For the next few weeks, the column is going to cover herbal remedies, some that are popular today and some that were stalwarts of the past and being re-discovered.
One of those is fenugreek, a strange little herb that tastes like a cross between maple syrup and celery. In fact, fenugreek is sometimes used in flavoring "maple" syrups for the table. The ancient Greeks used it as animal fodder, but the Romans, who named it foenum-graecum, or Greek Hay, discovered it's high content of mucilage, which, when mixed with water, swells up into a soothing intestinal and digestive remedy.
When I was growing up, long, long ago in an America far, far away, you could still buy "Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound", a favorite remedy for "female weakness". Today we have no qualms about calling it what it is, menstrual pain, and fie on the "weakness" piffle.
Lydia's pills contained fenugreek. Today we know that the seeds of fenugreek contain diosgenin and estrogenic isoflavones, which mimic natural estrogen. Lydia might have lived over one hundred years ago, but she really knew her herbs! Not only does fenugreek relieve painful menstrual symptoms, it also eases the difficulties of menopause by increasing natural estrogens. Fenugreek has many other wonderful and amazing uses as well, and it's not just for women.
According to Prevention Magazine's " Complete book of Natural and Medicinal Cures", a scientific study conducted by Indian scientists concluded that adding four ounces of powdered fenugreek seeds daily to one's diet greatly reduced LDL cholesterol levels after only 20 days.
HDL, the good cholesterol, was not affected. Fenugreek also benefits folks suffering from Type 1 diabetes. When those same Indian scientists added the identical amount of fenugreek to the diets of patients with the disorder, their urinary blood sugar levels fell an astounding 54%!
Fenugreek shows great promise as a treatment for Type 11 diabetes as well. Because fenugreek contains large amounts of mucilage, that wonderful water soluble fiber, it's a natural for getting soothing bulk into the gut and keeping you regular. Additional uses of this amazing plant are relieving sore throat pain, easing indigestion, gas and stopping diarrhea.
You can make a medicinal tea by boiling two teaspoons of the crushed seeds in pure water and letting it steep for ten to fifteen minutes. You may have up to three cups daily and add sweetener and flavorings if you wish.
The one caveat is to take care if you have diabetes, high cholesterol and those menopausal symptoms if you are on medication. The action of fenugreek can boost the effects of these medications, so consult with your doctor before you start to use it.
Dr Kleine regrets she cannot give advice by phone or e-mail. To make an appointment please call 631.472.8139 or e-mail us at Drfootsi@myway.com