A cura di Chiara Corino e Manuele Formenti
The fenugreek (Trigonella Foenum Graecum) is an annual plant of the family Fabaceae.
Trigonelline is the alkaloid contained in Trigonella foenum graecum.
Trigonella Foenum Graecum is one of the widely used herbs in food and medicine. The seeds of fenugreek are used as a food supplement, and also have a long history of medicinal use for labor induction, helping digestion and improving metabolism and health. They are also used in many parts of the world for their carminative, tonic, aphrodisiac effects, and above all for the type II diabetes disease.
Diabetes is a metabolic alteration that causes a fall in insulin activity. Especially, it can be induced by a lower availability of this hormone, by an obstacle to its normal function, or by both of them.
Hyperglycaemia is one of the characteristic ever-present in diabetes, associated also with blood vessels complications.
Conventional therapies for type II diabetes mellitus are frequently associated with severe adverse drug reactions and high costs of treatment. Herbal medications have long been used in the treatment and prevention of the pathology in traditional medicine all over the world. So fenugreek is considered a promising agent for diabetes and its complications.
The seeds of the fenugreek were investigated for antidiabetic potential; this work is the first designed to investigate the inhibitory potential of ethyl acetate and water extract of T. foenum-graecum on enzymes α-amylase and α-glucosidase. In the current study, fenugreek demonstrated α-amylase and α-glucosidase inhibitory potential which may serve as a lead for isolation and identification of compounds responsible for it.
The effects of the hydro-alcoholic extract of T. foenum-graecum seeds in a mouse model of diabetes induced by a standardised high-fat diet (HFD). T. foenum-graecum extracts opposed the development of diabetes: compared with untreated HFD mice, T. foenum-graecum -treated HFD mice had lower mean plasma glucose, plasma insulin and triglycerides, and less insulin resistance as estimated by the homeostasis model assessment. In mice with established diabetes, T. foenum-graecum reduced fasting plasma glucose, plasma insulin and insulin resistance. In addition, administration of T. foenum-graecum extract also caused significant reduction in triglycerides and total cholesterol, and an increase in HDL-cholesterol. The plant extract had no effect on calorie intake or body weight (Metabolic and molecular action of Trigonella foenum-graecum and trace metals in experimental diabetic tissues; Preventive and curative effect of Trigonella foenum-graecum L. seeds in C57BL/6J models of type 2 diabetes induced by high-fat diet; Hypoglycemic and antioxidative effects of fenugreek and termis seeds powder in streptozotocin-diabetic rats).
Animals studies have shown that extract of fenugreek seeds can lower blood glucose levels, like in diabetes: administration of Trigonella foenum graecum, seed powder to diabetic animals has been shown to lower blood glucose levels and partially restore the activities of key enzymes of carbohydrates and lipid metabolism to near normal levels in various animal models. The components responsible and the mechanism by which Trigonella exerts their effects are not clearly understood. However, earlier studies have shown the presence of steroid saponins in Trigonella seeds. Saponin compounds diasgenin, alkaloids and trigonelline – inhibit intestinal glucose uptake in vitro (Mechanism of Action of Ahypoglycemic Principle Isolated from Fenugreek Seeds; Effect of Trigonella foenum graecum on blood glucose in normal and diabetic rats; Evaluation of anti-hyperglycemic and hypoglycemic effect of Trigonella foenum-graecum Linn, Ocimum sanctum Linn and Pterocarpus marsupium Linn in normal and alloxanized diabetic rats).
A study conducted in double blind placebo shows that use of fenugreek seeds improves glycemic control and decreases insulin resistance in mild type-2 diabetic patients; and that there is also a favourable effect on hypertriglyceridemia (Effect of Trigonella foenum-graecum seeds on glycaemic control and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a double blind placebo controlled study).
This study also validated the traditional use of such natural remedies of indigenous plants-origin for the treatment of diabetes mellitus. However, large scale and multicentric clinical trials are still required to establish the usefulness of this indigenous drug. Similarly, activity-directed phytochemical studies are required to isolate pure active compounds from the extracts. Such researches might help in finding new models of chemical compounds, taking T. foenum-graecum seeds along with diet as a modulator in the treatment of diabetes mellitus, and finally forming a part of therapy in its management (Antihyperglycemic Effect of Trigonella Foenum-Graecum Seed Extract in Alloxan-Induced Diabetic Rats and Its Use in Diabetes Mellitus: A Brief Qualitative Phytochemical and Acute Toxicity Test on the Extract).
The development of type 2 diabetes mellitus is strongly influenced by eating practices. Also once diagnosed, a critical part of treatment is the modification of a lifetime of food and eating habits. Functional herbal foods, like Trigonella Foenum Graecum, might have a particularly high impact for prevention or treatment of overweight and diabetes for which, more than in many other fields.
It is hoped that the information provided in the previous works will help the conventional medicine for the development of an alternative methods rather than insulin and oral hypoglycemic agents for the treatment of diabetes mellitus, which will minimize the complication associated with the diabetes and related disorder.