful antiviral properties, they are also commonly used as an herbal remedy for colds and sore throats. In addition, researchers believe fenugreek seeds may be effective in the treatment of arthritis, high cholesterol, skin problems (wounds, rashes and boils), bronchitis, abscesses, hair loss, constipation, upset stomach, kidney ailments, heartburn, male impotence and other types of sexual dysfunction.

Article 2 Fenugreek is used for many conditions, but so far, there isnt enough scientific evidence to determine whether or not it is effective for any of them.

Fenugreek is used for digestive problems such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, constipation, and inflammation of the stomach (gastritis). It is also used for conditions that affect heart health such as hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and for high blood levels of certain fats including cholesterol and triglycerides.

Fenugreek is used for kidney ailments, a vitamin deficiency disease called beriberi, mouth ulcers, boils, bronchitis, infection of the tissues beneath the surface of the skin (cellulitis), tuberculosis, chronic coughs, chapped lips, baldness, cancer, and lowering blood sugar in people with diabetes.

Some men use fenugreek for hernia, erectile dysfunction (ED), and other male problems. Women who are breast-feeding sometimes use fenugreek to promote milk flow. Fenugreek is sometimes used as a poultice. That means it is wrapped in cloth, warmed and applied directly to the skin to treat local pain and swelling (inflammation), muscle pain, pain and swelling of lymph nodes (lymphadenitis), pain in the toes (gout), wounds, leg ulcers, and eczema.

The taste and odor of fenugreek resembles maple syrup, and it has been used to mask the taste of medicines.

In foods, fenugreek is included as an ingredient in spice blends. It is also used as a flavoring agent in imitation maple syrup, foods, beverages, and tobacco.

In manufacturing, fenugreek extracts are used in soaps and cosmetics.

Fenugreek leaves are eaten in India as a vegetable.

How does it work? Fenugreek appears to slow absorption of sugars in the stomach and stimulate insulin. Both of these effects lower blood sugar in people with diabetes.

Diabetes. Consuming fenugreek, mixed with food during a meal, seems to lower blood sugar levels after the meal in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

High cholesterol. There is conflicting evidence about the effectiveness of using fenugreek for lowering cholesterol.

High triglycerides (blood fats). Preliminary research suggests fenugreek might lower triglycerides in people with type 2 diabetes.

Heartburn. Preliminary research suggests that taking a specific fenugreek product (FenuLife, Frutarom Belgium) before the two biggest meals of the day reduces symptoms of heartburn.

Stomach upset. Decreased appetite. Constipation. Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Gout. Sexual problems (erectile dysfunction, ED). Fever. Baldness. Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate fenugreek for these uses.

Fenugreek is LIKELY SAFE for people when taken by mouth in amounts normally found in foods. It is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken in amounts used for medicinal purposes (amounts larger than normally found in food). Side effects include diarrhea, stomach upset, bloating, gas, and a maple syrup odor in urine. Fenugreek can cause nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing, facial swelling, and severe allergic reactions in hypersensitive people. Fenugreek might lower blood sugar.

Special Precautions & Warnings: Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Fenugreek is LIKELY UNSAFE in pregnancy when used in amounts greater than those in food. It might cause early contractions. Taking fenugreek just before delivery may cause the newborn to have an unusual body odor, which could be confused with maple syrup disease. It does not appear to cause long-term effects.

Although fenugreek is used to stimulate the production of breast milk, not enough is known
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about the safety of fenugreek during breast-feeding. Its best not to use fenugreek is you are breast-feeding.

Children: Fenugreek might be UNSAFE for children. Some reports have linked fenugreek tea to loss of consciousness in children. An unusual body odor resembling maple syrup may occur in children drinking fenugreek tea.

Diabetes: Fenugreek can affect blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use fenugreek.

Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with FENUGREEK Fenugreek might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking fenugreek along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos),

rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.

Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with FENUGREEK Fenugreek might slow blood clotting. Taking fenugreek along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with FENUGREEK Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. Fenugreek might also slow blood clotting. Taking fenugreek along with warfarin (Coumadin) might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.

Article 3 Effect of fenugreek seeds on blood glucose and lipid profiles in type 2 diabetic patients. Kassaian N, Azadbakht L, Forghani B, Amini M.

Source: Infectious Diseases Research Center, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran. Arbabnia_mn@Yahoo.com

Abstract BACKGROUND: Recently use of herbal medicines, have been considered as an alternative for therapeutic usage. So, this study was undertaken to evaluate the hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects of fenugreek seeds in type 2 diabetic patients.

