Fenugreek: Interactions. Contraindications. Pregnancy Use. Practice Points. FAQ

Toxicity Safety studies indicate that fenugreek is extremely safe. When consumed as 20% of the diet, it did not produce toxic effects in animal tests. Adverse Reactions One clinical study found that a dose of 50 g taken twice daily produced mild gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea and flatulence, which subsided after 3-4 days. Allergic reactions have been reported, but are rare. Significant Interactions Where controlled studies are not available, interactions are speculative and based on evidence of pharmacological activity and case reports. HYPOGLYCAEMIC AGENTS Additive effects are theoretically possible in diabetes — monitor concomitant use and monitor serum glucose levels closely — potentially beneficial interaction. IRON Frequent use of fenugreek can inhibit iron absorption — separate doses by 2 hours. WARFARIN Although there is a theoretical concern that concomitant use could increase bleeding risk due to the herb’s coumarin content, this is unlikely. A placebo-controlled study found that fenugreek does not affect platelet aggregation, fibrinolytic activity or fibrinogen. Contraindications and Precautions Fenugreek is contraindicated in people with allergy to the herb, which has been Read more […]

Fenugreek: Uses. Dosage

Clinical Use DYSPEPSIA AND LOSS OF APPETITE Although controlled studies are unavailable, the increased activity of pancreatic and intestinal lipase seen in animal studies provides a theoretical basis for its use in dyspepsia. Commission E approved the internal use of fenugreek seed for loss of appetite. ELEVATED LIPID LEVELS Several clinical studies conducted in people with and without diabetes have identified significant lipid-lowering activity with different fenugreek preparations, such as defatted fenugreek, germinated seed and hydro-alcoholic extracts. As can be expected, the dose used and type of preparation tested has an influence over results. An open study using a daily dose of 18.0 g germinated fenugreek seed in healthy volunteers demonstrated significant reductions in total cholesterol and LDL-choles-terol levels. A placebo-controlled study found no effect after 3 months with a lower dose of 5 g seed daily, suggesting that higher intakes may be required for lipid-lowering activity to become significant. DIABETES Fenugreek is a popular natural treatment used to aid blood sugar regulation in diabetes. Overall, results from clinical studies have produced positive results however trials have used diverse Read more […]

Fenugreek: Background. Actions

Historical Note Fenugreek’s seeds and leaves are used not only as food but also as an ingredient in traditional medicine. It is indigenous to Western Asia and Southern Europe, but is now mainly cultivated in India, Pakistan, France, Argentina and North African countries. In ancient times it was used as an aphrodisiac by the Egyptians and, together with honey, for the treatment of rickets, diabetes, dyspepsia, rheumatism, anaemia and constipation. It has also been described in early Greek and Latin pharmacopoeias for hyperglycaemia and was used by Yemenite Jews for type 2 diabetes. In India and China it is still widely used as a therapeutic agent. In the United States, it has been used since the 19th century for postmenopausal vaginal dryness and dysmenorrhea. Common Name Fenugreek Other Names Trigonella seeds, bird’s foot, Greek hay, hu lu ba, methi, trigonella Botanical Name / Family Trigonella foenum graecum (family Leguminosae) Plant Parts Used Dried mature seed, although leaves are used less commonly. Chemical Components The main chemical constituents are fibre, tannicacid, fixed and volatile oils and a bitter extractive, steroidal saponins, flavonoids, polysaccharides, alkaloids, trigonelline, trigocoumarin, Read more […]


Historical Note The genus Gentiana is derived from Gentius, king of ancient llyra who is attributed with the discovery of its therapeutic effects. In ancient Greece and Rome it was used to relieve common gastrointestinal symptoms, much as it is used today. It was first noted in the Chinese medical literature in 50 BC. Other Names Gentiana, yellow gentian, wild gentian Botanical Name / Family Gentiana lutea (family Gentianaceae) Plant Parts Used Root and rhizome Chemical Components Secoiridoid bitter glycosides, oligosaccharides, phenolic acids, phytosterols, polysaccharides (inulin and pectin), tannin, lupeol, beta-amyrin triterpenes, xanthones and essential oil. Main Actions The active principals in gentian root are the bitter constituents, gentiopicroside and amarogentin. DIGESTIVE STIMULANT The bitter principals induce reflex excitation of taste receptors and increased saliva, gastric juice and bile secretion thereby stimulating appetite and digestion according to in vivo experiments. The small human study confirmed oral administration of gentian root extract increases gastric juice secretion and emptying of the gall bladder (ESCOP 2003). Other Actions A gentian root preparation inhibited Helicobacter Read more […]

Ginger: Practice Points – Patient Counselling. FAQ

Pregnancy Use Although Commission E suggests that ginger is contraindicated in pregnancy, more recent research suggests that ginger is not contraindicated in pregnancy — doses up to 2 g/day of dried ginger root have been used safely. No adverse effects on pregnancy were observed in multiple studies of ginger or nausea and vomiting. Practice Points / Patient Counselling • Ginger is most often used for its anti-emetic, anti-inflammatory and gastrointestinal effects. • There is clinical support for the use of ginger in the treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness, the postoperative period, pregnancy and chemotherapy. • Ginger is traditionally used for gastrointestinal disorders including dyspepsia, poor appetite, flatulence, colic, vomiting, diarrhea and spasms, as well as a diaphoretic in the treatment of the common cold and influenza. • Ginger is also used as an anti-inflammatory agent for arthritis, although large controlled studies have yet to produce strong support for this use. • Although antiplatelet effects have been reported, this requires very large doses and is not likely to be significant in normal therapeutic doses or dietary intake levels. Answers to Read more […]

Ginger: Dosage. Interactions. Contraindications.

