Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is an annual herb with yellow flowers and seed-containing pods that are native to Asia and the Mediterranean. The seeds have been used throughout history for cooking, flavoring, and healing. Fenugreek has a strong flavor of maple, so much so that it’s a common flavoring in imitation maple syrup. In their raw form, however, fenugreek seeds taste bitter; heating or roasting reduces the bitterness and brings out the sweetness.
Nutritional Value of Fenugreek.
One tablespoon of ground fenugreek contains:
▪️6 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of which is fiber.
▪️1 gram of fat.
▪️2.5 grams of protein.
▪️3.7 mg, or 20% of your daily needs.
▪️7% of your daily manganese needs.
▪️Magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Fenugreek is taken by mouth for digestive problems such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, constipation, inflammation of the stomach (gastritis). Fenugreek is also used for diabetes, painful menstruation, polycystic ovary syndrome, and obesity. It is also used for conditions that affect heart health such as “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis) and for high blood levels of certain fats including cholesterol and triglycerides.
Fenugreek is used for kidney ailments, a vitamin deficiency disease called beriberi, mouth ulcers, boils, bronchitis, infection of the tissues beneath the surface of the skin (cellulitis), tuberculosis, chronic coughs, chapped lips, baldness, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and exercise performance.
Some men use fenugreek for hernia, erectile dysfunction (ED), male infertility, and other male problems. Both men and women use fenugreek to improve sexual interest.
Women who are breast-feeding sometimes use fenugreek to promote milk flow.
Fenugreek is sometimes used as a poultice. That means it is wrapped in cloth, warmed, and applied directly to the skin to treat local pain and swelling (inflammation), muscle pain, pain and swelling of lymph nodes (lymphadenitis), pain in the toes (gout), wounds, leg ulcers, and eczema.
In foods, fenugreek is included as an ingredient in spice blends. It is also used as a flavoring agent in imitation maple syrup, foods, beverages, and tobacco.
In manufacturing, fenugreek extracts are used in soaps and cosmetics.
1. Breast Milk Supply.
Fenugreek is the most popular herbal remedy used around the world for increasing the production of breast milk. When 124 lactation consultants were surveyed in 2012 about folk remedies to promote lactation, fenugreek was the most commonly recommended method. Although it’s employed by millions of women to stimulate breast milk, only a few studies have investigated fenugreek for this use.
In one 14-day study, researchers reported that new mothers taking fenugreek tea increased breast milk production that helped babies gain more weight.In another study, the volume of pumped milk from mothers who consumed fenugreek tea doubled compared to that of other mothers—2.5 ounces compared to 1.15 ounces. In another study, mothers taking 600-milligram capsules of fenugreek seeds three times daily for a month had an increase in breast milk production of 20%—although that wasn’t a significant difference compared to the placebo group.
Fenugreek is thought to boost the production of breast milk due to an effect on the stimulation of sweat production, and mammary glands are sweat glands that have been modified by hormonal stimulation.
2. Blood Sugar Reduction in People With Diabetes.
Numerous animal studies and preliminary trials in humans show fenugreek may help to lower blood sugar. In a two-month, double-blind study of 25 people, use of fenugreek (one gram a day of a standardized extract) significantly improved some measures of blood sugar control and insulin response as compared to placebo. Triglyceride levels decreased and HDL “good” cholesterol levels increased, most likely due to the enhanced insulin sensitivity.
Another study where 18 people with type 2 diabetes took 10 grams a day of powdered fenugreek seeds mixed with yogurt or soaked in hot water, those taking the seeds soaked in hot water saw a 25% decrease in fasting blood sugar, a 30% decrease in triglycerides, and a 31% decrease in very-low-density lipoprotein, a type of fat that carries cholesterol and triglycerides through your bloodstream. Those who consumed powdered fenugreek seeds mixed with yogurt saw no significant changes.
Fenugreek may also help prevent the onset of diabetes. One three-year study found that people with prediabetes who took five grams of fenugreek powder twice a day before meals were significantly less likely to develop diabetes, possibly due to a decrease in insulin resistance. LDL “bad” cholesterol was also significantly reduced.
3. Increases testosterone.
According to several studies, fenugreek extract may help increase testosterone levels in men, possibly due to the presence of steroidal saponins such as furostanol glycosides.
A study also found that fenugreek extract, in combination with Lespedeza cuneata extracts, significantly improved the symptoms of testosterone deficiency syndrome (TDS).
Other Health Benefits of Fenugreek.
Fenugreek is known to offer the following health benefits, although no sufficient evidence is yet available to support these claims.
▪️Promotes heart health.
Studies on rats revealed that some properties of fenugreek helped prevent injury to cardiac tissue.
Fenugreek extract may have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects that can help reduce arthritis-related pain and swelling, but there isn’t enough research to back this claim.
▪️Helps with PCOS management.
Fenugreek extract tablets were shown in one study to reduce ovarian cysts. Another study found that fenugreek extract, taken with metformin, improved insulin resistance in women with PCOS.
▪️Enhances exercise performance.
One study suggested that fenugreek may help enhance upper and lower body strength.
▪️Promotes wound healing.
Fenugreek has historically been used in oils and creams to aid in wound healing, which may be a result of its strong antioxidant activity.
▪️Combats skin diseases.
The linolenic and linoleum acids found in a fenugreek seed extract may exhibit anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties that can help relieve eczema and other similar skin conditions.
▪️Supports hair health.
Your hair is made up of protein and fenugreek contains lots of it.
▪️Fights colds and flu.
Fenugreek is an antiviral, antibacterial, and antioxidant agent that can help ward off infection-causing germs.
Fenugreek is LIKELY SAFE for people when taken by mouth in amounts normally found in foods. It is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth in amounts used for medicinal purposes (amounts larger than normally found in food) for up to 6 months. Side effects include diarrhea, stomach upset, bloating, gas, dizziness, headache, and a “maple syrup” odor in urine. Fenugreek can cause nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing, facial swelling, and severe allergic reactions in hypersensitive people. Fenugreek might lower blood sugar.
Those taking diabetic medications or blood thinners should be cautious about taking fenugreek, as it may lower the blood sugar and thin the blood to dangerous levels.
Donna Murray (13-9-2019), “The Health Benefits of Fenugreek”، www.verywellfamily.com
Laura Krebs-Holm (10-4-2020), “What Are the Health Benefits of Fenugreek and How to Maximize Them?”، www.emedihealth.com