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Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)

A tropical grass native to southern India and Sri Lanka, yielding an aromatic oil used as flavoring and in perfumery and medicine.

Description

Resembling a gigantic weed, lemongrass is an aromatic tropical plant with long, slender blades that can grow to a height of 5 ft (1.5 m). Believed to have a wide range of therapeutic effects, the herb has been used for centuries in South America and India and has also become popular in the United States. Aside from folk medicine, lemongrass is a favorite ingredient in Thai cuisine and dishes that boast a tangy, Asian flavor. While there are several species of lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratus is the variety most often recommended for medicinal purposes. Native to Southeast Asia, lemongrass can also be found growing in India, South America, Africa, Australia, and the United States. Only the fresh or dried leaves of lemongrass, and the essential oil derived from them, are used as a drug. Cymbopogon citratus, which belongs to the Poaceae family of plants, is also referred to as West Indian lemongrass.

Not to be confused with lemon balm, which is an entirely different herb, lemongrass is considered by herbalists to have several useful properties, including antibacterial, antifungal, and fever-reducing effects. Some of these claims have been supported by animal and laboratory studies. In one test-tube investigation, published in the medical journal Microbios in 1996, researchers demonstrated that lemongrass was effective against 22 strains of bacteria and 12 types of fungi. Scientific research has also bolstered the herb’s reputation as an analgesic and sedative. A study conducted in rodents suggests that myrcene, a chemical found in the essential oil of Cymbopogon citratus, may act as a site-specific pain reliever. Unlike aspirin and similar analgesics, which tend to alleviate pain throughout the body, myrcene seems to work only on particular areas. A study involving people indicates that lemongrass may also affect the way the body processes cholesterol.

More recently, lemongrass has been shown to have antimutagenic properties; that is, researchers have found that it is able to reverse chemically induced mutations in certain strains of bacteria.

While they may not be aware of it, most Americans have already tried lemongrass in one form or another. Citral, a key chemical found in Cymbopogon citratus, is an ingredient in a variety of foods and beverages (including alcohol). It can be found in candies, puddings, baked goods, meat products, and even in certain fats and oils. Citral is a pale yellow liquid that evaporates rapidly at room temperature. Like other essential oils, lemongrass is also used as a fragrance enhancer in many perfumes, soaps, and detergents.

General Use

While not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), lemongrass reportedly has a wide variety of therapeutic effects. Because the herb has not been studied extensively in people, its effectiveness is based mainly on the results of animal and laboratory studies as well as its centuries-old reputation as a folk remedy. Lemongrass is one of the most popular plant medicines in Brazil, where it is used to treat nervous disorders and stomach problems. In the Amazon, lemongrass is highly regarded as a sedative tea.

When taken internally, lemongrass has been recommended for stomachaches, diarrhea, gas, bowel spasms, vomiting, fever, the flu, and headaches and other types of pain. The herb (or its essential oil) may be applied externally to help treat acne, athlete’s foot, lower back pain, sciatica, sprains, tendinitis, neuralgia, and rheumatism. To treat circulatory disorders, some authorities recommend rubbing a few drops of lemongrass oil on the skin of affected areas; it is believed to work by improving blood flow. Like many essential oils, lemongrass is also used in aromatherapy.

The link between lemongrass and cholesterol was investigated by researchers from the Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Wisconsin, who published their findings in the medical journal Lipids in 1989. They conducted a clinical trial involving 22 people with high cholesterol who took 140-mg capsules of lemongrass oil daily. While cholesterol levels were only slightly affected in some of the participants—cholesterol was lowered from 310 to 294 on average—other people in the study experienced a significant decrease in blood fats. The latter group, characterized as responders, experienced a 25-point drop in cholesterol after one month, and this positive trend continued over the course of the short study. After three months, cholesterol levels among the responders had decreased by a significant 38 points. Once the responders stopped taking lemongrass, their cholesterol returned to previous levels. It should be noted that this study did not involve a placebo group, which is usually used to help measure the effects of the agent being studied (in this case, lemongrass oil).

Considered an antiseptic and astringent, essential oil of lemongrass is also used by some people to cleanse oily skin and help close pores. Some herbalists recommend mixing a few drops of lemongrass with a normal portion of mild shampoo to combat greasy hair. Lemongrass essential oil can also be used as a deodorant to curb perspiration.