METHODS: In a clinical trial study, 24 type 2 diabetic patients were placed on 10 grams/day powdered fenugreek seeds mixed with yoghurt or soaked in hot water for 8 weeks. Weight, FBS, HbA(1)C, total cholesterol, LDL, HDL and food record were measured before and after the study. The differences observed in food records, BMI and serum variables were analyzed using paired-t-test and t-student and P<or=0.05 was considered as significant.

RESULTS: After exclusion of 6 cases for changing in medication or personal problems, the results of 18 patients (11 consumed fenugreek in hot water and 7 in yoghurt) were studied. Findings showed that FBS, TG and VLDL-C decreased significantly (25 %, 30 % and 30.6 % respectively) after taking fenugreek seed soaked in hot water whereas there were no significantly changes in lab parameters in cases consumed it mixed with yoghurt. BMI, Energy, Carbohydrate, Protein and fat intake remained unchanged during study.

CONCLUSION: This study shows that fenugreek seeds can be used as an adjuvant in the control of type 2 diabetes mellitus in the form of soaked in hot water.

Article 4 Fenugreek The leaves are sold as a vegetable (fresh leaves, sprouts) commonly known as methi. The seeds (menthe)are used as such or as powdered. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) has long been used in ayurveda

How does it affect diabetes? Fenugreek seeds are high in soluble dietary fibre like Galactomannan, which helps lower blood sugar by slowing down digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.

There is a common belief that consumption of overnight soaked fenugreek water in the morning reduces the sugar level in the blood. The protein 4-hydroxy isoleucine found in fenugreek stimulates the insulin secretion in the pancreas and lowers the absorption of glucose, according to a study on mice.

The fiber is classed as gaur gum (gel fiber) and neutral detergent fiber. Dietary fiber consists of all palatable foods that are consumed by single-stomach animals (including humans) and that remain largely undigested upon reaching the large intestine. Humans do not possess the enzyme necessary for splitting the bonds linking the individual fiber units.

Many crude fibers, such as cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectin, are carbohydrates. Lignin, another form of crude fiber, is not a carbohydrate per se, but it is of plant origin and is also indigestible. For every gram of crude fiber, there are roughly two to three grams of dietary fiber...

In Fenugreek seeds, the gum (gel fiber) fraction consists of galactomannan which is made up of galactose and mannose units. According to Ribes et al (1984), the defatted fraction of fenugreek seeds contains 50.2% fiber and consists of gum, hemicellulose, cellulose and
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lignin. These fibers are similar to the commonly used fiber-containing products in terms of digestibility. Low digestibility indicates better fiber functionality, with lower incidence of gastrointestinal disturbances such as bloating due to fermentation by gastrointestinal microflora.

What is defatted? Defatted means a product has had its fat removed. There isn't much in the way of fat in fenugreek seeds anyway, they are relatively low in fat at approximately 6-8g/100g. A question arises whether the fenugreek has to be consumed ONLY as in defatted version and not as we normally consume at home. To attempt to answer this question let us compare both

The chemical composition of Fenugreek seeds and defatted Fenugreek seeds is given below. Whole Fenugreek seeds also contain 4.8% saponins (steroidal nature).

Composition (%) of Fenugreek Seeds(Aprox) ComponentWhole SeedsDefatted Seeds Moisture 9.09.0 Ash 3.03.5 Lipids 8.0Negligible Protein 26.028.3 Starch 6.06.5 Total Fiber 48.051.7 Gum 20.019.2 Neutral Detergent Fib 28.032.5

We do not see much difference in any factor other than fat(lipids), obviously.

Health benefits of fenugreek seeds NSPs (non-starch polysaccharides) increase the bulk of the food and augment bowel movements. Altogether, NSPs assist in smooth digestion and help relieve constipation ailments. It has been established that amino-acid 4-hydroxy isoleucine present in the fenugreek seeds
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has facilitator action on insulin secretion. In addition, fiber in the seeds helps lower rate of glucose absorption in the intestines thus controls blood sugar levels. The seeds are therefore recommended in the diabetic diet.

The seeds contain many phytochemical compounds such as choline, trigonelline diosgenin, yamogenin, gitogenin, tigogenin and neotigogens. Together, these compounds account for the medicinal properties of fenugreeks.

This prized spice is an excellent source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc, manganese, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure by countering action on sodium. Iron is essential for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome-oxidases enzymes.

It is also rich in many vital vitamins that are essential nutrients for optimum health, including thiamin, pyridoxine (vitamin B6), folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A, and vitamin-C.

