Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fenugreek Lowers Glycemic Index and Blood Sugar

Before we discuss the effect of Fenugreek on Glycemic Index (GI), we should understand the effect of GI on blood sugar.
Glycemic Index can only be applied to foods with a reasonable carbohydrates content. Carbohydrates that breakdown rapidly during digestion have the highest Glycemic Index (GI).
A lower glycemic response equates to a lower Insulin demand, better long-term blood glucose control and a reduction in blood lipids. A low glycemic index food will release energy slowly and steadily and is generally appropriate for every one, specially diabetics and dieters.
Several lines of recent scientific evidence have shown that individuals who followed a low GI diet over many years at a significant lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes and coronary heart diseases.
Recently, postprandial (after meal) hyperglycemia presents an increased risk for atherosclerosis in the diabetic population.Recent animal research provides compelling evidence that high GI carbohydrates is associated with increased risk of obesity.

Fenugreek seeds contain nutrients and phyto-chemicals that slow down the time that food takes to go through the intestinal tract. As one result, sugars are absorbed from foods more slowly and blood sugar levels may not rise as high or fluctuate as much as usual. Also, fenugreek contains an amino acid called 4-hydroxyisoleucine, which appears to increase the body's production of insulin when blood sugar levels are high. Higher insulin production may decrease the amounts of sugar that stay in the blood for many individuals. In some studies of animals and humans with both diabetes and high cholesterol levels, fenugreek lowered cholesterol levels as well as blood sugar levels. However, no blood-sugar lowering effect was seen in non-diabetic animals. Similarly individuals with normal cholesterol levels showed no significant reductions in cholesterol while taking fenugreek.

Pregnant women should not take fenugreek by mouth. In animal studies, fenugreek has caused contractions of uterine tissue. Such contractions could result in a miscarriage if they happen during pregnancy. In addition, fenugreek passes into the blood of developing babies.

Major Side Effects
It is possible that taking large amounts of fenugreek for very long periods of time could result in hypoglycemia (blood sugar that is too low). Signs that blood sugar may be too low include shakiness, sweating, confusion, distorted speech, and loss of muscle control. If not corrected, low blood sugar can lead to unconsciousness and even death.

Less Severe Side Effects
Due to its effects on the gastrointestinal tract, most side effects reported from using fenugreek orally are gastrointestinal in nature. They include diarrhea and gas.
Taking fenugreek by mouth may make the urine smell somewhat like maple syrup. A relatively rare serious metabolic disorder also causes a similar smell in the urine of affected individuals. Cases of misdiagnosis have been reported in medical literature when small children or pregnant or lactating women who took fenugreek had a maple sugar-like smell in their urine.

What interactions should I watch for?
Prescription Drugs
Fenugreek contains small amounts of coumarins, chemicals that are used in drugs to increase the time blood needs to clot. When very large amounts of fenugreek are taken with antiplatelet or anticoagulant drugs, the effect of the drug may be increased, resulting in uncontrolled bleeding.
Antiplatelets include Plavix and Ticlid. Anticoagulants include heparin and warfarin.
Because it may have a lowering effect on blood sugar, fenugreek may increase the effectiveness of medications used for the treatment of diabetes. If you are taking medications for diabetes, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before using fenugreek.
When mixed with water or other fluids, fenugreek forms a sticky, slippery gel. In theory, taking fenugreek by mouth could block the absorption of other drugs that are taken at the same time. If you take fenugreek, do not take other drugs within 2 hours.
Non-prescription Drugs
Large amounts of fenugreek taken by mouth possibly may affect the ability of blood to clot after an injury. Aspirin can also delay clotting, so fenugreek should not be taken orally at the same time as aspirin.

Herbal Products
Theoretically, if fenugreek is used with other herbs that affect blood clotting, bleeding may occur. Some of the most common herbal products that might inhibit blood clotting are:
Danshen-Devil's-Claw-Garlic-Ginger-Ginkgo-Ginseng-Horse-Chestnut-Papain-Red-Clover-Saw Palmetto.
Some interactions between herbal products and medications can be more severe than others. The best way for you to avoid harmful interactions is to tell your doctor and/or pharmacist what medications you are currently taking, including any over-the-counter products, vitamins, and herbals. For specific information on how fenugreek interacts with drugs, other herbals, and foods and the severity of those interactions, please use this Drug Interactions Checker to check for possible interactions.

Dosage and Administration
No more than 6,000 mg (6 grams) of fenugreek should be taken by mouth per day.

Commercially, fenugreek is available as whole or ground seed and also as capsules, bulk powder, and a liquid tincture. Common dosing recommendations for fenugreek suggest taking 1,000 mg to 2,000 mg (one gram to 2 grams) three times a day. It is usually taken with food because it has a bitter taste.
Fenugreek tea is prepared by soaking 500 mg of the seed in about 5 ounces of cold water for at least 3 hours. The seeds are then strained out of the liquid before drinking the tea, which can be heated or ingested cold. It can be sweetened using honey to maximize its benefits.

Fenugreek is used in some countries as an official treatment of type2 Diabetes Mellitus.

You can get Fenugreek capsules here

Living with Type II Diabetes?

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