Last but not least, the herb has a strong reputation as an insect repellent. It is an important ingredient in several products designed to keep bugs at bay. Some authorities recommend rubbing the crushed herb directly on exposed areas of skin to avoid insect bites when enjoying the great outdoors.

The relative safety and stability of lemongrass oil has recommended it to pharmaceutical researchers who are testing new methods of quantitative analysis. Lemongrass oil has been used to demonstrate the superiority of near-infrared spectroscopy to older methods of determining the chemical content of plant oils.

Preparations

The optimum daily dosage of lemongrass, which is available as fresh or dried herb or as lemongrass oil, has not been established with any certainty. Because lemongrass has been recommended for so many different purposes, and can be used internally and externally, consumers are advised to consult a doctor experienced in the use of alternative remedies to determine proper dosage. There is a significant difference between the external use of a few drops of essential oil, and the use of larger amounts of the herb in a tincture or tea.

Lemongrass tea can be prepared by steeping 1–2 tsp of the herb (fresh or dried) in a cup of boiling water. The mixture should be strained after 10–15 minutes. The tea is generally taken several times a day. In Heinerman’s Encyclopedia of Healing Herbs & Spices, John Heinerman recommends using one cup of lemongrass tea every four hours to reduce fever. In the Green Pharmacy, prominent herbalist James Duke recommends drinking one to four cups of lemongrass tea a day to benefit from its anti-fungal properties. The used tea bags can also be applied externally as fungi-fighting compresses, according to the author.

To alleviate gas or persistent vomiting, Heinerman recommends a dose of 3–6 drops of lemongrass oil (the Cymbopogon citratus variety). It may be placed on a sugar cube or mixed with 1 tsp of real vanilla flavor before swallowing. For sciatica, lower back pain, sprains, tendinitis, and rheumatism, the author suggests rubbing 10 drops of the essential oil onto the skin of the affected areas.

Precautions

Lemongrass is not known to be harmful when taken in recommended dosages, though it is important to remember that the long-term effects of taking the herb (in any amount) have not been investigated. The essential oil should not be used internally by children, women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, or people with liver or kidney disease.

In rare cases, lemongrass essential oil has caused allergic reactions when applied to the skin. To minimize skin irritation, dilute the oil in a carrier oil such as safflower or sunflower seed oil before application. As with all essential oils, small amounts should be used, and only for a limited time.

Avoid getting lemongrass (herb or oil) in the eyes. Citral has been reported to irritate the respiratory tract in sensitive people as well as the eyes and skin.

Side Effects

When taken internally in recommended dosages, lemongrass is not associated with any bothersome or significant side effects. Cases have been reported, however, in which people have developed skin rashes after drinking lemongrass tea.

Interactions

As of 2003, lemongrass is not known to interact adversely with any drug or dietary supplement.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)

Feverfew is indigenous to Europe and the Balkan peninsula and is said to have grown around the Greek Parthenon, thus the species name parthenium. Its common name comes from the Latin febri fugia, which means “driver out of fevers.” Feverfew has made its way to both North and South America, where it is now naturalized.

Possible uses

Feverfew is used to relieve headaches, particularly vascular headaches such as migraines. Doctors aren’t sure what causes migraines, but they know these severe headaches involve blood vessel changes. One theory suggests that migraines occur when the blood vessels in the head expand and press on the nerves, causing pain. Another theory proposes that these headaches occur as the blood vessels react to outside stimuli by affecting blood flow to various parts of the brain. Feverfew relaxes tension in the blood vessels in the brain and inhibits the secretion of substances that cause pain or inflammation (such as histamine and serotonin). Studies confirm feverfew’s effectiveness as a migraine remedy.

Although some herbalists believe feverfew is most effective when used long-term to prevent chronic migraines, some people find it helpful when taken at the onset of a headache. Besides vascular headaches, feverfew may also benefit those who experience premenstrual headaches, which are often due to fluid retention and hormonal effects.

Feverfew is also reported to reduce fever and inflammation in joints and tissues. Some physicians recommend it to relieve menstrual cramps and to facilitate delivery placenta following childbirth.

