The Benefits of Fenugreek

Names
Fenugreek has many names – Alholva, Bird’s Foot, Bockshornklee, Bockshornsame, Chandrika, Fenogreco, Foenugraeci Semen, Greek Clover, Greek Hay, Greek Hay Seed, Hu Lu Ba, Medhika, MEthi, Senegrain, Trigonella, Woo Lu Bar and more.

What is Fenugreek?

Fenugreek is a plant from the bean family that grows all year round. It is native to India, North Africa, and the Mediterranean.

For thousands of years, it has been used in alternative medicine and Chinese medicine. Across the globe, it is most commonly used as a spice and is growing popular as an herbal supplement.

It is made up of three leaves, usually in the colors green or yellow. The seeds come in various shapes and are brown in color. It embodies a hard surface and a powerful bittersweet taste which can also be a little bit spicy. The taste is usually associated with that of maple syrup.

In India, the leaves are consumed as a vegetable, and its seeds are a common ingredient that comes in the form of whole, dried or powder. Often, they are used for curry spices in many cuisines across the country.

Nutrition Facts

The benefits of this unique herb have been used by the ancient cultures of India, Egypt and, China given that it is a strong antioxidant.

Fenugreek is loaded with nutrients that are responsible for the variety of health benefits it is known for. Some of its nutrition contents include:

  • Magnesium – 191 mg
  • Calcium – 176 mg
  • Iron – 33.53 mg
  • Fiber – 24.6 g
  • Protein – 23 g
  • Vitamin A – 60 IU
  • Fats – 6.41 g
  • Water – 8.84 g
  • Energy – 323 kcal
  • Carbohydrate – 58.35 g
  • Phosphorus – 296 mg
  • Potassium – 770 mg
  • Sodium – 67 mg
  • Zinc – 2.5 mg

Uses

Although there is no research to prove that this herb is effective whenever it is used to treat medical conditions, it has been used to do so for many years.

For a long time, fenugreek has been used as an alternative medicine to treat low blood sugar levels after a meal for people who have type 1 or 2 diabetes. It can also be used as an alternative to treat heartburn, high cholesterol, weight loss, upset stomach, constipation, gout, sexual problems, fever, baldness, breast milk issues and more.

Benefits of Fenugreek

Although much research is yet to be done on the potential effects of this herb, given that it has been used as a remedy for thousands of years, certainly it must be working well for those who have taken it.

It has a wide variety of benefits, some including:

  1. Digestion and cholesterol improvements
    Due to the fiber content of fenugreek, the herb can help in lowering cholesterol levels. It reduces the risk of a variety of sicknesses including atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
    Aside from those stated above, fenugreek also improves digestion and helps when the stomach is inflamed and is undergoing constipation.
  2. Reduces menstrual discomfort
    Fenugreek helps ease the process of menstruation and relieves the symptoms that come with it. It helps open up obstructed menses and aids in relieving menstrual disorders.
  3. Reduces the risk of cancer
    The herb possesses anti-carcinogenic properties that specifically target breast cancer and colon cancer. The properties present in the herb helps inhibit the bile salts from being reabsorbed by the colon.
  4. Controls diabetes
    As earlier stated, fenugreek has a relevant contribution to alleviating type I and type II diabetes. When its seeds are added to a diabetic’s diet, it helps in lowering the blood glucose level. Because of its fiber, galactomannan, the herb slows down the rate at which sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream.
  5. Improves breastfeeding
    According to research involving 66 mothers, those who drank fenugreek tea noticed an increase in their breast milk volume. While in another study involving 77 women drinking fenugreek tea for 2 weeks had similar results.
  6. Weight loss
    Consuming fenugreek seeds help in reducing hunger and increasing the feeling of fullness. This is a good addition to the diet for those who are aiming to eat less and lose weight.
  7. Inflammation
    Given that it is a strong antioxidant, fenugreek brings an anti-inflammatory effect. Years ago, Ancient Egyptians used this to treat their injuries. In addition to that, it is also normally used to treat both internal and external inflammation.
  8. Boosts testosterone, libido and sperm count in men
    Fenugreek plays a positive role in the overall sexual performance of men. It helps boost their testosterone, treats erectile dysfunction and increases their libido. In a study from 2017, 50 volunteers consumed fenugreek seed extract, which resulted in an increase in sperm count of 85% of the participants.

Dosage

Before an individual decides to take fenugreek, it is always important to consult with a medical professional to ensure that it does not interfere with any type of medical condition or interact with certain types of medication.

If fenugreek is being consumed for specific reasons, there are certain guidelines and restrictions for the amount that is taken. Based on scientific research, the proper dosages are the following:

  • Diabetes
    The recommended dosage to treat diabetes is 5-100 grams of the powdered fenugreek seed. This can be consumed with one or two meals daily.
  • Dysmenorrhea
    For women experiencing painful menstruation, 1800-2700 mg of fenugreek seed powder can be taken three times daily for the first three days of the period. For the remaining two days of the cycle, 900 mg can be taken 3 times daily.
  • Sex drive
    600 mg of Fenugreek seed extract can be taken each day for two menstrual cycles in order to improve a woman’s sex drive.
  • Sexual performance
    For individuals who want to improve their sexual performance, 600 mg of fenugreek seed extract coupled with 34 mg of magnesium, 30 mg of zinc and 10 mg of vitamin B6 can be consumed for 6-12 weeks.

Interactions

There are specific drugs that may cause an interaction with fenugreek. It is wise to look up the drugs that may be at a high risk to this and discuss with a healthcare provider to ensure that the proper precautions take place.

