Fenugreek got a mention from Dr. Atkins (of Atkins Diet fame) in his book, “Dr Atkins Vita-nutrient Solution”. He hits on the most important use of Fenugreek, as a blood sugar regulator for sufferers of Type I and Type II Diabetes.
This is only part of the story though – Fenugreek has been used by herbologists to treat conditions as varied as indigestion, delayed labor and the common cold.
And Fenugreek's history traces back into Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, not to mention ancient Egyptian remedies.
Fenugreek is a small plant native to the Middle East. It has a long history of use, with some medicinal recipes dating back 4,000 years, and seeds being discovered in the tomb of Tutankhamen.
Fenugreek acts in the stomach by reducing the amount of sugar that our bodies are able to absorb from food. This is extremely important for sufferers of Diabetes, who must regulate their blood sugar at all times. Of course, Fenugreek is not a substitute for a doctor-recommended treatment, but may sometimes be of assistance.
Fenugreek has also shown promise in reducing cholesterol. This is also of particular use for Diabetics, as they tend to have elevated cholesterol levels. Tests on non-Diabetic patients have not yet found the same results though.
New mothers in India often take Fenugreek to promote breast milk supply. Indeed, mothers have been taking in for centuries throughout Asia, Eastern Europe and North Africa. It has also been used to hasten labor (so pregnant mothers should be careful to avoid it) and to promote a healthy menstrual cycle.
As you might expect, by reducing the sugar absorption in your stomach Fenugreek can also help dieters to lose weight. It effectively allows the carbs to wash straight through your system without entering the bloodstream. As such, dieters should not combine it with a very low carb diet. This does however make it very useful for anyone suffering from Candida overgrowth, as it tends to prevent the spikes in blood sugar that can lead to Candida.
If you’ve ever eaten an Indian meal and noticed a maple syrup (or curry) aroma coming from your sweat, then you’ve eaten Fenugreek. Popular in Eastern cuisine, both the seeds and leaves are used as flavoring in many spicy dishes. Also in India, Fenugreek is mixed with yogurt to make an effective hair conditioner!
In ancient Egypt, Fenugreek was used somewhat differently. Its seeds were prized as a main ingredient in embalming fluid, whereas its aroma was highly valued for producing incense.
Fenugreek has acquired quite a reputation in the Orient as an aphrodisiac. The leaves can be made into an infusion, or roasted as a coffee substitute, then drunk. If drunk as a tea it can also aid with congestion by loosening phlegm.
Either brew a tea from the Fenugreek leaves, or buy it in the powdered form from your local pharmacy. Fenugreek normally comes in pills or capsules.
Fenugreek is a relatively safe substance to take, but minor side effects like diarrhea, flatulence and mild weight loss have been reported. Due its role in promoting menstruation, pregnant women especially should avoid taking Fenugreek. Patients should, of course, always consult their doctor before beginning a herbal treatment course.