Feverfew contains the substance parthenolide, which has been credited with inhibiting the release of serotonine, histamine, and other inflammatory substances that make blood vessels spasm and become inflamed. Reportedly, the amount of parthenolide varies from plant to plant, so it is wise to know how much of this active ingredient a feverfew product contains before you buy it. One study of commercially available feverfew products found that most of them contained no parthenolide at all. They were dried herbs and because parthenolide is volatile, it had all evaporated. Look for a product contains 0.2 percent parthenolide.

Possible side effects

Feverfew can cause stomach upset. Chewing the raw leaves day after day can irritate the mouth but the irritation subsides once you stop chewing the leaves. Tinctures and capsules do not irritate the mouth. Since feverfew relaxes blood vessels, it can increase blood flow during menstruation and possibly even induce abortion taken in early pregnancy. Keep feverfew out of reach of children. More research is needed to determine the herb’s long-term safety. Extreme overdose may induce a coma or even be potentially fatal due to respiratory failure.

Precautions and warnings

Feverfew is sometimes called tansy, but do not confuse feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) with the herb tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) or with various Senedo species commonly known as the ragworts, which are sometimes also referred to as tansy. You can see the value of using the botanical versus common names here. Avoid feverfew in pregnancy because it may induce abortion of the fetus.

Plant part used

Leaves, primarily.

Preparations and dosage

Feverfew is dried for tinctures, capsules, and infusions or amply eaten fresh. Since feverfew is a lovely garden plant and easy to grow, many herbalists recommend that headache sufferers plant it in their yards, where it will be readily available. The dosage of feverfew depends on the type and quality of the product used. Consuming two to three of the bitter tasting raw leaves each day constitutes a medicinal dosage. Limit consumption to a maximum of four or five leaves a day. If mouth irritation occurs, eat only one leaf at a time; place it in a salad or sandwich to reduce irritation.

Tea: Prepare an infusion using about 1 tablespoon of dried leaves per cup of hot water; steep for ten minutes.

Capsules: Take 1 to 3 per day.

Tincture: Take 10 to 20 drops daily to prevent headache or every half hour at the onset of a migraine. For arthritis and joint inflammation, take a larger dose of 30 to 40 drops two to three times daily.

Be sure to visit Dean Coleman Herbal Luxuries for a full herbal reference chart and herbal remedies guide.

Lavender has been cherished for centuries for its sweet, relaxing perfume. Its name comes from the Latin root lavare meaning to wash, since lavender was frequently used in soaps and hair rinses. It is one of the most popular flowers sold by health food stores and aromatherapy dealers.

Possible uses

Besides its importance as a fragrance, lavender is considered calming to nervous tension. Lavender oil is some-rimes rubbed into the temples for nead pain, added to bathwater for an anxiety-reducing bath, or put on a cotton ball and placed inside a pil­lowcase to treat insomnia. Lavender dowers are added to tea formulas for a pleasing, soothing aroma; the tea is sipped throughout the lay to ease nervous tension. Lavender has a mildly sedating iction and is also a weak antispasmodic for muscular tension.

Lavender may also alleviate gas and bloating in intestines as most herbs high in volatile oils are reported to do. One of lavender’s volatile oils, linalool, has been found to relax the bronchial passages, reduc­ing inflammatory and allergic reactions. Lavender is sometimes included in asthma, cough, and other respiratory formulas. Linalool is also credited as an expectorant ind antiseptic.

Possible side effects

Some people dislike the smell of lavender and find it nau­seating or irritating to the nose.

Precautions and warnings

Do not take lavender in large or therapeutic doses during pregnancy.

Plant part used

Flowers, harvested in me initial stages of flowering.

Preparations and dosage

Lavender is ommonly added to soaps, perfumes, powders, and potpourri blends. Enor­mous quantities of lavender are steam-distilled to prepare the concentrated volatile oils, which are used in the perfume and cosmetic industry and are available in the pure form in health food stores and perfume shops. The volatile oils may be used topically and in the practice of aromatherapy (using essen­tial oils to elicit a medicinal effect). You can add dried lavender flowers to tea formulas. Briefly steep 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon flowers per cup of hot water. When infusing lavender, use a lid to prevent the volatile oils from escaping into the air.

Using lavender essential oil

Add lavender essential oil to the last few minutes of the rinse cycle in your washing machine. Soak a cotton ball with lavender essential oil, tie it inside a small piece of fabric, and tuck it in your pillow­case or put it inside your dresser drawers. Place a drop or two of lavender oil on a cool light bulb of the lamp near your bed for a calming effect when you read in bed.

