Fenugreek seed is the ripe fruit of an annual herb. This robust herb has light green leaves, is 30-60 cm tall and produces slender, beaked pods, 10-15 cm long, each pod contains 10-20 small hard yellowish brown seeds, which are smooth and oblong, about 3mm long, each grooved across one corner, giving them a hooked appearance.
ORIGIN AND DISTRIBUTION
Fenugreek is a native of South Eastern Europe and West Asia, now cultivated in India, Argentina, Egypt and Mediterranean countries (Southern France, Morocco and Lebanon). In India it is grown extensively in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab. It is a cold season crop and is fairly tolerant to frost and very low temperature. It is best suited to tracts of moderate to low rainfall and is sown in all types of soil but perform better in loam and clayey loam with proper drainage. It can also be grown on black cotton soils.
English name– Fenugreek
Hindi name– Methi
Family name– Fabaceae
Botanical name– Trigonella foenum-graecum
Fenugreek is used both as a food and food additive as well as in medicines. Fresh tender pods, leaves and shoots are eaten as curried vegetable. As a spice, it flavours food. Powder of dried leaves is also used for garnishing and flavouring variety of food. Fenugreek extract is used as a flavouring agent of imitation maple syrup. It is one of the principle constituent of curry powder.
The seeds are used in colic flatulence, dysentery, diarrhoea, dyspepsia, chronic cough and enlargement of liver and spleen, rickets, gout and diabetes. It is also used as a carminative, tonic, and aphrodisiac. Fenugreek oil is used in the manufacture of hair tonics.
Boosts Milk Production in Breastfeeding Mothers:
Fenugreek has traditionally been used in Ayurveda by breast feeding mothers to increase milk production. Fenugreek contains a compound called diosgenin, which stimulates the milk production in women.
Also fenugreek is rich source of magnesium and Vitamins which makes it highly nutritious for new born babies.
Also a study published in the International Breastfeeding Journal suggested that application of peppermint water may help prevent nipple cracks and nipple pain in first-time mothers who are breastfeeding. Aniseeds are also known to help lactating mothers.
Can benefit Diabetics:
Fenugreek seeds are helpful in the treatment of diabetes. It stimulates the insulin production. Also Galactomannan, a natural soluble fibre present in fenugreek slows down the rate of sugar absorption into blood. Thus Fenugreek is very helpful in the treatment of Diabetics.
Fenugreek has been used as an aphrodisiac since ages. Studies have found that consumption of Fenugreek boosts production of testosterone in men, which in turn can increase libido in men.
Acidity and Heartburn:
Heartburn is caused when the acids in the stomach are pushed back to the esophagus. Acid reflux can result in heartburn. Fenugreek contain soluble fiber that absorb the excessive acids thus improving the symptoms. By reducing the symptoms of acid reflux, fenugreek is considered as a great remedy for this disease.
May Help To Prevent Weight Gain:
Fenugreek is known to aid and strengthen our digestive system and metabolism. Fenugreek are rich in soluble fiber known as galactomannan which swells in our stomach and thus make us feel full faster. The fibre content along with the anti-oxidants also helps in removing the toxins from the body.
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Fenugreek seeds also contain some compounds called diosgenin which have anti-cancer properties. It has anti-cancer effects on prostate, pancreatic, colon and breast cancer cells. Certain Compounds found in fenugreek known as saponins stop the multiplication of cancer cells.
Fenugreek Helps in lowering blood cholesterol levels. Fenugreek seeds are a rich source of a compound called steroidal saponin. This substance helps in preventing the absorption of cholesterol and triglycerides into the blood stream, thereby reducing the serum cholesterol levels. It is primarily beneficial in lowering the levels of total cholesterol, LDL, VLDL and triglycerides. Fenugreek, however, may not have much impact on the HDL levels.
Menstrual Pain And Cramping:
Fenugreek, relieves the pain and cramping without adverse effects. In a study where girls with dysmenorrhea were given fenugreek powder or placebo, it was found that the pain associated with menstruation reduced to a large extent in the group taking the fenugreek powder. The girls also reported a reduction in the symptoms like nausea, headache, tiredness, syncope, vomiting etc.
Asafoetida is also known to give relief in menstrual pain and cramping.