Dosage Range The recommended dose ranges widely from 500 mg to 9 g/day dried root or equivalent; however, as there are wide variations in the gingerol concentrations in commercial ginger supplements the effective dosage will depend on the preparation and the indication for use. • Liquid extract (1:2): 0.7-2.0 mL/day. • Dried root: 1-3 g daily in divided doses or 1-2 g taken as a single dose for nausea and vomiting. • Infusion: 4-6 slices of fresh ginger steeped in boiling water for 30 minutes. Adverse Reactions Gastric irritation, heartburn and bloating have been reported in clinical trials. Contact dermatitis of the fingertips has also been reported with topical use. Significant Interactions Controlled studies are not available for many interactions; therefore they are based on evidence of activity and are largely theoretical and speculative. WARFARIN Due to the herb’s antiplatelet effects there is a theoretical risk of increased bleeding at high doses (> 10 g) although this is not evident clinically. There is no evidence of an interaction with warfarin at the usual dietary and therapeutic intakes, and ginger has been shown not to alter prothrombin times in pooled human plasma collected from Read more […]

Ginger: Uses

Clinical Use Although ginger is used in many forms, including fresh ginger used in cooking or chai (Indian spicy tea), pickled or glazed ginger, ethanol extracts and concentrated powdered extracts, preparations made with the root are used medicinally. Depending on the specific solvent used, the resultant preparation will contain different concentrations of the active constituents and may differ markedly from crude ginger. Although the great majority of research refers specifically to the species Zingiber officinale, there is the potential for confusion with other species or even with other genera. Furthermore, there are reported to be wide variations in the quality of commercial ginger supplements with concentrations of gingerols ranging from 0.0 to 9.43 mg/g. As such, the results of specific research can not necessarily be extrapolated to different preparations. PREVENTION OF NAUSEA AND VOMITING Many clinical studies have investigated the effects of ginger in the prevention and treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with different circumstances, including pregnancy, the postoperative period, motion sickness and chemotherapy. A recent systematic review of 24 RCTs covering 1073 patients suggest that results Read more […]

Ginger: Background. Actions

Historical Note Ginger has been used as both a food and a medicine since ancient times. Confucius wrote about it in his Analects, the Greek physician, Dioscorides, listed ginger as an antidote to poisoning, as a digestive, and as being warming to the stomach in De Materia Medica, and the Koran, the Talmud and the Bible all mention ginger. Records suggest that ginger was highly valued as an article of trade and in 13th and 14th century England, one pound of ginger was worth the same as a sheep. Ginger is still extremely popular in the practice of phytotherapy, particularly in TCM, which distinguishes between the dried and fresh root. It is widely used to stimulate circulation, treat various gastrointestinal disorders and as a stimulant heating agent. Other Names African ginger, Indian ginger, Jamaica ginger, common ginger, rhizoma zingiberis, shokyo (Japanese) Botanical Name / Family Zingiber officinale Roscoe (family Zingiberaceae) Plant Part Used Rhizome Chemical Components The ginger rhizome contains an essential oil and resin known collectively as oleoresin. The composition of the essential oil varies according to the geographical origin, but the chief constituents, sesquiterpene hydrocarbons, which are Read more […]

Guarana: Adverse Reactions. Interactions. Pregnancy Use. Practice Points

Toxicity Animal tests have shown that high doses of 1000-2000 mg/kg (intraperitoneal and oral) do not induce significant alterations in parameters for toxicological screening, suggesting an absence of toxicity. Adverse Reactions Due to a lack of clinical studies testing guarana as a stand-alone treatment, it is difficult to determine what adverse reactions may exist. Based on caffeine content, the following adverse effects may theoretically occur at high doses: agitation, tremor, anxiety, restlessness, headache, seizures, tachycardia and premature ventricular contractions, diarrhea, gastrointestinal cramping, nausea and vomiting and diuresis. Significant Interactions Controlled studies are not available, therefore interactions are theoretical and based on evidence of pharmacological activity with uncertain clinical significance. CNS STIMULANTS Additive stimulant activity is theoretically possible — use with caution. CNS SEDATIVES Antagonistic effects are theoretically possible due to the herb’s CNS stimulant activity. However, one in vivo study found no interaction with pentobarbital. Observe patients taking this combination. DIURETICS Additive diuresis effects are theoretically possible — use this Read more […]

Guarana: Uses. Dosage

Clinical Use ALERTNESS Although clinical studies using guarana are not available, anecdotal evidence has suggested that it may produce similar effects to caffeine on subjective feelings of wellbeing, energy, motivation and self-confidence. Guarana may exert a mild antidepressant effect as demonstrated in forced-swimming and open field tests in mice ENHANCED COGNITIVE FUNCTION AND ALERTNESS Two recent double-blind studies have confirmed that guarana has significant effects on cognitive function and provide evidence that these effects are not just mediated by the herb’s caffeine content. One double-blind, placebo-controlled study assessed the effects of four different doses of guarana (37.5, 75, 150 and 300 mg) in 22 subjects. Cognitive performance and mood were assessed at baseline and again 1, 3 and 6 hours after each dose using the Cognitive Drug Research computerised assessment battery, serial subtraction tasks, a sentence verification task and visual analogue mood scales. All doses improved picture and word recognition, results on the Bond-Lader visual analogue scales and caffeine research visual analogue scales showing improvements in alertness and reduced ratings of headache. The two lower doses produced Read more […]