Fenugreek is one of the oldest cultivated medicinal plants in the world. It’s native to southern Europe and Asia and is an annual herb from the legume family. The plant grows in warm regions to a height of two feet and produces small, white flowers and long pods that contain about 15 to 20 small, golden-brown seeds.1
Ground fenugreek seeds are popular in Indian cooking and they’ve been known to have been used back in ancient Egypt as part of their embalming procedures. The raw seeds have a bitter taste and a pungent aroma described as similar to burnt celery or maple sugar, however the cooked seeds have a very pleasant and unique taste.2
Beyond being a staple food spice, fenugreek has medicinal properties and can be taken orally as ground seeds or made into a topical paste. Fenugreek uses include extract and oil that are known to possess antimicrobial, antioxidant, antidiabetic and antitumorigenic activities.1,2
Fenugreek is called methi, bird’s foot, Greek hay and bockshornsame. 1
Fenugreek Health Uses and Health Benefits
Fenugreek health uses and benefits derive from the seeds being rich in minerals like potassium, iron, copper, zinc, manganese and magnesium as well as vitamins A, B6 and C. Fenugreek also contains thiamin, folic acid, riboflavin and polysaccharides. Known benefits from Fenugreek uses include:1,2,3
- Inflammation reduction
- Improving digestion
- Lowering cholesterol
- Promoting milk flow in breastfeeding
- Increasing male libido
- Improving exercising performance
Other proven fenugreek uses and fenugreek health benefits are:
- Baldness - Baldness is a hair loss condition that affects both men and women. While not a true health hazard, baldness is an appearance issue that can deeply affect a person’s mental well-being and self-esteem. Studies indicate that orally ingesting fenugreek helps to prevent premature hair loss. Topical applications of fenugreek extract have had positive results.
- Hiccups - Hiccups is the unintentional movement of the diaphragm at the base of the lungs. The muscle contraction forces a quick closing of the vocal cords that produces the “hic” sound associated with the reaction. There are a number of causes for hiccups such as overeating, spicy foods and alcohol. Fenugreek is known to calm the diaphragm and relieve hiccup symptoms.
- Diabetes - Diabetes mellitus or hyperglycemia is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels. Type 1 diabetes is the more serious form and must be treated with insulin. Type 2, the more common form, is where sugar stays in the blood when the body can’t keep up with insulin production. Fenugreek has medicinal properties which help the body naturally regulate glucose levels.
- Osteoarthritis - Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and causes joint pain and swelling resulting in reduced mobility. It’s generally associated with people who are aging, being overweight or suffering a joint injury. Fenugreek use reduces joint inflammation and painful symptoms.
- Peptic Ulcer - A peptic ulcer is a sore in the lining of the stomach or duodenum. Burning intestinal pain is the primary symptom and can be acute or chronic. Excessive acid is the primary cause of irritation as well as a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. Regularly ingesting fenugreek will help to control acid and the bacterium, thereby relieving discomfort.
- Post-Nasal Drip - Post-nasal drip syndrome (PNDS) occurs when excess mucus is produced in the nose. It’s caused by rhinitis, sinusitis and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Regular intake of fenugreek is proven to help reduce PNDS.
Fenugreek Side Effects and Precautions
There are little fenugreek side effects. However, fenugreek may cause bloating, gas or diarrhea in some. Use caution when taking fenugreek during pregnancy. Fenugreek may also cause excessive bleeding in some who have underlying bleeding disorders. 2