Never use concentrated volatile oils internally in doses larger than a drop or two, and always dilute with water or any vegetable oil. Putting a drop of some oils on the skin or tongue can cause burns with blisters.

We’ve all experienced the inconvenience of a computer crash at work, but the body is one machine you can’t do without. Backs, necks, shoulders and upper extremities are common sore spots for deskbound workers; if you don’t want them to go on strike, you’d better make a move—literally. Taking movement breaks throughout the day (ideally five minutes out of every 30 to 60 minutes at your desk) can energize you and ease common office aches. Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that not only did workers who took more frequent breaks feel better, they accomplished the same amount of work as those who took less time out.

Body Out of Balance

Extended periods of sitting cause lamer back compression while upper back muscles become weak and over-stretched. Poor posture (like your neck toward a computer screen) and repetitive motions like mouse clicking aggravate the imbalances. According to a recent Spine-Health.com poll, 70% of respondents’ backs felt worse at the end of the workday. Over time, minor aches and pains can morph into full blown musculoskeletal disorders—a leading cause of pain, suffering and disability in American workplaces according ro the federal government. Studies have documented the prevalence of neck tension and carpal tunnel syndromes among other conditions related to computer work.

Deskbound workers are susceptible to more serious conditions too. A recent study led by Professor Richard Beasley of the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand revealed that workers in sedentary professions are prone to developing potentially fatal blood clots in their legs, a condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). That alone is a good reason to get up and moving at work!

A New Routine

Taking stretch breaks instead of coffee or that afternoon snack you don’t really need works out the kinks and gives you a natural and sustainable energy boost, rather than the peak and subsequent drop that many people experience with caffeine or sugar. And don’t forget to shift your sitting posture regularly to avoid the muscular fatigue and tension that comes with maintaining a static position.

To make sure everything gets properly loosened up, try the following exercise sequence (if you have injuries or experience pain, consult your practitioner first).

Shoulder Rolls and Neck Tilts – Roll your shoulders in a circular motion: front, up, back and down. Repeat six to eight times. Tilt your head toward the right shoulder. Keep your shoulder blades down and hold for at least three breaths, return to center and do the other side. Benefits: Stretches and strengthens shoulder and neck muscles, and releases tension.

Spinal Roll – Stand with your back straight. Move your chin toward your chest, then round your shoulders for­ward so your upper back curves. Next bend forward at the waist and allow your knees to bend. Let your head hang and look toward your stomach. If you want more of a stretch, bend deeper at the waist so your hands touch the floor and you are looking toward your knees. Hold for a few breaths, then roll up and repeat three times. Inhale deeply and move slowly as you roll up to prevent dizziness. Benefits: Reduces stress, improves circulation and lengthens back and leg muscles.

Spinal Twist – Sit sideways facing the right side your chair, with your right hand on the chair back. Make your spine vertical, not slumped. Slowly rotate your abdomen, ribs, shoulders and head toward the right, gently pulling the right hand against the chair for leverage. Enjoy your maximum stretch for a few breaths and then slowly unwind. Sit for a few moments with a neutral spine before doing the other side. Benefits: Relieves a sore lower back and helps wring out accumulated toxins.

Wrist Flexion – Extend your arms in front of you; flex your wrists while spreading out your fingers (as if you are pushing against a wall). Hold that position for a few seconds, then release; repeat eight to 12 times. Benefits: Eases compression of the median nerve and tendons at the wrist; may help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

Rows – Start with your arms extended in front of you. Pull your elbows back as if you are rowing a boat. Draw your shoulder blades towards each other and down your back while keeping a neutral spine (Don’t let your back arch or your ribs jut forward.) Return to starting position and repeat eight to 12 times. Benefits: Stretches pectoral muscles, strengthens upper back. Helps correct poor posture and muscular imbalances from hunching over a desk or computer.

We humans aren’t made for sitting all day. Pain is your body calling, so don’t just plow through it—take time to move. Not only will your injury risk drop, but those tight muscles will breathe a sigh of relief. — Tepper

It begins so innocently: A tender spot in a muscle, weird tingling sensations in a hand, numb­ness in a couple of fingers… and always after a long day at the keyboard or cash register or assembly line. But over time the dis­comfort grows and the throbbing becomes more severe, cutting into your sleep and severely hampering your job performance—until you realize that you’re in intolerable pain, day in and day out.

