Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Fenugreek - Uses and Benefits

Alternative Names:

Fenugreek,Greek hay, Foenugreek, 

Herb Description

Fenugreek is an annual herbaceous plant deep-rooted to Asia & southern Europe . It is one of the oldest cultivated herb, fenugreek is widely found presently in the Mediterranean countries, Argentina, France, India, North Africa, & the United States as a medicinal, food, condiment, dye, & eat age plant. Fenugreek is normally famous as safe for human consumption as a spice and as a plant extract . It is also known as Methi or Classical Fenugreek , is a crop plant produced as a potherb . It is an erect herb, mature to be about 2 feet tall. It White flowers blooms in the summer and develop into long slender green pods. Mature brown pods have 20 tiny yellow aromatic seeds.The fenugreek seeds contain high amount of the polysaccharide galactomannan . The diamond like seeds are irregularly rounded, about 3 -5 mm long and 2-3 mm thick and wide.
It is a food that has been used safely for thousands of years as a common ingredient of curry.The fenugreek seed is usually taken in the preparation of curry powders , pickles, & pastes, and is generally used in the cuisine of the Thailand & Indian subcontinent. Egyptians use fenugreek roasted seeds and use them as coffee. The fresh leaves and sprouts of fenugreek are consumed as greens & the fresh or dried leaves are used to flavor other dishes. The dried leaves have a bitter taste and peculiar, not unlike lovage or celery and a strong characteristic odor which means they need to be taken sparingly. Fenugreek is normally used in the food industry as an artificial maple flavoring.

Uses and Benefits

Externally fenugreek is used for boils, eczema ,skin inflammations, ulcers, and cellulite . Internally fenugreek is used to treat numerous problems such as gastric inflammation,diabetes in adults , poor digestion, digestive disorders & tuberculosis. It is also beneficial for painful menstruation, labor pains and insufficient lactation. It is also efficacious treatment for painful testicles and premature ejaculation . It is generally taken for weight loss, anorexia & for appetite loss. Young fenugreek leaves are cooked as a vegetable curry and are also dried and used to flavor vegetable dishes. The roasted seeds are use in curry powder, pickles, stews and fried foods. The seed sprouts are also used as a salad.

In Ayurvedic medicine it is commonly used for digestive,rejuvenation ,bronchial complaints, gout ,arthritis and as an aphrodisiac. In Chinese medicine it is widely used for the treatment of kidney related pain such as premature ejaculation,back ache, as well as loss of libido, painful testicles, hernia, painful menstruation & edema of the legs
Now a days ,The fenugreek seeds are used to large extent in the manufactures of condition powders for cattle & horses . It has a powerful smell of coumarin and is widely used for flavoring cattle foods and to make damaged hay palatable.
Its seed has been taken to enhance milk production since biblical periods. The plant retains phytoestrogens, which are herbaceous chemicals similar to the female sex hormone estrogen. Diosgenin, a main compound, has been shown experimentally to enhance milk flow .

Side Effects

The herb fenugreek has produced aggravated asthma disorders in some women and has lowered blood glucose levels in some women with diabetes. Person using oral drugs for diabetes or taking insulin should be closely monitored by a doctor while using fenugreek.
Few side effects have been reported from exposure to fenugreek, such as numbness,facial swelling, breathing difficulty and fainting are likely a cause of an allergic reaction. Some side effects may occur such as dizziness, diarrhea and gas when fenugreek is used at recommended doses.
Fenugreek may cause loose stools in some women, can produce uterine contractions ,hypoglycemia in some mothers ,sweat and urine smells like maple syrup , since it can produce lowering of blood glucose levels so it is recommended to diabetic mothers should not use fenugreek without consulting any health care professional.


Usual daily dosage:
  • 1 - 2 gm. Take three times a day.(For general health )
  • 50 gm. Take twice a day.(For type 1 diabetes )
  • 2.5 gm of seed powder . Take three times a day.( For type 2 diabetes)
  • Drench 0.5 gm of crushed seed in 1 cup of cold water for 3 hours. Strain 5 min before drinking. Drink 3 times a day

Drug Interactions

Fenugreek should be taken at least 2 hours before or after any prescription drug because it may interfere with the absorption of other drugs that are taken orally.
Fenugreek may heighten the risk of bleeding when taken with anticoagulants (blood thinners) or antiplatelet drugs such as warfarin , heparin and clopidogrel .

Growing Fenugreek

Fenugreek (Trigonella Foenum-Graecum) is an annual indigenous to the Mediterranean and grown widely in Europe and Asia. It has a long medicinal history, and is recommended for cleansing the chest and lungs in Culpepper's Herbal of 1649.

Planting Fenugreek

Fenugreek grows to about two feet (60cm), with yellow/white flowers and long yellow seedpods. It likes full sun and well-drained, neutral to slightly acid soil. It doesn't like to be transplanted. In spring, after the threat of frost has passed, sow seeds to a depth of a little less than a quarter inch. The seeds sprout quickly. Unlike many other herbs that thrive on neglect, fenugreek likes fertile soil, so be generous with the compost. Space plants five to six inches apart.

In New York City recently, the aroma of fenugreek created a cloud of mysterious maple fragrance which was traced to a nearby manufacturing plant. Your garden can smell like maple too.

Harvesting Fenugreek Seed Pods

Harvest and dry seedpods in early to mid fall, and store them in an airtight container in a dry, dark spot.

Using Fenugreek as an Herbal Remedy

Fenugreek can be taken internally or used topically. It is most often used to treat coughs and sore throat, although current research suggests that it may be effective in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, can help lower blood cholesterol, and increase circulation. It is also often recommended as an herbal treatment for tinnitusFor more information on possible uses for fenugreek, visit: Fenugreek as an Herbal Remedy

Other Uses for Fenugreek

It is a common ingredient in curries and imitation maple syrup. It can also be used as a dye.

Fenugreek Aphrodisiac

Fenugreek usually makes the short list of sexual stimulant herbs, and has been used with some success in treating male impotence. It's thought that Fenugreek's ability to help improve circulation is the cause.

In women, fenugreek may also help in treating vaginal dryness.

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