Fenugreek: What is it?
Fenugreek is a medicinal plant native to Asia and southern Europe. It is cultivated as a semi – arid crop worldwide, it grows about two feet tall and it is also considered a legume. Its seeds are used to make medicine. They are very bitter in taste and have a pungent aroma which is similar to burnt celery. The other names are bockshornsame, Greek hay and bird’s foot. Fenugreek is used for many ailments such as kidney disease, bronchitis, mouth ulcers, cancer as well as lowering blood sugar in diabetics. It is included as an ingredient in spice blends and its extracts are used in cosmetics and soaps.
Studies Done on Fenugreek
Many studies have shown that fenugreek is highly beneficial and can help in treating certain diseases. A double blind placebo study was conducted to determine the effects of fenugreek seeds on insulin resistance and glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. According to the researchers, it reduced blood glucose levels and insulin considerably with a favorable effect on hypertriglyceridemia which is associated with an increased risk of acute pancreatitis and cardiovascular events.
Another study done on fenugreek proved that it has a therapeutic potential. Researchers found that treatment with 10-15 ug/mL of FE for 72 hours inhibited the growth of prostate, breast and pancreatic cancer cell lines.
Health Benefits of Fenugreek
Fenugreek seeds are enriched with minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron, copper, potassium, selenium, magnesium and manganese. It also contains several vitamins which include folic acid, pyridoxine, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin as well as vitamin A and C. It also provides polysaccharides such as tannin, hemicellulose, pectin, saponins and mucilage that help to reduce the levels of bad cholesterol by prohibiting the absorption of bile salts into the colon. Fenugreek is also considered as an aphrodisiac, and numerous studies tout its ability to increase men libido.
Weight Control and Fenugreek
Maintaining a normal weight is very difficult without using any supplements, so it is important to provide your body sufficient nutrients that could prove highly encouraging. Fenugreek is an interesting nutrient, few human studies have confirmed that it is a successful appetite suppressant and can control hunger pangs. Chevassus et al found that consumption of about 1g of Fenugreek extract helps to decrease fat intake in overweight individuals.
Side Effects of Fenugreek
Fenugreek is considered safe when taken by mouth in normal amount. However it is possibly safe if taken in amounts used for medicinal purposes. There are some reported side effects which include bloating, diarrhea, gas and stomach upset. It can also cause wheezing, nasal congestion, coughing, allergic reactions and facial swelling in hypersensitive individuals.
Fenugreek can interact with medications used to control diabetes as well as with medications that are taken to slow blood clotting.