Welcome to the world of repetitive strain injury (RSI). While it may not be a comforting thought, you do have plenty of company—about 7% of the US population, according to the federal government. That makes RSI not only the most common occu­pational hazard but, at $20 billion a year in workers’ compensation costs alone, the most expensive as well.

Graduated Misery

“RSI is not a diagnosis, but a term used to describe a very complicated, many-faceted soft tissue problem,” explains RSI expert Dr. Emil Pascarelli, author of Dr. Pascarelli’s Complete Guide to Repetitive Strain Injury (Wiley). “One reason it’s so compli­cated is that the symptom site is not necessarily where the problem lies.” Nerve compression, originating at either the spine or further along down the arm, is a key factor; using a computer mouse at an awkward angle can clamp down on nerves in your neck, shoulder, elbow and/or wrist—which can wind up causing pain and numbness in your fingers. Other symptoms include spasms, weakness, swelling and tingling.

The disconnect between injury and symptom also helps explain why carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), the best-known RSI, isn’t as common as you might think. CTS, in which the nerve that serves the hand is com­pressed as it passes through the wrist, is “by no means the major culprit,” Pascarelli says. “In fact, a study of 485 of my most recent patients shows that only 8% of them actually had CTS.” Problems that people will self-diagnose as CTS often fall into other RSI categories such as thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), which originates in the neck; cubital tunnel syndrome, a nerve impingement at the elbow; and DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis, a tendon irritation involving the thumb.

The unnatural practices of modern employment lie at the heart of RSI; the human body was not meant to remain relatively immobile for hours doing the same thing repeatedly. (See “BlackBerry Thumb.”) As a result, repetitive strain difficulties are “extremely common” among the people Jocelyn Joy, LAc, treats at Joy Acupuncture in San Diego, California. “Most of the cases I see involve typ­ing—long hours at the keyboard and poor posture,” she notes. “I do occa­sionally get people with more physi­cal jobs, such as mechanics.” Pascarelli also sees hurting musicians: “We are losing many talented musicians to injury early in their careers.”

Relaxing RSI’s Grip

Making RSI go away is one thing; keeping it from returning is another. “It’s not all that difficult to treat— what’s difficult is not having it recur,” says Joy. “If you don’t change how you’re doing things, it’s likely that the problem will come back.”

The first step, according to Pascarelli, is to get an accurate diagnosis: “I have spent as many as two hours on each first-patient visit to do a full history and complete upper-body examination.” He recommends making that visit more productive by coming with notes: When and how your symptoms began, the type and intensity of the work you do and the type of equipment you use (as well as any repetitive home or recre­ational activities), your stress levels and emotional state, and what tasks you are no longer capable of performing.

Physical therapy, including a targeted exercise program, is the key to recovery. Dutch researchers have found that exer­cise even trumps such ergonomic changes as properly adjusted chairs and keyboards. Work with someone who has a background in RSI rehab. “I’ve been trained in a little bit of physical rehabilitation, but I often need to work with somebody who’s very good at isolating muscle groups and coming up with exercises for those muscles,” Joy says. But don’t place all the responsibility on that person’s shoul­ders. “You must rely on your own awareness,” says Pascarelli. “Relying on the therapist to carry the workload of , your recovery means that you will not recover.” The temptation is to push hard in an effort to get back to normal as quickly as possible. Don’t. As Joy puts it, “Slower is faster and less is more.”

Both acupuncture and massage can help relieve the pain. Regarding acupuncture Joy says, “As a general rule I like to go anywhere from six to 12 treatments, usually twice a week. That usually results in the problem being almost completely resolved, depending on what other areas are affected.” And in one study, people with early CTS who received a professional massage once a week—and learned how to perform a self-massage each evening—saw their symptoms abate.

