What is fenugreek?

Fenugreek is the delicious seed of this Trigonella foenum-graecum plant. It's an often overlooked but highly effective herb in regards to imbalances of Vata and Kapha. Not only can it be warming, but it also has a sweet flavor and a nourishing, unctuous quality, which produces a strong grounding effect within the body. 

Fenugreek has been an essential component of Ayurveda. It's called methika in Sanskrit and methi in Hindi. Fenugreek or methi is an extremely popular culinary spice, flavoring agent, and medicinal plant in Indian families.

It's used in bakery goods, dairy products, condiments, spices, pickles, and drinks for its taste and numerous health benefits.

Fenugreek or methi also has industrial uses since it's used for synthesizing steroidal hormones. As a result of the vital role in health care, the food industry means fenugreek as a potential nutraceutical (food with both pharmaceutical and nutritional properties). Methi or methika grows in Asia (India and China), parts of Europe, Africa, Australia, and North and South America.


See: Ayurvedic herbs for constipation relief

Ayurvedic use of fenugreek or methi

Ayurvedic Properties of Methika or Fenugreek:

- Rasa or flavor: Katu or pungent

- Guna or attributes: Laghu or mild, Snigdha or oily

- Popular Ayurvedic formula : Methi modaka.

- Virya or effectiveness: Ushna

- Vipaka or flavor conversion following digestion: Katu or pungent

- Effect on dosha: It's Vata shamak. Vata shamak means it pacifies an aggravated Vata dosha because of its ushna virya and Snigdha guna.

This gorgeous herb nourishes tissues and promotes the healthy flow of energy and nutrients throughout the body by keeping channels open and relaxed.  Fenugreek is an herb in the same household as soy. Today, people utilize its fresh and dried seeds, leaves, stalks, and roots as a spice, flavoring agent, and nutritional supplement. While more research is essential, some studies reveal that fenugreek may have diverse health benefits.

Fenugreek may be able to help manage the risk of:

- cancer care

- high blood pressure

- heart ailments

- fungal, bacterial, and viral infections

- diabetes

- obesity

- high cholesterol

- inflammation

However, consuming or using compounds in fenugreek can cause uterine contractions during pregnancy and worsen hormone-sensitive kinds of cancer. Fenugreek is one of the ancient medicinally used plants, with origins in the traditional Chinese and Indian medicine system. Fenugreek extracts are used in many common products, such as:

- soaps

- makeup

- teas

- imitation maple syrup products

- garam masala, a spice mix

- condiments


See: Ayurvedic therapy herbs to increase breast milk to increase lactation

Fenugreet nutrition facts

Nutrition of fenugreek

Fenugreek includes many essential nutrients, and these make it a powerful antioxidant. Some of these nutrients include:

- Choline

- B vitamins

- vitamin D

- inositol

- biotin

- vitamin A

- soluble and insoluble fiber

- iron

Fenugreek may help with digestive problems, arthritis, and low testosterone. Currently, there's not enough conclusive evidence to fully support the use of fenugreek for any medical purpose.

See: Heart healthy diet plan to prevent heart disease

Fenugreek health benefits

Health Benefits of Fenugreek:

Fenugreek has been taken over the centuries to promote health and well-being. It had been used to treat respiratory and digestive disorders. It has a long history of usage in women's health--to induce labor and assist with childbirth, and as a treatment for gynecological issues like painful menstruation and uterine issues. Though other advantages are being studied, now fenugreek is most commonly researched and used for two purposes: as a galactagogue, something which may enable a breastfeeding mother to increase her breast milk supply, and as a means to decrease glucose levels in diabetics.

