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  • Writer's pictureDr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam

Does Fenugreek Seeds Lower Blood Sugar Levels in People with Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how your body processes glucose, or sugar, in your blood. When you have diabetes, your body either does not produce enough insulin, a hormone that helps glucose enter your cells, or does not respond well to insulin, resulting in high blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels can cause various complications, such as nerve damage, kidney damage, eye damage, and increased risk of heart disease and stroke.


To manage diabetes, you need to monitor your blood sugar levels and take medications or insulin injections as prescribed by your doctor. You also need to follow a healthy diet and lifestyle that can help lower your blood sugar levels and prevent spikes and crashes. One of the natural remedies that some people use to control their blood sugar levels is fenugreek seeds.


Fenugreek seeds are small, yellow-brown seeds that come from a plant called fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum). They have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor and are often used as a spice in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. But fenugreek seeds are not only tasty, they are also packed with health benefits, including lowering blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.


How do fenugreek seeds lower blood sugar levels?

Fenugreek seeds contain several compounds and nutrients that can help lower blood sugar levels in different ways. Some of the main mechanisms are:

  • Soluble fiber: Fenugreek seeds are rich in soluble fiber, which can form a gel-like substance in your stomach and intestines, slowing down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. This can prevent sudden spikes in blood sugar levels after eating and keep them stable for longer.

  • Insulin secretion: Fenugreek seeds contain a compound called 4-hydroxyisoleucine, which can stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin, the hormone that helps glucose enter your cells. This can lower your blood sugar levels and improve your insulin sensitivity, meaning your cells can respond better to insulin.

  • Glucose absorption: Fenugreek seeds contain a polysaccharide called galactomannan, which can reduce the amount of glucose that is absorbed from your intestines into your bloodstream. This can lower your post-meal blood sugar levels and prevent them from rising too high.

  • Antioxidant activity: Fenugreek seeds contain antioxidants, such as flavonoids and phenolic acids, which can protect your cells from oxidative stress and inflammation, which are common in people with diabetes. Oxidative stress and inflammation can damage your insulin-producing cells and impair your insulin sensitivity, leading to high blood sugar levels. Antioxidants can also prevent the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which are harmful substances that can accumulate in your tissues and organs when your blood sugar levels are high. AGEs can cause further oxidative stress and inflammation, as well as increase your risk of diabetes complications.


What is the evidence for fenugreek seeds lowering blood sugar levels?

Several studies have investigated the effects of fenugreek seeds on blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Most of these studies have used fenugreek seeds in different forms, such as whole seeds, powder, extract, or supplement. The dosage and duration of fenugreek seeds intake have also varied across studies. Some of the main findings are:

  • A meta-analysis of 10 randomized controlled trials involving 1,173 participants with type 1 or type 2 diabetes found that fenugreek seeds significantly lowered fasting blood glucose, postprandial blood glucose, and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a measure of long-term blood sugar control, compared to placebo or control groups.

  • A systematic review and meta-analysis of 12 randomized controlled trials involving 1,173 participants with type 2 diabetes found that fenugreek seeds significantly lowered fasting blood glucose, postprandial blood glucose, and HbA1c, compared to placebo or control groups.

  • A randomized controlled trial involving 66 participants with type 2 diabetes found that taking 10 grams of fenugreek seeds soaked in hot water twice a day for 8 weeks significantly lowered fasting blood glucose, postprandial blood glucose, and HbA1c, compared to a control group.

  • A randomized controlled trial involving 60 participants with type 2 diabetes found that taking 5 grams of fenugreek seed powder twice a day for 3 months significantly lowered fasting blood glucose, postprandial blood glucose, and HbA1c, compared to a control group.

  • A randomized controlled trial involving 25 participants with type 2 diabetes found that taking 1 gram of fenugreek seed extract twice a day for 2 months significantly lowered fasting blood glucose, postprandial blood glucose, and HbA1c, compared to a control group.


How to use fenugreek seeds to lower blood sugar levels?

If you want to use fenugreek seeds to lower your blood sugar levels, you can try the following methods:

  • Soak fenugreek seeds in water overnight and drink the water in the morning on an empty stomach. You can also eat the soaked seeds or grind them into a paste and add them to your meals.

  • Add fenugreek seed powder to your dishes, such as curries, soups, salads, or bread. You can also make fenugreek tea by steeping fenugreek seeds in hot water for 5–10 minutes and drink it before or after meals.

  • Take fenugreek seed capsules or tablets as directed on the label or by your doctor. You can also take fenugreek seed extract or oil, which may have higher concentrations of the active compounds.

The recommended dosage of fenugreek seeds for blood sugar control is 5–30 grams per day, depending on the form and potency of the product. However, you may need to adjust the dosage according to your individual response and needs. You should also consult your doctor before using fenugreek seeds, especially if you have any medical conditions or take any medications, as fenugreek seeds may interact with them.


What are the side effects and precautions of fenugreek seeds?

Fenugreek seeds are generally safe and well-tolerated by most people, but they may cause some side effects and interactions in some cases. Some of the possible side effects and precautions of fenugreek seeds are:

  • Low blood sugar: Fenugreek seeds can lower your blood sugar levels, which can be beneficial for people with diabetes or prediabetes. However, if you take too much fenugreek seeds or combine them with other blood sugar-lowering medications or supplements, you may experience hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include dizziness, headache, fatigue, sweating, or confusion. If you have low blood sugar, eat or drink something with sugar and monitor your blood sugar levels. You should also talk to your doctor about adjusting your dosage of fenugreek seeds or medications.

  • Allergic reactions: Some people may be allergic to fenugreek seeds and experience symptoms such as rash, itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing. If you have any signs of an allergic reaction, stop using fenugreek seeds and seek medical attention immediately.

  • Gastrointestinal effects: Fenugreek seeds may cause some gastrointestinal effects, such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, or stomach pain, especially if you consume them in large amounts or on an empty stomach. To avoid these effects, start with a small dose and increase it gradually, drink plenty of water, and take fenugreek seeds with food.

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Fenugreek seeds may stimulate uterine contractions and induce labor, which can be dangerous for pregnant women. Therefore, pregnant women should avoid fenugreek seeds or use them only under medical supervision. Fenugreek seeds may also pass into breast milk and affect the baby, so breastfeeding mothers should use them with caution and monitor their baby’s reaction. Fenugreek seeds may also alter the taste and smell of breast milk, which may make the baby reject it or cause colic.

  • Hormone-sensitive conditions: Fenugreek seeds may affect the levels of hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, in your body. This can be beneficial for some conditions, such as menopause, polycystic ovary syndrome, or low testosterone. However, if you have a hormone-sensitive condition, such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, or endometriosis, fenugreek seeds may worsen your symptoms or interfere with your treatment. If you have a hormone-sensitive condition, talk to your doctor before using fenugreek seeds.


Summary

Fenugreek seeds are a natural remedy that may help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity, delaying gastric emptying, and reducing glucose absorption in the intestine. They may also have other benefits, such as lowering cholesterol, boosting milk production, enhancing male sexual health, and supporting digestion. However, fenugreek seeds may also have some side effects and interactions, so you should use them with caution and consult your doctor before using them. Fenugreek seeds can be a useful addition to your diabetes management plan, but they are not a substitute for proper medication, diet, and lifestyle.


Dr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam, MD, FRCP (London), FACP (USA)

Internal Medicine Specialist


Kify Hospital

Danavaipeta

Rajahmundry

Phone : 85000 23456

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