What is Fenugreek?
Fenugreek is a small herbal plant widely grown and used in India and Southeast Europe, northern Africa, Egypt, Morocco and the United States. India is the largest producer of fenugreek in the world, especially in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana and Punjab .
Fenugreek belongs to the plant family “Fabaceae”. The plant grows 30 to 60 cm. in height, has compound leaves of light green color. The seeds are brownish yellow and have peculiar odor.
Fenugreek in other languages
Fenugreek is also known as Greek Hay.
Latin name - Trigonella foenum-gracum
Sanskrit - Methika
Malay - Halba
French: Fenugrec Sénegré, trigonelle
German: Bockshornklee, Griechisches Heu
Italian: Fieno greco
Spanish: Alholva, fenogreco
Tamil - Vendaya
Malayalam - Uluva
Kannada - Menthe
Telugu - Menthulu
Hindi - Methi
Fenugreeks seeds of Fenugreek have been used medicinally all through the ages and were held in high repute among the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans for medicinal and culinary purposes. Fenugreek has a long history of medical uses in Indian and Chinese medicine.Fenugreek has excellent medicinal virtues. Its regular use helps keeps the body clean and healthy. The leaves of Fenugreek are aromatic, cooling and a mild laxative.
In Indian Cuisine - Fenugreek is used almost in daily cooking, such as sambar, especially in South India. The young leaves and sprouts of fenugreek are eaten as greens, and the fresh or dried leaves are used to flavor other dishes. The young leaves are used as side dish, in parathas, and omelettes. Seeds are also used in dosas and Sprouted fenugreeks are also used, often with other vegetables.
Not only in India, the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used Fenugreek for medicinal and culinary purposes. In Egypt, fenusgreek seeds are prepared as tea, by being boiled then sweetened. This is a popular winter drink served in coffee shops.
In the United States, where maple syrup is popular, fenugreek is widely used as a substitute for maple syrup flavoring.
Fenugreek Health Benefits
In Ayurveda, fenugreek seeds are vata and kapha pacifying and can stimulate pitta, and considered as a natural source of iron, silicon, sodium and thiamine. This bright yellow seed contains mucilagins which are known for soothing and relaxing inflamed tissues. Fenugreek contains alkaloids, including trigonelline, gentianine and carpine compounds. The seeds also contain fibre, 4-hydroyisoleucine and fenugreekine, a component that may have hypoglycemic activity.
The seeds and leaves of fenugreek are anticholesterolemic, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, carminative, demulcent, deobstruent, emollient, expectorant, febrifuge, galactogogue, hypoglycaemic, laxative, parasiticide, restorative and uterine tonic, and useful in burning sensation. Please remember to read the side effects of fenugreek given below.
Fenugreek Health Benefits:
- Fenugreek is helpful for lactating mothers to increase milk production. According to Kathleen E. Huggins, RN, MS, director of the Breastfeeding Clinic at San Luis Obispo General Hospital, fenugreek was one of the major ingredients of Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound, a popular 19th century cure-all for "female complaints." The hormone precursors of fenugreek helps to increase milk supply. It has been found that fenugreek can increase a nursing mother's milk supply within 24 to 72 hours after taking. Once an adequate level of milk production is reached, most women can discontinue the fenugreek and maintain the milk supply with adequate breast stimulation. The pills can be found at most vitamin and nutrition stores and at many supermarkets and natural foods stores.
- Due to its estrogen-like properties, fenugreek has been found to help increase libido and lessen the effect of hot flashes and mood fluctuations that are common symptoms of menopause and PMS.
Fenugreek leaves help prevent wrinkles, blackheads, pimples, dryness and rashes, by applying a paste of the fresh fenugreek leaves on the face .
- To cure acid reflux (Fenugreek seeds contain a lot of mucilage, which helps sooth gastrointestinal inflammation by coating the lining of the stomach and intestine.)
- In India, fenugreek seeds are mixed with yogurt and used as a conditioner for hair.
- Prevents hair loss, dandruff, strengthens hair, and makes hair lice free - Soak fenugreek seeds in water overnight and grind it into a fine paste the following morning. Leave this paste applied on the scalp for 30 to 45 minutes and then wash it with a mild shampoo.
- To reduce fever, fenugreek is taken with lemon and honey. Prepare fenugreek tea by adding few amounts of fenugreek seeds to water. Boil it and then add few drops of lemon with some honey and take hot or cold.
- An infusion of the leaves is used as a gargle for recurrent mouth ulcers.
- A gargle made from the seeds is helpful for ordinary sore throat
- Fenugreek is useful in arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, improve digestion, maintain a healthy metabolism, and increase libido.
- Increases male potency
- Skin problems such as wounds, rashes and boils.
- Helps in losing weight. The fiber in fenugreek fills the stomach, even when consumed in a little amount. Soak a few fenugreek seeds in water and chew them in the morning, on an empty stomach.
- Fenugreek is widely used in treating diabetes as it has quality to reduce the sugar level of the blood. Recent studies have shown that Fenugreek helps lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels. 2 ounces of Fenugreek seeds throughout the day either in the form of sprinkling it on the food or consume it as capsule.
- To help with breast enlargement - For breast enlargement is to make Fenugreek a part of your regular diet.
- To induce labor
- To treat hormonal disorders
- To reduce menstrual pain..
The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies.
Side Effects of Fenugreek
Although fenugreek has been suggested for many conditions, there are also some side effects reported. So it is always better to consult a health care person before using fenugreek, to avoid any problems.
- Fenugreek is in the same family with peanuts and chickpeas, and may cause an allergic reaction in susceptible individuals.
- There are reported cases of gastrointestinal discomfort and nausea, therefore fenugreek should be used with caution.
- Dosages higher than the recommended one may result in hypoglycemia in some mothers.
If you're diabetic, use fenugreek only if you have good control of your blood glucose levels. While taking this, closely monitor your fasting levels and post-prandial (after meals) levels. Mothers with hypoglycemia should also use fenugreek with caution.
- Inhalation of the fenugreek powder can cause asthma and allergic symptoms in some sensitive people.
- For some people fenugreek may trigger a migraine and/or contribute to the duration and severity of a migraine.
- Those who have strong family history of hypertension or heart disease.should avoid fenugreek, or can be used only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner.
- During pregnancy, fenugreek should be used with extreme caution because it may cause blood sugar levels to become too low.
- Because fenugreek may lower potassium levels in the blood.
- Fenugreek may increase the risk of bleeding when also taken with other products that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding.
- Those who are already on some medication should consult a doctor before using fenugreek.
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