Medicinal uses of fenugreek seed Its seeds have been used in many traditional medicines as a laxative, digestive, and as a remedy for cough and bronchitis.

If used regularly, fenugreeks may help control cholesterol, triglyceride as well as high blood sugar (glycemic) levels in diabetics.

Fenugreek seeds added to cereals and wheat flour (bread) or made into gruel, given to the nursing mothers to increase milk synthesis.

Multiple studies have been carried out to investigate the potential anti-diabetic benefits of fenugreek. Of these, several clinical trials showed that fenugreek seeds can improve most metabolic symptoms associated with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in humans by lowering blood glucose levels and improving glucose tolerance. In one study, researchers (in India) found that adding 100 grams of defatted fenugreek seed powder to the daily diet of patients
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with insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetes significantly reduced their fasting blood glucose levels, improved glucose tolerance and also lowered total cholesterol, LDL or bad cholesterol and triglycerides.

Pre-clinical Studies An animal study (for 21 days) concluded that the anti-diabetic action of Fenugreek seeds is contained within the fiber-rich testa and endosperm (Ribes et al, 1986).

The authors of another study concluded that Fenugreek seeds are effective in lowering elevated serum choleserol levels, as well as preventing a rise in serum cholesterol when fed along with a hypercholesterolemic diet. The mucilaginous component of Fenugreek seed fibers was most effective in lowering serum cholesterol. Since high cholesterol levels are known to be associated with diabetes, it was proposed that Fenugreek seeds or its defatted portion may be useful in the treatment of diabetes and the associated hypercholesterolemia.

Clinical studies: Type I Diabetes In a study (1990), ten Type I diabetics were given 100 g/day, fenugreek seeds (powdered, defatted and debittered) with meals, for ten days. Fasting glucose levels decreased by 30%, glucose tolerance improved and sugar excretion dropped by 54%.

In this study, the hypocholesterolemic effect of the defatted portion of the seeds were also demonstrated. As compared to the control group, serum cholesterol, LDL and VLDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels were significantly reduced in the treated group.

Type II Diabetes Administration of 25g of defatted Fenugreek seed for a period of three weeks significantly improved the performance of Type II diabetic patients in the glucose tolerance test. Some of the patients under treatment also reduced their insulin requirements from 56 units/day to 20 units/day.

Another study investigated the cholesterol lowering effect of fenugreek in patients with high cholesterol.
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The results of similar double blind studies (R.D.Sharma,1996) on sixty Type II diabetics, treated with 25 g fenugreek seed powder per day, were equally promising in reducing serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This effect was sustained and lasting, and the inclusion of Fenugreek seed powder produced no undesirable side effects. It was therefore concluded that Fenugreek can be considered to be a potentially useful dietary supplement to prevent hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis in Type II diabetic patients.

How does Fenugreek decrease BS? A high-fiber diet is associated with the improved ability to handle blood sugar. In the presence of a high fiber diet, the cells are more sensitive to insulin and an increase in the number of insulin receptor sites occurs or alternatively, there is a stimulation of the cells ability to burn glucose. Certain dietary fibers reduce the rate of food passage through the intestine and into the bloodstream, thereby helping to control the increase in postprandial blood sugar levels. High-fiber diets are associated with less glycosuria (sugar in urine), lower fasting blood sugar levels, and lower insulin requirements. Water-retaining fibers, especially the mucilaginous compounds, such as the gel fiber present in Fenugreek seeds, reduce the rate of glucose absorption and may also delay gastric emptying thereby preventing the rise in blood sugar levels following a meal. In addition to its hypoglycemic effects, the hypolipidemic effect of Fenugreek fibers have also been documented. Therefore, Fenugreek fibers have a dual role to play in the management of diabetes.

1. Hypoglycemic Effect The gel fiber fraction of Fenugreek seeds are thought to be responsible for the hyoglycemic effect. Fenugreek affects blood glucose by reducing glucose uptake from the intestine. The delay in gastric emptying and carbohydrate absorption may be attributed to the gel fraction which increases the viscosity of the digesta.