Though heat relaxes muscles, cold can also relieve RSI pain. Icing “is most effective if the ice is put in direct con­tact with the skin for 40 to 60 seconds,” Pascarelli says. “Move it over painful tissues until the skin gets slightly numb and reddish.” Supplements (and herbal treatments) can help, too. “I often prescribe magnesium to help with muscle cramping and tightness,” says Joy. “I use supplement formulas that include turmeric and I also recommend omega-3 fatty acids— they really do help with inflammation. For acute inflammation I generally pre­scribe 3,000 or 4,000 milligrams a day (you might have to work up from 1,000 mg); always take it with food. After the acute problem is over, I’d say 2,000 mg would be great.” (If arthritic aches aggravate your RSI, add glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM to the mix.)

To stop recurrences Pascarelli suggests a multi-step prevention plan: Assessing your injury risk by noting daily activities at work and at home, faithfully doing all recommended stretches and exercises, thinking ergonomically by fitting your equipment to your body and not the other way around, and pushing the healthcare system, including your insur­ance company, for the help you need.

Don’t let RSI cramp your style. Get better and then do everything you can to keep the pain at bay.

L. James

Among the symphony of exotic spices that consti­tute a good, authentic Indian curry, you will find subtle, bittersweet maple syrup notes of fenugreek seed. Though Americans’ exposure to this spice is likely limited to those who favor Indian food, fenugreek is far more influential in the eastern part of the globe. By virtue of its role in curry dishes, fenugreek is an integral part of pan-Asian cuisine.

But fenugreek’s true significance lies in its long history of medicinal use, spanning Ayurvedic, Traditional Chinese Medicine and folk medicine t practices in cultures all over the ‘ world. With its traditional usages almost too numerous to count, modern science has zoomed in on two critical fenugreek functions: its ability to reduce both blood sugar and cholesterol. While these proper­ties may appeal to anyone, they hold special promise for diabetes sufferers. (Visit Dean Coleman’s Herbal Information Page)

Ancient Tonic

One of the oldest cultivated plants, fenugreek can be traced back to 1000 B.C., when Egyptian texts detailed its use as an embalming agent in the mummification process. Throughout history, fenugreek has proven itself as a multi-purpose herb; it has been prized as an aphrodisiac, used to enhance the appeal of stale fodder for livestock, roasted and brewed like coffee and even employed as a yel­low dye for clothing. ^ Not lost upon the ancient cultures that first cultivated fenugreek were its healing properties. In Northern Africa, the Middle East and Far East, fenugreek has been used medicinally for thousands of years. A tonic herb, fenugreek’s myriad therapeutic usages include use as a treatment for arthri­tis and hair loss, male reproductive support, kidney health, wound heal­ing and more. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, fenugreek is valued as a “warming” herb that stimulates digestion. And fenugreek has long been used to increase milk produc­tion in nursing mothers—for which it is still widely used today.

FENUGREEK FACTS

What is it? A member of the pea family, fenugreek (Trigonella foenumgmecuni) is a slender, flowering plant consumed as both an herb (leaves) and spice (seeds).

What does it do? The seeds have been used medicinally for thousands of years; modern research focuses on its ability to regulate blood sugar and reduce cholesterol.

Modern Wellness

How does fenugreek do it? The seeds are up to 25% galactomannan, a type of natural soluble fiber that can impart many health benefits— including a reduced risk of heart dis­ease. Galactomannan also slows digestion, thereby slowing glucose absorption and stabilizing blood sugar levels. As an added benefit for dieters, fenugreek’s soluble fiber can impart a sensation of fullness.

Of all fenugreek’s amino acids, the most prevalent is 4-hydroxyiso/eucine (4-HI), which has been shown to stimulate insulin release (Diabetes 1998). That causes blood sugar levels to drop—an especially exciting boon for diabetes sufferers. Fenugreek also appears to regulate blood sugar by inhibiting the enzymes sucrase and alpha-amylase, which help break down carbohydrates.

In people with type 2 diabetes, fenugreek supplementation has been shown to significantly lower overall cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (known as LDL or “bad cholesterol,” associated with cardiovascular dis­ease), and triglycerides (blood fats)— all while easing diabetic symptoms (Alternative Medicine Review 2003). In another study of non-diabetics suffering from high cholesterol, fenu­greek was found to significantly lower trigylceride and LDL levels (Phytotherapy Research 1991).

Next time you’re mopping your brow while chowing down on a spicy curry, try to identify the unique taste of fenugreek. To best utilize fenu­greek’s healthy compounds, however, drop the fork and head for your health food store—a standardized supplement is your best bet for blood sugar stability, cholesterol reduction and overall health.