Fenugreek (also known as Greek Hay and Fenugreek), is an herb that is commonly found growing 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.It is a member of the bean family and its scientific family name is Fabaceae.
Methi or fenugreek seeds and leaves form an important ingredient in Indian households. It is used in almost every Indian preparation be it dal, paratha or curry. But what you might not know is that methi or fenugreek is a rich reservoir of medicinal properties that imparts many health benefits. Here are 15 reasons why you should include methi in your diet more often.
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).The health benefits of fenugreek include relief from anemia, loss of taste, fever, dandruff, stomach disorders, biliousness, respiratory disorders, mouth ulcers, sore throat, diabetes, inflammations, wounds and insomnia. It is beneficial post pregnancy in lactation and helps in improving digestion, as well as in various hair care applications. It is also shown to reduce cholesterol levels and protect heart health, while simultaneously boosting the immune system and protecting you against flu and various infections.
Fenugreek is an annual plant that is also known as methi in many places of the world. It is native to the Middle and Near East, and is widely used on the Indian subcontinent. It has small round leaves that can be dried, as well as seeds. There is even evidence that the ancient Egyptians understood the benefits of fenugreek, since fenugreek seeds have been found in tombs, particularly of King Tutankhamen.
This plant is grown in countries across the globe, but the majority is cultivated and consumed in India. Fenugreek is interesting, because it can be used for three distinct purposes. The leaves can be dried and used as herbs, the seeds can be ground into a spice, and the plant matter itself can be used as a vegetable, like sprouts and microgreens. This makes fenugreek so important, because there are healthy attributes in all of those plant parts that can boost your health!
Most of the health benefits of fenugreek are due to the presence of saponins and fiber that it contains. Fenugreek is also used for herbal healing. Its seeds contain a gumming substance called mucilage and when mixed with water, mucilage expands and becomes a gelatinous salve for irritated tissues.
Fenugreek contains a wide variety of beneficial nutrients, including iron, magnesium, manganese, and copper, as well as vitamin B6, protein, and dietary fiber. Fenugreek also contains a number of powerful phytonutrients, including choline, trigonelline, yamogenin, gitogenin, diosgenin, tigogenin and neotigogens.
What are the HEALTH BENEFITS of Fenugreek?
Due to its estrogen-like properties, fenugreek seeds have 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. The health benefits of fenugreek are explained in greater detail below.
Fenugreek is also used to treat wounds, inflammation and gastrointestinal ailments. Fenugreek helps in battling free radicals due to its antioxidant capacity. According to ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, fenugreek can be used for inducing labor and aiding digestion. It is also good at improving the body’s overall metabolism and health. Irritated skin conditions can even be soothed by the external application of fenugreek. Furthermore, fenugreek is used for fevers and muscle aches.
Fenugreek is considered to be a safe, herbal food. It is used as a spice in many cultures and tastes oddly of bitter celery and maple syrup.
REGULATES BLOOD SUGAR
Fenugreek powder may help control blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. A 2005 study published in The British Journal Pharmacology found that fenugreek seed extract stimulated the secretion of insulin and reduced blood sugar levels in mice. This research has positive implications for the use of fenugreek in managing diabetes. Studies have shown that participants with type 2 diabetes had significantly lower blood sugar levels after eating fenugreek seeds. Therefore, a recommended home remedy for treating Type 2 diabetes is to consume 500mg of fenugreek seed twice daily.
Diabetic must include methi (either in the form of seeds or leaves) in their diet because galactomannan, a natural soluble fibre present in fenugreek, slows down the rate of sugar absorption into blood. It also contains amino acid responsible for inducing the production of insulin.
Fenugreek helps to alleviate type II diabetes. According to one study, it may also help people with Type I diabetes. Studies done by Indian researchers revealed that fenugreek added to type I diabetic patients’ diets helped to drop urinary sugar level by 54%. Because of the presence of the natural fiber galactomannan, fenugreek slows down the rate at which sugar is absorbed into bloodstream. A certain amino acid (4-hydroxyisoleucine) in fenugreek induces the production of insulin so therefore, 15-20 grams of fenugreek is recommended for controlling blood sugar on a daily basis. By slowly releasing insulin to the body rather than in massive chunks, overall bodily function is improved, and the plunges and peaks of blood sugar won’t be an issue for diabetic patients.
LOWER CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
As a rich source of dietary fiber, fenugreek powder may have a cholesterol-lowering effect. Researchers suggest that the rich soluble fiber content of fenugreek prevents the uptake of cholesterol and bile acids. Additional evidence indicates that fenugreek contains saponins which inhibit the production and absorption of cholesterol.
According to studies fenugreek helps to reduce cholesterol level, especially that of the low density lipoprotein (LDL). They are known to be rich source of steroidal saponins that prevent the absorption of cholesterol and triglycerides. MIRACLE MOLASSES can help reduce cholesterol lev
HOME REMEDY FOR FEVER The Fenugreek herb has been known to help reduce fever when taken with lemon and honey, since it nourishes the body during an illness. Therefore, to treat a fever, simply consume one to two teaspoons of Fenugreek seeds three times a day along with an herbal tea (such as green tea) with a teaspoon of honey and lemon juice. Some health food stores also sell herbal Fenugreek teas, which can be used instead of the green tea. Fenugreek when taken with a teaspoon of lemon and honey can work wonders to reduce fever by nourishing the body. Fenugreek’s soothing mucilage also helps to relieve sore throat pain and cough.
