Fenugreek seeds (Trigonella foenum-graecum) were the subject of an Indian clinical study involving 10 insulin-dependent diabetics. Patients' ages ranged from 12 years old to 37 years old, and included some in whom diabetes had recently been detected, and some who had been insulin-dependent diabetics for up to 15 years. Patients were maintained on a low dose of insulin which was"not enough to maintain the blood sugar at normal level." The study was conducted over a period of 20 days, allowing each patient to take the fenugreek seeds for 10 days, and a control for 10 days. The treatment consisted of 100 g of "debitterized powdered fenugreek seeds" served during lunch and dinner. In all other particulars, the diet of the control group was identical to that of the experimental group.

Results: The fenugreek diet reduced the 24 hour urinary sugar excretion 54% and also reduced serum total cholesterol, triglyceride levels and levels of the harmful LDL and VDL cholesterol without significantly effecting the "good" HDL. Glucose tolerance also improved in the fenugreek experimental group. This experiment involving Type I diabetic patients was in agreement with earlier observations made in Type II diabetic patients. Interestingly, the levels of serum insulin in the control and experimental groups were similar, while the blood glucose levels were significantly lower in the experimental group. "This suggests that the experimental diet containing fenugreek improved the body's sensitivity to insulin." The authors speculate that the improvements are the result of a very rich content of fiber (51.7%), which resembles guar gum in chemical structure and viscosity. Guar gum has also shown beneficial effects for insulin-dependent diabetics. An added benefit of fenugreek is that the seeds are also rich in protein (28%), which is especially important to diabetics in developing countries "since a high proportion of diabetic patients in the tropics and subtropics suffer from malnutrition." (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1990, 44, 301-306.)

American Botanical Council.


By Rob McCaleb

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