Fenugreek is highly beneficial to our skin. It has anti-inflammatory properties, and topical application of fenugreek can help from inflammation. It contains the extremely rare fiber type known as mucilage, a sticky fiber that gels in the presence of water, forming a sort of paste. It is an excellent moisturizing agent.
Application of a fenugreek seed paste also decreases the amount of melanin present in the skin, thus minimising the damage on the skin due to UV exposure.
Fenugreek also helps in getting rid of blemishes, acne, wrinkles and blackheads. It also helps in lightening and exfoliating the skin. Since it is an anti-oxidant, it helps in preventing damage to the skin from free radicals and excessive exposure to the sun.
Dandruff and Hair Growth:
Fenugreek seeds contain nicotinic acid, and lecithin, both of which are good for hair growth. It keeps the scalp cool and also helps in reducing the occurrence of dandruff. It acts as a hair conditioner, reduces hair loss and strengthens the hair follicles.
All these benefits of fenugreek can be obtained by topical application of fenugreek through masks and packs, as well as incorporating it in the diet.
Fenugreek is rich source of vitamin C, protein, niacin, diosgenin, and potassium. It is also rich in lysine, alkaloids, steroidal saponins and ltryptophana. These essential nutrients can benefit the patients with kidney failure.
Also Fenugreek increases the amount of red blood cells that can deliver oxygenated blood to the kidneys, reduces stone formation and promotes excretion of nitrogen compounds and normalized creatinine excretion as well. Coupled with reducing oxidative damage, and increasing kidney mass, fenugreek offers powerful support for your kidneys.
In a study significant reduction was found in calcification and total calcium in the kidney of treated laboratory animals, compared with ones that were not treated with fenugreek.
Fenugreek possesses anti-oxidant properties which is quite beneficial to combat the free radicals that are generated in the body. Free radicals lead to oxidative stress in the body. This stress can result in conditions like Cancer, heart ailments and inflammatory diseases. This benefit of fenugreek can be attributed to the presence of phenolic compounds in it.
Fenugreek can help to reduce the development of Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Fenugreek has an enzyme known as acetylcholinesterase, which allows for enhanced function of the important brain neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and reduction in the production of proteins that foster plaque development in the brain. As a result, brain inflammation can be reduced significantly along with possible mental deficits and cognitive impairment.
Fenugreek has a great source of iron. Moreover, fenugreek can help to boost the production of new red blood cell. The leaves of fenugreek are rich in Iron which helps in blood formation. Apart from Iron, it is also rich in zinc, sodium, potassium and certain other trace minerals which are really good for health.
Sore throat is a common inflammatory health problem that can affect people of all ages. Using fenugreek seeds can reduce swelling and inflammation caused by a sore throat.
Other commonly used home remedies which can also help the symptoms of respiratory health and asthma are Ginger, Garlic, Curry Leaves, Coriander, Cloves, Cinnamon, Chilies, Cardamom, Bay Leaves, Basil, Asafoetida, Aniseeds and Mint,
Fenugreek is effective in treating bad breath especially when this condition is caused by catarrhal infections. Sufferers from bad breath should gargle with fenugreek solution daily. You can drink fenugreek tea to remove the bacteria between your teeth or on the back of your tongue that cause bad breath.
Studies suggest that very high doses can cause numerous adverse side effects. High dosages of fennel seeds may cause diarrhea and indigestion. Other side effect of fenugreek is that it can cause uterine contractions, hence is not advisable to be taken by pregnant women. Always consult your doctor before taking any supplement.
Effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc.) and fenugreek (Trigonella foenumgraecum L.) on blood lipids, blood sugar and platelet aggregation in patients with coronary artery disease – PubMed (nih.gov)
Effect of fenugreek seeds on blood glucose and serum lipids in type I diabetes – PubMed (nih.gov) Anti-inflammatory and antipyretic effects of Trigonella foenum-graecum leaves extract in the rat – ScienceDirect
Diosgenin, a steroid saponin of Trigonella foenum graecum (Fenugreek), inhibits azoxymethane-induced aberrant crypt foci formation in F344 rats and induces apoptosis in HT-29 human colon cancer cells – PubMed (nih.gov)