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Clinical Trial of Fenugreek: For Cholesterol and Blood Sugar Levels of Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetics.
Fenugreek seeds (Trigonella foenum-graecum L., Fabaceae) are high in fiber and are used as a condiment in India. In a short-term study conducted with diabetics,(*) who die of cardiovascular conditions 2-3 times more often than non-diabetics, fenugreek seeds were found to exert hypocholesterolemic (cholesterol-lowering) and hypoglycemic (blood sugar-lowering) effects. A long-term study was undertaken to determine the hypolipidemic (reducing fats in blood) effect of fenugreek seeds. Sixty non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus patients underwent a metabolic period of one week as a control, and then an experimental period lasting 24 weeks. During the experimental period, each subject consumed 25 g of powdered fenugreek seed, divided into two servings and consumed as soup 15 minutes prior to lunch and dinner. Blood samples were taken after an overnight fast at the end of the control period and at 4, 8, 12, and 24 weeks. Serum cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels were measured and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol was calculated.

The results of the study were illustrated in a table, not included here. Serum cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL and very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol levels showed a steady decrease during the 24-week period of the study. HDL cholesterol showed a 10 percent total increase. The selective activity of fenugreek to reduce LDL and VLDL could make it beneficial in preventing atherosclerosis. Because it affects glucose and insulin levels, it can be considered to be of potential use in preventing atherosclerosis and hyperlipidemia in diabetics. No adverse side effects were reported.

[Sharma, R. D., A. Sarkar, D. K. Hazra, B. Misra, J. B. Singh, B. B. Maheshwari, and S. K. Sharma. 1996. Hypolipidaemic Effect of Fenugreek Seeds: a Chronic Study in Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetic Patients. Phytotherapy Research, Vol. 10, pp. 332-334.]

(*) Cases drawn from Diabetics Clinics, Outpatients Department and Indoor of Postgraduate Department of Medicine, S. N. Medical College, Agra, India.

Article copyright American Botanical Council.


By Ginger Webb