Due to its healing nature and bitter flavor, this seed is an exceptional appetite builder and digestive aid. It powerfully moves Vata downward, relieving occasional gas or distress. As it strengthens the fundamental digestive fire, the seeds maintain the plasma and blood healthy. Further, due to its fiber content, if the seeds are eaten and chewed after you finish your tea, the fenugreek may keep the body from digesting and absorbing excessive amounts of cholesterol. Among other advantages, some research suggests that fenugreek can help with the following:

- Reduce  Blood Sugar for Diabetes: Numerous studies show fenugreek may support to reduce blood sugar. The use of fenugreek significantly improved some measures of blood glucose control and insulin response when compared with the placebo. Triglyceride levels decreased, and HDL "good" cholesterol levels were increased, probably due to the improved insulin sensitivity. Several studies in animals have demonstrated that at least four chemicals in fenugreek have antidiabetic properties.

- Boost milk production and flow: For centuries, Ayurveda has encouraged the use of fenugreek to construct nutritious milk flow in nursing mothers. Contemporary research shows that this result is probably attributed to phytoestrogens and a chemical called diosgenin. Fenugreek can help stimulate breast milk production and ease the flow. Practitioners of traditional Asian medicine have recommended fenugreek for this function. In a 2014 research, 25 women who had recently given birth drank three cups of fenugreek tea daily for two weeks and found an increase in milk volume in the initial weeks.

- Boost weight loss: Fenugreek can suppress the appetite and increase feelings of fullness, which might help reduce overeating and result in weight loss. In a 2015 research, nine obese female Korean participants drank fennel, fenugreek, or placebo tea before lunch. Individuals who drank fenugreek tea reported feeling less hungry and more complete. However, the tea didn't induce the participants to eat less. Due to the fiber, fenugreek fiber extract powders can also result in a sense of fullness.

- Increase testosterone and boost sperm count: Fenugreek can help increase low sperm and testosterone levels. Research suggests that the extract consistently improved mental alertness, mood, and endurance. It's the nurturing and grounding aspects of the herb, which produce it fantastic for reproductive health.

- Reduce inflammation: The significant levels of antioxidants in fenugreek give it great potential as an anti-inflammatory agent. Outcomes of a 2012 research in mice indicate that the high antioxidant flavonoid content in fenugreek seeds can decrease inflammation.

- Reduce the risk of heart disease and blood pressure conditions: Fenugreek can help regulate cholesterol levels and enhance blood pressure, which can lower the chance of developing heart ailments and enhance heart health. This reduction might be because fenugreek seeds contain roughly 48 percent dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is quite tough to digest, and it creates a viscous gel in the intestines, which makes it more difficult to digest fats and sugars.

- Pain relief: Fenugreek has been used for pain relief in traditional systems of medicine. Researchers feel that compounds called alkaloids from the herb assist block sensory receptors that permit the brain to perceive pain.

- Healthful Bowel Movements: The fiber from fenugreek seeds helps maintain healthy bowel movements, regularity, and total eliminations. 

- Healthy Libido: In a controlled study with 60 healthy men, it was discovered that those taking 600 mg of fenugreek extract for six weeks had a positive impact on self-reported strength, vitality, and well-being, in addition to sexual arousal and stamina. 

- Ease Back Pain: Since the pelvis and lower back will be the chair of Vata, this herb, which is warming and soothing to Vata, can do wonders for that intermittent back discomfort. Studies show that women with painful periods benefited from fenugreek and experienced a shorter duration of pain and fewer symptoms involving the months.

- Spice Up Your Meals:  Fenugreek seeds taste great, and they encourage a robust appetite. The seeds are used in traditional Indian cooking to add a small maple syrup flavor or a sweet and slightly nutty taste. 

See: Vitamins and Supplements Commonly Used to Reverse Diabetes

Precautions & side effects

Possible Side Effects

Fenugreek does pass in the breast milk, but it is thought to be safe for both mother and baby when used in moderation. The USFDA has rated fenugreek as Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS).8 Nevertheless, always consult a physician, lactation consultant, or herbal expert before taking any herbal remedies. Herbs are very similar to medications and can have side effects, and they can be harmful to you and your baby.

