(BeWellBuzz) Fenugreek, or Trigonella foenum-graecum to be biologically correct, is a very useful and widely grown herb. Most users of fenugreek do not have a complete idea about its health benefits. Fenugreek is an annual herb with yellow flowers, hard brown, red, and yellow seeds. The seeds which are used as spices in Indian cooking are responsible for most of its medicinal benefits. Fenugreek is easy to grow and is cultivated in many countries especially in South Asia.
Cultivation and use:
Fenugreek is originally a native of the Mediterranean region. Commercially it is cultivated in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Argentina, Egypt, France, Spain, Turkey, Morocco, and China. In the Indian subcontinent the seeds are used for preparation of curry powders and pickles. The shoot is eaten as a vegetable. Besides its use as food and in food preparation fenugreek has numerous medicinal properties. These medicinal properties are documented in both ancient and modern systems of medicines.
The list of chemical ingredients of fenugreek reads more like the composition list of a commercial medication. Protein, Vitamin C, Niacin, and potassium are the main nutrients. It is rich in antioxidants which neutralize body damaging free radicals. It contains a compound called Diosgenin which has properties similar to Estrogen. The other active ingredients are alkaloids, lysine, L-tryptophan, Yamogenin, Tigogenin, and Neotigogenin. Now let us take a look at the health benefits provided by these compounds.
The Estrogen like ingredient makes it useful in many areas of reproductive health of women. Fenugreek is known to help increase libido, reduce the effect of mood fluctuations and other symptoms associated with menopause and PMS. It is beneficial in breast enlargement, induces labor, and reduces menstrual pain. It also has a positive effect on male libido and potency.
It is shown to help people with arthritis, breathing difficulties like asthma and bronchitis, digestion difficulties, gastric reflux, skin problems, sore throat, diabetes, and high cholesterol levels. Its benefit in individuals suffering from cardiovascular diseases is being studied. Even though fenugreek has many benefits, it should not be taken during pregnancy because of its labor inducing property.
Fenugreek can be taken with food, or processed capsules and supplements are widely available. People suffering from any of the conditions where it helps should not decide to increase consumption of fenugreek or take supplements containing fenugreek without consulting their doctor. With that caveat, let’s look at a few home remedies:
Taking 2 ounces of fenugreek seeds a day has shown to reduce cholesterol levels by around 14 percent after 24 weeks. The seeds can be sprinkled on food or taken with water if in capsule form.
Diabetes and blood sugar levels:
Taking 500 mg of fenugreek twice a day has shown to reduce blood sugar levels of people suffering from type-2 diabetes.
Skin inflammation and eruptions can be treated by applying fenugreek powder. Grind fenugreek into powder and mix it with warm water. Soak the mixture with a clean cloth and apply straight to the affected area of the skin.
Stomach and digestion problems:
Fenugreek has the ability to coat the lining of the digestive tract. Thus it is effective in soothing heartburn and acid reflux. Just sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the seeds onto your food, or just swallow the seeds with water before a meal.
Fenugreek taken in combination with lemon and honey has an antipyretic effect. Consume one or two teaspoonfuls of the seeds with honey and lemon juice along with green tea. Fenugreek tea is sometimes available in stores and you can use that instead of green tea.
For this benefit, consume 3 grams of fenugreek as part of your regular diet.
Studies show a fivefold increase in milk production within one to three days of consumption of fenugreek. A 500 mg capsule of fenugreek is what is normally prescribed by doctors to increase milk production.
Side effects of fenugreek:
- Fenugreek is known to induce uterine contractions and hence should never be taken by pregnant woman or those who are trying to conceive even in small quantities without consulting their doctor.
- Due to its fiber content and its ability to coat the digestive tract and hinder absorption, you should not take fenugreek two hours before or after taking other oral medications. For the same reason people who have anemia should avoid it as it can interfere with absorption of iron from food.
- People who have thyroid hormone imbalance should not take it as it is known to alter the balances of these hormones.
- High dosages can cause an upset stomach and could result in an odor in the urine and sweat which is similar to that of maple syrup.
If taken with moderation, fenugreek is definitely a very healthy component of your food and will give you many health benefits. An understanding of its health benefits and effects can help you find a natural solution to a number of health problems. Maybe it is time for you to notice and reap the fenugreek benefits.