Some of these common medicines include:

  • 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan)
  • Aspirin Low Strength (aspirin)
  • Blessed thistle
  • CoQ10 (ubiquinone)
  • Creatine
  • DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone)
  • Fennel
  • Fish Oil (omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids)
  • Ginger Root (ginger)
  • Ginkgo Biloba (ginkgo)
  • Glucosamine & Chondroitin with MSM (chondroitin / glucosamine / methylsulfonylmethane)
  • Honey
  • L-Arginine (arginine)
  • L-Carnitine (levocarnitine)
  • L-Lysine (lysine)
  • Levothyroxine
  • Metformin
  • Probiotic Formula (bifidobacterium infantis / lactobacillus acidophilus)
  • Pueraria
  • Reglan (metoclopramide)
  • Saw palmetto
  • Synthroid (levothyroxine)
  • Thyme
  • Tylenol (acetaminophen)
  • Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
  • Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)
  • Vitamin K (phytonadione)
  • Vitamins (multivitamin)
  • Zinc (zinc sulfate)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine)

Side effects

Although fenugreek is generally safe and is known to treat various health issues, before consuming it, or any product for that matter, it is ideal that the directions and product labels are thoroughly read to avoid taking a wrong step. In the case that the following symptoms and side effects take place, it is recommended to seek emergency medical help:

Allergic reactions

  • Hives
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Swelling of face, lips, tongue or throat

Other side effects

  • Symptoms of severe hypoglycemia including:
    – Extreme weakness
    – Confusion
    – Tremors
    – Sweating
    – Fast heart rate
    – Trouble speaking
    – Nausea
    – Vomiting
    – Rapid breathing
    – Fainting
    – Seizure
  • Unusual bruising
  • Unusual bleeding
  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach
  • Flatulence
  • Maple syrup-like odor in urine

Other ways to consume fenugreek

There is a wide variety of ways in which fenugreek can be consumed including:

  • Dried fenugreek leaves can be used as herbs.
  • Seeds can be eaten as it is and can also be used as toppings for food.
  • When lightly ground and roasted, the seeds can be sprinkled on many Asian dishes.
  • Powdered seeds are often used to add flavor in curry pastes, soups, and stews.
  • Aside from using it with food, fenugreek powder are good to make healthy and energizing tea.
  • The plant itself can be consumed as a vegetable.

Healthy recipes

Consuming fenugreek does not have to be limited to what is stated above. Below are a couple of enjoyable and healthy recipes that include the fenugreek seed:

Indian Cauliflower with Ginger and Fenugreek

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • 1 medium-sized red onion (diced)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
  • 1 medium-sized cauliflower (chopped)
  • ½ cup frozen green peas (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon of turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon of red chili powder
  • 2 tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon of dried fenugreek
  • 2 tablespoons of grass-fed yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon of raw honey
  • Cilantro (to garnish)
  • Salt (to taste)

Instructions:
Heat oil over medium heat for about one minute before adding the mustard seeds. Continue to heat them until they begin to crackle.

In the same pan, add the onion and ginger and saute for three to four minutes before adding in the cauliflower. Cover this pan and cook for three minutes.

Add in the green peas, stir, then add the turmeric, chili powder, and salt. Continue stirring until it is well-combined.

Mix in the tomatoes then cover and cook for another five minutes. After five minutes, stir well.

Throw in the dried fenugreek, yogurt and honey. Cover and cook for five more minutes until the vegetables turn nice and soft.

Put everything on a nice dish, garnish with cilantro, and enjoy!

Fenugreek Leaves Chutney
This is a sweet, sour and spicy chutney made with fenugreek leaves. It is best served with roti, paratha, dosa, pesarattu, plain rice, and ghee.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups of fenugreek leaves
  • 1 to 1 ½ tablespoon of oil (add as needed)
  • 5 to 8 red byadgi or kashmiri chilies (adjust to suit taste)
  • 1 medium onion (cubed)
  • 4 to 6 medium garlic cloves
  • ¾ teaspoon of cumin
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon of salt (adjust to suit taste)
  • 1 teaspoon of tamarind or tamarind pulp (adjust to suit taste)
  • 1 to ½ tablespoon of jaggery (adjust to taste)

Instructions:
Pluck leaves and spray with vinegar. Let it rest for five minutes.

Add the leaves in a large pot of water and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse the leaves until they are clean and drain completely using a colander.

Heat a pan with oil, then add red chilies over a low flame. Fry until it is crisp then place them on a clean plate.

On the same pan, add onions and fry until they turn light gold. Add the garlic and cumin and fry for 30 seconds. Remove this, then add to the plate.

Pour another spoon of oil onto the pan and add the leaves. Fry these over a medium to high flame until they wilt off completely and have no moisture.

Cool all the ingredients.

Once everything is cooled, blend the chilies to a fine powder. Afterward, add the rest of the ingredients including the tamarind, salt, jaggery, onions, garlic, cumin, and methi leaves.

Blend everything well until coarse.

The taste must be sweet, sour, pungent and hot. If needed, add more salt, jaggery or tamarind.

Conclusion

Fenugreek is a plant and herb that can be used in many ways for multiple purposes concerning health. Because of its impressive benefits, it has grown to be a popular alternative to treat some medical issues. However, further research must take place so that its effects may be confirmed and better understood.

Aside from it being a supplement, it is a great addition to a collection of spices to create more flavourful dishes. It is still highly beneficial to an individual’s health even if it is consumed as food, but if one must take it as a supplement, a proper consultation with a professional must take place.