- Fenugreek can cause your breast milk, urine, and sweat to smell like maple syrup. And because it passes to the infant, it may also result in your infant's urine and perspiration to smell like maple syrup. Make certain to inform your child's doctor that you are taking fenugreek. 

- A common side effect of taking fenugreek is nausea. Diarrhea can result should you begin high doses of fenugreek too fast. Nevertheless, you can usually avoid stomach issues if you begin this herb at a low dose and gradually increase it.

- You should not use fenugreek if you are pregnant. This herb has been used to induce labor, and it may cause contractions, premature labor, and miscarriage. Fenugreek may also behave similarly to estrogen from the body, which might negatively affect people with hormone-sensitive cancers.

- Generally speaking, a person with any health issue should avoid fenugreek or use it carefully. Speak with a physician before trying it.

- Fenugreek doesn't negatively interact with many medications, but a number of the herb's compounds may perform similar functions as drugs, so taking both might not be safe.

- Understanding the dangers of overdosing on fenugreek will need more study. Just like any medicinal food or nutritional supplement, it's ideal for adding fenugreek into the diet at a slow pace.


See: Ayurvedic herbs for constipation relief

Summary

Individuals have used fenugreek for hundreds of years to treat ailments ranging from unstable blood glucose to low testosterone. While it might have health benefits, fenugreek can't cure any condition. A physician should assess all symptoms whenever possible, to prevent complications. People, especially those with chronic ailments and lactating women, should talk to a health care provider before beginning fenugreek nutritional supplements or significantly increasing their dietary intake.


See: How to increase libido naturally

References

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2. Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed). Fenugreek. Updated May 1, 2019.

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4. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Fenugreek. Updated September 2019.

5. El Sakka, et al. (2014). The effect of fenugreek herbal tea and palm dates on breast milk production and infant weight.

http://www.pediatricsciences.com/article/download/1050000487/1050000357

6. Fenugreek. (2016).

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/fenugreek

7. Mandegary, A., et al. (2012). Alkaloid and flavonoid rich fractions of fenugreek seeds (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) with antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691512003043

8. Nagulapalli Venkata, K. C., et al. (2017). A small plant with big benefits: Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum‐graecum Linn.) for disease prevention and health promotion.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/mnfr.201600950

9. Knott, E. J., et al. (2017). Fenugreek supplementation during high-fat feeding improves specific markers of metabolic health.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5630574/

10. Kumar, P., et al. (2014). Fenugreek seed extract inhibits fat accumulation and ameliorates dyslipidemia in high fat diet-induced obese rats.

http://downloads.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2014/606021.pdf

11. Bae, J., et al. (2015). Fennel (foeniculum vulgare) and fenugreek (trigonella foenum-graecum) tea drinking suppresses subjective short-term appetite in overweight women.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4525133/

12. Kassaian N, Azadbakht L, Forghani B, Amini M. Effect of Fenugreek Seeds on Blood Glucose and Lipid Profiles in Type 2 Diabetic Patients. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2009;79(1):34-39. DOI:10.1024/0300-9831.79.1.34

13. Maheshwari, A., et al. (2017). Efficacy of Furosap, a novel Trigonella foenum-graecum seed extract, in enhancing testosterone level and improving sperm profile in male volunteers.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5278660/

14. Neelakantan, N., et al. (2014). Effect of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) intake on glycemia: A meta-analysis of clinical trials.

https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-13-7

15. Sinha, R., et al. (2015). Fenugreek: Pharmacological actions.

http://www.wjpps.com/download/article/1452156467.pdf

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17. Younesy, S., et al. (2014). Effects of fenugreek seed on the severity and systemic symptoms of dysmenorrhea.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955423/

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22. Gupta A, Gupta R, Lal B. Effect of Trigonella Foenum-Graecum (Fenugreek) Seeds on Glycaemic Control and Insulin Resistance in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study. J Assoc Physicians India. 2001;49:1057-1061.

See: Reverse Your Type 2 Diabetes With Yoga

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