An extract from the herb fenugreek may make people feel full, which can help reduce the amount of food consumed and help with weight loss. The results of this recent study are reported in the journal Phytotherapy Research.
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) has been used historically to treat digestive disorders and menopausal symptoms, but in recent years it has been gaining popularity to reduce appetite and thus assist with weight loss. It is also used to treat diabetes, induce breast milk flow, and is applied topically as a treatment for inflammation.
Fenugreek seeds are a rich source of a polysaccharide called galactomannan, the component that was extracted from the herb for the current study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health and Frutaron, a supplement manufacturer. The researchers from the University of Minnesota and Frutaron found that study participants who consumed 8 grams of a powder from fenugreek experienced significant feelings of fullness. Feelings of satiety can be helpful in weight loss efforts.
The study included 18 obese individuals who were assigned to receive either 4 to 8 grams of the fenugreek extract or a placebo stirred into a beverage that accompanied a standardized breakfast. Participants were asked to rate their feelings of hunger, satiety, fullness, and prospective food intake every 30 minutes for 3.5 hours after breakfast. Although neither the placebo nor the 4 gram dose resulted in any significant difference in any of the factors, the 8 gram dose caused a statistically significant increase in fullness and satiety. Therefore this dose may be the most effective for individuals who want to include the supplement as part of theirweight loss efforts.
The researchers noted that the fenugreek powder they used in the study contained more than 75 percent soluble fiber, a substance that is known to increase satiety and fullness. Products that contain soluble fiber, including psyllium, gums, pectins, and glucomannan, are often used to promote weight loss. Soluble fibers are also found in vegetables, wheat, flaxseed, and cereals.
Mathern JR et al. Phytotherapy Research 2009 April 7.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Written by Deborah Mitchell
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