Fenugreek is a plant from the legume or bean and pea family that’s been used for thousands of years in cooking, traditional herbal medicine and treating animal feed. The name “fenugreek” comes from the Greek word meaning “Greek hay” where the fragrant leaves, flowers and seeds of the fenugreek plant was mixed into cattle fodder to improve the taste of deteriorating hay. The Egyptians used the oil from fenugreek seeds as an embalming staple and the Indian culture has long used fenugreek, or “methi”, as a main ingredient in curries to give them strong flavor. 1,2,3
Fenugreek originated in the Mediterranean and east Asia and it’s now grown around the world. Fenugreek plants produce bean-like pods that contain about twenty small flat seeds, noticeable by being divided into two unequal lobes. Fenugreek seeds have a strong bitter smell and taste when raw but change to sweet, sugary and highly aromatic when dried or cooked. 1,3
Fenugreek Seeds Health Uses and Health Benefits
Fenugreek seeds contain highly-beneficial volatile oils and alkaloids similar to the chemical composition of cod liver oil. They possess strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial qualities that are effective in controlling blood pressure, cholesterol levels, cardiovascular blockages, reducing fevers and swelling as well as being an effective skin treatment. 1,2,3,4
Fenugreek seeds benefits come from a host of vitamins, minerals and polysaccharides. Fenugreek seeds contain high amounts of vitamins A, B6, C, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin and folic acid. Minerals in fenugreek seeds include zinc, copper, manganese, magnesium, calcium, potassium and high levels of easily-absorbed iron. Polysaccharides such as saponins, pectin, tannin, mucilage and hemicellulose work to reduce harmful levels of LDL cholesterol and maintain healthy levels of HDL. 4
Other fenugreek seeds uses include being natural herbal remedies for:
- Heart Disease - Heart disease is a general term for various heart ailments like coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, heart arrhythmias and hypertension. Fenugreek seeds contain a high amount of galactomannan which is a natural soluble fiber proven to reduce forms of heart disease.
- Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) - Hypertension effects can be controlled by reducing cholesterol-caused artery blockages associated with cardiovascular disease. Properties in fenugreek seeds work to reduce LDL cholesterol and clean arteries thereby dropping blood pressure and reducing hypertension.
- Mumps - Mumps are a viral infection causing the salivary glands to severely swell. Anti-inflammatory capabilities found in fenugreek seeds work to reduce swelling associated with mumps.
- Yellow Fever - Yellow Fever is an acute viral disease that causes high fever, headaches and gastrointestinal disruption. Fenugreek seeds are known to be similar to quinine in treating fevers and are one of the best remedies for reducing yellow fever and clearing associated symptoms.
- High Cholesterol (Hypercholesterolemia) - Fenugreek seeds benefits are proven to reduce harmful LDL lipoproteins that contribute to plaque buildup in coronary arteries. Polysaccharides contained in fenugreek seeds are the active cholesterol controlling agents.
- Dandruff - Fenugreek seeds for dandruff contain protein that helps treat dry scalp skin. Fenugreek seeds uses include being added to dandruff shampoos and are also applied directly to the scalp as a wet poultice.
Fenugreek Seeds Side Effects and Precautions
There are few fenugreek seeds side effects. Some people have digestive reactions to fenugreek seeds that produce gas, bloating and diarrhea. 3
Fenugreek seeds are known blood thinners. They may prevent clotting and make anticoagulant medications dangerous. People taking blood thinning medication like naproxen ibuprofen, aspirin and warfarin should be careful in taking fenugreek seeds as a supplement. 3,4
Fenugreek seeds side effects are also observed in pregnant women as fenugreek can cause uterine contractions and may contribute to miscarriages. 4