Geographical distribution

An aromatic annual   herbaceous plant to ½ m tall, native of India, NE Africa to central Asia and now cultivated in the Mediterranean, N Africa, Southern Russia, China, Southern U.S.A. and in others. This species has been cultivated and used in food all over India. Both as a spice and a medicinal herb, fenugreek has a long and respected history, dating back to the ancient Indian, Egyptians and Greeks.

Historical or Traditional Use:

A wide range of uses were found for fenugreek in ancient times. Medicinally it was used for the treatment of wounds, abscesses, arthritis, bronchitis, and digestive problems. Traditional Chinese herbalists used it for kidney problems and conditions affecting the male reproductive tract. Fenugreek was and remains a food and a spice commonly eaten in many parts of the world.
Plant Facts: This annual herb with clover like leaves belongs to the family Leguminosae. It grows to a height of 20-24 inches. While the plant has a strong, sweetish spicy aroma, the seeds taste slightly salty and when chewed have a mildly bitter taste.
Parts Used: Seeds
The seeds of fenugreek contain the most potent medicinal properties of the plant.

CHEMICAL CONSTITUENTS

Fenugreek seeds are a rich source of the polysaccharide galactomannan.
They are also a source of saponins such as diosgenin, yamogenin, gitogenin, tigogenin, and neotigogens.
Other bioactive constituents of fenugreek include mucilage, volatile oils, and alkaloids such as choline and trigonelline.
The steroidal saponin accounts for many of the beneficial effects of fenugreek, particularly in inhibition of cholesterol absorption and synthesis. The seeds are rich in dietary fibres, which may be the main reason it can lower blood sugar levels in diabetes.

CHEMICAL STRUCTURES
CHEMICAL STRUCTURES
HOW MUCH SHOULD I TAKE?

Due to the somewhat bitter taste of fenugreek seeds, devitalized seeds or encapsulated products are preferred. The typical range of intake is 5-30 grams with each meal or 15-90 grams all at once with a meal. As a tincture, 102ml of fenugreek can be taken up to three times per day.

THERAPEUTIC USES

As a galactogouge

Fenugreek seeds contain hormone precursors that increase milk supply.  Scientists do not know for sure how this happens. Once an adequate level of milk production is reached, most women can discontinue the fenugreek and maintain the milk supply with adequate breast stimulation.Many women today take fenugreek in a pill form (ground seeds placed in capsule).

As an hypoglycemic agent

Fenugreek may also increase the number of insulin receptors in red blood cells and improve glucose utilization in peripheral tissues, thus demonstrating potential anti-diabetes effects both in the pancreas and other sites. The amino acid 4-hydroxyisoleucine, contained in the seeds, may also directly stimulate insulin secretion. Fenugreek seed has remarkable power to reduce blood sugar level hence used in diabetes. Fenugreek seeds contain alkaloids, including trigonelline, gentianine and carpaine compounds. The seeds also contain fiber, 4-hydroxyisoleucine and fenugreekine, a component that may have hypoglycemic activity. The mechanism is thought to delay gastric emptying, slow carbohydrate absorption and inhibit glucose transport.

Hypolipidemic effects

FG seeds responsible for hypocholesterolaemic effect. Steroid saponin
and sapogenin might have a role in lowering cholesterol. Regular use of ethanolic extract of FG seeds corrects the lipid profile in patients.

Diarrhoea: Half a teaspoon of seeds with water taken thrice a day is an effective remedy for diarrhea.

Anaemia: The seeds have high iron content and helps alleviate anemia. They should be consumed in the same manner as for flatulence.

Stomach disorders: Some disorders, like peptic ulcers, are also soothed by the consumption of fenugreek seeds.

Respiratory infections: During the early acute stages of respiratory tract infections like bronchitis, influenza, sinusitis, catarrh, and suspected pneumonia, fenugreek tea will help the body to perspire, dispel toxicity and shorten the period of fever.

Sore throat: A strong gargle made by boiling 2 tablespoons of seeds with one liter of water for an hour, letting it cool a little and then using it to gargle is effective for easing a sore throat

Aphrodisiac/Sexual weakness: Fenugreek is also considered a tonic for the reproductive system. Steroidal saponins contents in the seeds account for the bitter taste; they are also thought to chemically resemble human sex hormones, which may be why fenugreek was once considered an aphrodisiac and why it is still used to stimulate the uterus and milk flow.

Menstrual and menopausal disorders: Fenugreek contains chemicals similar to estrogen and helps to minimize the symptoms of menopause.

Pregnancy and lactation: The seeds made into gruel and given to lactating mothers increase the flow of breast.


Therapeutic uses in Ayurveda

Grahani(G.I.disorders ,I.B.S),
Jvara(Fever)
Prameha(Genitourinary disorders )
Aruci(Anorexia)

SIDE EFFECTS:
Stomach upset may occur when a large quantity of fenugreek has been used. If this effect persists or worsens, contact your doctor promptly.  It may cause hypoglycemia when it is taken along other oral hypoglycemic drugs. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.  Fenugreek seeds will stimulate the uterus, so do not use during pregnancy.

Description: Written by Dr. Kumar Pati .
Dr.Pati is a trained medical doctor in Western medicine as well as Ayurvedic Medicine of   India. He has degree from one of the best Ayurvedic College and hospital, The J.B.Ray State Ayurvedic medical College in Calcutta, India. He is the former publisher of Health World magazine. He has written several books on herbs, nutrition and vitamins. He is the Author of one of the best sellers entitled “Vitamins & Herbal Digest” Presently he is the president and Chief Executive of Best Nutrition Products, USA.