BREAST ENLARGEMENT Fenugreek is often used in many teas and other products that help balance women's hormones and/or enlarge the breasts. Therefore, a simple home remedy for breast enlargement is to make Fenugreek a part of your regular diet. A common suggestion is to consume up to 3g of Fenugreek seed per day. The oestrogen-like property of fenugreek can help in breast enlargement by balancing hormones in women.
INCREASES MILK PRODUCTION IN LACTATING WOMEN Fenugreek ranks high among the ‘must haves’ for nursing mothers. It has been known to increase milk production in lactating women. Research has even shown that milk production can increase by over 500 percent within 24 to 72 hours after consuming this herb. Although it is not known why this happens, researchers speculate that the oil contained in fenugreek seeds plays a role. Therefore, a recommended remedy to increase milk flow is to consume one capsule of fenugreek seed (at least 500mg) three times a day. This is due to the presence of diosgenin in the spice which increases milk production in lactating mothers.
India’s traditional ayurvedic physicians prescribe fenugreek to nursing mothers. This benefit is attributed to the presence of diosgenin in fenugreek. This can help increase the amount of milk that is produced by the breasts, and the magnesium and vitamin content of fenugreek also help the milk’s quality to keep your infant healthy.
MINIMIZE SYMPTOMS OF MENOPAUSE
Fenugreek contains the chemicals diosgenin and estrogenic isoflavones, which are similar to the female sex hormone, estrogen. Loss of estrogen causes menopausal symptoms. So, eating fenugreek helps to reduce menopausal symptoms like mood swings, depression, cramps, and abnormal hunger pangs. Fenugreek helps to monitor a number of other hormones as well, keeping many other bodily processes in line as well.
REDUCE MENSTRUAL DISCOMFORT Fenugreek contains compounds like diosgenin and isoflavones with oestrogen-like properties which help reduce symptoms like discomfort and menstrual cramps associated with PMS. These compounds also ease menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and mood fluctuations. Women are more prone to iron deficiency during adolescence (initiation of menstrual periods), during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Including green leafy veggies like fenugreek (methi) in your diet can supply a good amount of iron. But make sure to add tomatoes or potatoes to the preparations to enhance the iron absorption. Here are more ways to reduce your menstrual discomfort.Fenugreek is considered as a potent substance that eases the process of menstruation and relieves the associated symptoms. It is an emmenagogue, which means that it can open up obstructed menses to make the most feminine of processes work smoothly and comfortably.
REDUCES CARDIOVASCULAR RISK
Fenugreek seeds contain 25% galactomannan. This is a type of natural soluble fiber which specifically relates to a reduction in cardiovascular disease.
Fenugreek adds bulk to the stool due to its high fiber content. This also makes it helpful in treating constipation and diarrhea, while also relieving minor indigestion.
PREVENTS COLON CANCER
Fenugreek possesses anti-carcinogenic potential. The steroid diosgenin in Fenugreek has been specifically linked to colon cancer prevention. Furthermore, the various non-starch polysaccharides like saponins, hemicellulose, mucilage, tannin, and pectin, lower cholesterol levels and inhibit bile salts from being reabsorbed by the colon. The fibre content (saponins, mucilage, etc.) of fenugreek binds to toxins in the food and flush them out. This in turn helps to protect the mucus membrane of the colon, which can reduce colorectal cancer and other conditions that can negatively affect the colon.
REDUCES RISK OF HEART DISEASE Due to the presence of galactomannan, fenugreek plays a key role in maintain your heart health. It also contains high amount of potassium that counters the action of sodium to help control heart rate and blood pressure. Read about yoga for healthy heart.
AIDS IN DIGESTION As fenugreek is rich in fibre and antioxidants, it helps in flushing out harmful toxins from the body and thus, aids digestion. In some cases, fenugreek tea is used to relieve indigestion and stomach pain. You can even drink fenugreek decoction early in the morning to deal with constipation.
AIDS IN WEIGHT LOSS Include fenugreek in your weight loss diet by chewing soaked methi seeds in the morning on an empty stomach. The natural soluble fibre in the fenugreek can swell and fill the stomach thereby suppressing your appetite and aiding your weight loss goals. The natural soluble fiber galactomannan can swell in the stomach and thus suppress appetite by making you feel full.
RESOLVE HAIR PROBLEMS Using fenugreek as a part of your diet or as a paste to directly apply on your hair makes your hair shiny and black. Massaging your head everyday with boiled fenugreek seeds soaked overnight in coconut oil can be an excellent remedy for thinning of hair and hair fall. What more? Fenugreek is also great to keep the dandruff away.
What are the SIDE EFFECTS of Fenugreek? While Fenugreek is generally considered to be safe when used moderately, there have been reports of a few minor side-effects. Nausea is one common side effect, while other people have reported gastrointestinal discomfort (diarrhea and/or gas). Also, when using this herb topically on the skin, it is important to watch out for skin irritations and rashes. 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.
The only side effect seen in people taking high doses of fenugreek is mild gastrointestinal distress. Fenugreek is not recommended during pregnancy because it may lead to miscarriage due to its strong effect on the female reproductive system.
If you are currently taking any oral medications, you should always use this herb at least 2 hours before or after these drugs. This is important since Fenugreek fiber has the potential to interfere with the absorption of oral medications due to its mucilaginous fiber (which gives it a moist and sticky texture).