Fenugreek (also known as Greek Hay and Fenugreek), is an herb that is commonly found in the Mediterranean region of the world. While the seeds and leaves are primarily used as a culinary spice, it is also used to treat a variety of health problems in Egypt, Greece, Italy, and South Asia. Fenugreek seeds have been found to contain protein, vitamin C, niacin, potassium, and diosgenin (which is a compound that has properties similar to estrogen). Other active constituents in fenugreek are alkaloids, lysine and L-tryptophan, as well as steroidal saponins (diosgenin, yamogenin, tigogenin, and neotigogenin).
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. In India and China it has also been used to treat arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, improve digestion, maintain a healthy metabolism, increase libido and male potency, cure skin problems (wounds, rashes and boils), treat sore throat and cure acid reflux. Fenugreek also has a long history of use for the treatment of reproductive disorders, to induce labor, to treat hormonal disorders, to help with breast enlargement, and to reduce menstrual pain. Recent studies have shown that Fenugreek helps lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels, and may be an effective treatment for both type 1 and 2 diabetes. It is also being studied for its cardiovascular benefits.
Fenugreek contains compounds like diosgenin and isoflavones with oestrogen-like properties which help to reduce symptoms like discomfort and menstrual cramps associated with PMS. These compounds also ease menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and mood fluctuations. Fenugreeks are beneficial for women are more prone to iron deficiency during adolescence (initiation of menstrual periods), during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Rheumatic joint pain: In swollen and painful rheumatic joints, poultice of powdered seeds is very useful.
- Boils: Local application of fresh paste of seeds is beneficial because of draining and healing effects.
- Diarrhoea: Powder of roasted seeds with pinch of salt is beneficial.
- Obesity: As an adjunct to exercise and diet control seeds are consumed to get rid of excessive fat. Chew soaked seeds post exercise as it suppresses appetite and hence helps in weight reduction.
- Galactagogue (promotes milk production): It has been traditionally used to increase breast milk in lactating mothers.
- Aphrodisiac: Fenugreek seeds act as an aphrodisiac.
- Diabetes: Fenugreek seed powder 25gram/day controls Diabetes mellitus. Fenugreek is shown to possess hypoglycemic action.
- Heartburn: Fenugreek seeds prevent heartburn as the mucilage soothes irritated gastrointestinal tissues. You can take one teaspoon of soaked fenugreek seeds before or after your food. It helps relieves constipation and indigestion.
- Skin problems: In burns, boils, eczema, etc. and scars local application of seeds paste is very beneficial.
- Scalp diseases: Application of paste of overnight soaked seeds is a good remedy for hair fall. It also cures dandruff and makes your hair healthy and shiny.
- Digestive disorders: Fenugreek (methi) soaked in curd is beneficial as it relieves pravahika (intermittent loose motions, defecation and constipation).
- Fenugreek is generally considered to be safe when used moderately.
- Fenugreek use during pregnancy is not recommended, since it has the potential to induce labor. If you are pregnant and wish to take it, you should do so only after consultation with your doctor.
- Fenugreek should be used cautiously if patient is already on anti-diabetic medication as in recent studies it is found to possess hypoglycaemic action.
- Parts used: seeds, whole plant
- Dose: Seed powder - 1-3 grams
- Hindi name: Methi (मेथी)
- Sanskrit name: Methika( मेथिका)
- Guna (गुण): Laghu (लघु), Snigdh (स्निग्ध)
- Ras (रस ): Katu (कटु) , Tikat (तिक्त)
- Virya (वीर्य): Ushan (उष्ण)
- Vipaka (विपाक): Katu (कटु)
Doshkarm (pharmacological action): Vatashamak, Kaphavatashamak
Modern scientific explanation
- English name: Fenugreek
- Botanical name: Trigonella foenumgraecum
- Family: Fabaceae
- Chemical constituents: Proteins, fats, carbohydrate, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, potassium and vitamins. It also has alkaloids like- trigonelline, trigocoumarin etc.