It was speculated that the reduction in insulin requirement seen in some of the Type II diabetic patients may be due to the Fenugreek fibers improving peripheral insulin sensitivity. Frequently, in Type II patients, insulin secretion is normal or even higher than normal but the reduced number of insulin receptor sites on body cell membranes in these patients leads to insensitivity to insulin, i.e., the cells do not respond to insulin. It has been shown in the past that in the presence of a high fiber diet, an increase in the number of insulin receptor sites occurs and the cells become more sensitive to the action of insulin.
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In the clinical studies, a reduction in urinary excretion of glucose was also observed, indicating greater retention of dietary carbohydrate in the body. As carbohydrate-rich diets are known to improve glucose tolerance, increased carbohydrate retention may be beneficial to diabetics Clinical studies also indicate that diabetics become sensitive to insulin after adaptation to high fiber diets ).

It has been consistently proved that the rise in plasma glucose after a dose of glucose or meal was prevented by fenugreek seeds. The reduction in area under glucose curve was greatest with whole seeds (42.4%), followed by gum isolate (37.5%), extracted seeds (36.9%) and cooked seeds (35.1%) in that order. The degummed seeds (seeds w/o fiber) and fenugreek leaves showed little effect on glycemia.

Hypocholesterolemic effect of fenugreek fiber: It has been shown that the gel fraction of fenugreek fiber reduces serum cholesterol levels. This is achieved through the inhibition of cholesterol absorption from the small intestine. Saponins in fenugreek seeds are known to have hypocholesterolemic effects. When saponins are ingested in isolated or food borne forms, they form large mixed micelles with bile salts and significantly reduce serum cholesterol, by increasing fecal excretion of bile salts, therby inhibiting cholesterol absorption.

ICMR), National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) ,Annual Report 2000, refers to the benefits of 25gms of fenugreek in control of BS

Intl J Diab Dev Countries 1992 Vol12 mentionsatestwith42patientsfor six weeks and mentions that consuming10 gms/day had no effectwhile25gms/day had significant reduction in BS.

Int J Vitan Nutr Res 2009 Jan,79(1) talks of a significant reduction >30%) in BS after a trial on 24patients. This report talks of the seeds soaked in hot water and then consumed before each meals.

What other health benefits does it have?

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Fenugreek seeds are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which help protect the bodys cells from damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. Fenugreek seeds are a good source of protein and nicotinic acid which helps in reducing baldness and hair thinning

Grounded fenugreek seeds along with water can be directly applied on to the pimple and acne marks to heal and remove them.

Coconut oil along with fenugreek seeds helps in preventing hair loss and makes them lustrous. Paste of fenugreek leaves when applied helps in reducing dandruff and acts as a conditioner.

Fenugreek is helpful for lactating mothers and arthritis. It should also be avoided by pregnant women

It is rich in many essential minerals. Iron helps in the production of RBC cells and increases haemoglobin in the body. Potassium helps in lowering the blood pressure ( helps to throw out Sodium from the body) in the body.

How to consume? Fenugreek seeds are readily available in the spice stores all year around. One may find different forms of seeds such as whole seeds, powdered or paste in these stores. Choose whole seeds from authentic brands. The seeds should feature bright golden-yellow color, hard and exude delicate maple flavor. Store whole seeds in airtight glass container and place in a cool, dark place where it will stay fresh for several months. Powdered or paste fenugreek, however, should be kept in the air-sealed packets and placed inside the refrigerator.

It is recommended that glucose levels, cholesterol and lipid profiles are checked before starting on this supplement and after fifteen days to observe the difference and regulate the drug dosage.

Fenugreek is a functional food item. Functional food or medicinal food is any healthy food which has a health-promoting or disease-preventing property beyond the basic function of supplying nutrients. You need to consume it ten to twenty minutes prior to intake of food,
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every time you have a meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks). The amount should be same even if you are taking a small meal or snack i.e. 5 gms. Take with little quantity of water. Lesser quantity will not be effective.

Contra: Fenugreek use during pregnancy is not recommended, since it has the potential to induce labor. If you are pregnant and wish to take it, you should do so only after consultation with your doctor.

If you are currently taking any oral medications, you should always use this herb at least 2 hours before or after these drugs. This is important since Fenugreek fiber has the potential to interfere with the absorption of oral medications due to its mucilaginous fiber (which gives it a moist and sticky texture).

MY TAKE: Take soaked (hot or cold water) fenugreek seeds before each food intake

If you are using powdered seeds, keep it in fridge in air tight container Soaked and sprouted seeds Are they better? Use them in dosa/Idli batter. Many people are already using like this.

Add the methi powder along with your chapati powder. Monitor BS every 15 days and adjust the dose of your other medicines

Fenugreek seeds do NOT cure diabetes but helps in BS control. If you are looking for fiber in your food, you can add Basil seeds, Chia seeds, Sabja (Falooda) seeds and Psyllium husk in your food intake.

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