Trigonella foenum-graecum, Fenugrec
Part of the plant used: seeds
In Europe, fenugreek is a common herbaceous annual plant that can reach 50cm in height. Fenugreek seeds have been used for centuries as a spice and probably, in folk medicine, for their medicinal properties. They are used to treat boils, diabetes, tuberculosis, skin infections (cellulitis) as well as gastrointestinal disturbances. They have been attributed anti-inflammatory properties. Animal studies have shown that fenugreek might reduce cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Fenugreek affects intestinal transit and delays glucose absorption. In addition, the constituent 4-isoleucine may have a direct stimulatory effect on insulin.
In manufacturing, fenugreek extract is used in soaps and cosmetics, in spice blends and as flavoring agent in imitation maple syrup as well as in some beverages.
There is insufficient reliable information to conclude that fenugreek seeds are effective in any other indication.
In 2004, Canada adopted new regulations that control the manufacturing, packaging, labeling and importing of natural health products. The new regulations also include an adverse reaction reporting system. Products that conform to the regulation's criteria are identified with a natural product number (NPN) and can be legally sold in Canada. This number indicates that the product meets specific criteria for safety and purity, not that it is effective for any indication.
Medicinal plant contents vary naturally from plant to plant - just as fruits from the same package may vary in taste and texture. There is no standard to measure the active content of each plant. Thus, efficacy of natural products should be expected to vary from brand to brand as well as from bottle to bottle of the same brand.
For more information about the Natural Health Products Regulations, or to check if a product has been assessed, visit the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/index-eng.php.
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