The herb was highlighted because, according to the researchers, fenugreek is used in traditional Chinese medicine to counter high serum glucose and lipids, considered organic pathologic metabolites that belong to the phlegm and dampness caused by deficiency of yang.
“Now that fenugreek is so widely used for the treatment of [diabetes mellitus] in many countries around the world, it is necessary to evaluate the effectiveness and safety in hyperglycemic patients to optimize clinical decision making,” they wrote in their report, published recently in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.
Results: Benefits on total cholesterol and fasting blood glucose levels
Ten articles were included in the analysis, published between 1997 and 2015. Four studies were conducted in India; three were from China, and the other three studies were from Bangladesh, Iran, and Egypt. Total sample size was 1173 participants, and the treatment dose of fenugreek ranges from 1 to 100 g (median was 6.3 g).
Isolating fenugreek’s effects on fasting blood glucose, the pooled results showed that “fenugreek significantly ameliorates fasting blood glucose,” the researchers wrote, adding that it was a sum of nine of the analyzed studies with various publication years, regions, treatment duration, dosage, and delivery form of fenugreek.
Additionally, fenugreek supplementation led to a lowering of total cholesterol. However, they found no statistically significant changes regarding triglycerides, low density lipoprotein cholesterol and high density lipoprotein cholesterol in prediabetics.
“There were significant differences on the treatment effect of HDL-c between fenugreek seed powder and other groups, which hinted that different methods of herbal process (including debitterised, defatted, alcohol extraction methods, and so on) may influence the effective lipid-improving components of fenugreek,” the researchers wrote.
They added: “The establishment and implementation of quality standards and extraction process would be better solutions to the differences of fenugreek treatment effects.”
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Source: Journal of Ethnopharmacology
Published online ahead of print, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2016.08.003
"Effect of fenugreek on hyperglycaemia and hyperlipidemia in diabetes and prediabetes: A meta-analysis"
Authors: Jing Gong, Ke Fang, Hui Dong, Dingkun Wang, Meilin Hu, Fuer Lu