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Due to its unique properties, fenugreek is a plant used in the kitchen, cosmetic industry and medicine. Fenugreek alleviates symptoms of stomach ulcers and reduces the level of blood sugar. In cosmetic industry it is famous for its anti-hair fall effect. In the kitchen it is used as an aromatic spice.Fenugreek seeds have a beneficial effect in the whole length of the alimentary tract:
peptic ulcers – because of presence of the polysaccharide fraction (one of fractions of the nutritional fibre) aqueous extracts and macerated fenugreek seeds are used as supportive therapy of peptic ulcers. In the stomach, polysaccharides cover the inflamed mucosa with a layer protecting from irritating agents, including the hydrochloric acid and pepsin. That leads to reduced oedema and congestion of the gastric mucosa, and speeds the healing process up;
Fenugreek seeds is a raw material used in medicine. Other parts of the plant are rarely used.
improved digestion – dried seeds or seed gruel support digestion in gastrointestinal problems including dyspepsia, flatulence, gastritis and hepatic diseases. Seeds increase secretion of gastric juice, pancreatic enzymes and saliva. For that reason, the product may be also used for restoration of appetite;
constipation – due to the high dietary fibre content, the product improves peristalsis of the gut and enhance the intestinal passage;
protection of the liver – fenugreek seeds have also a hepatoprotective effect, which means that they protect cells of the liver. Their effect is comparable to sylimarin – an antioxidative substance used commonly in hepatic diseases, exerting an anti-inflammatory effect and inhibiting the process of fibrosis and penetration of toxins into the liver;
parasites of the gastrointestinal tract – fenugreek seeds are used as a supplementary therapy of parasitic diseases of the gastrointestinal tract;
hemorrhoids – seeds may be used as a support therapy of haemorrhoids, because flavonoids contained in them seal blood vessels;
colonic carcinoma – diosgenin present in fenugreek seeds may have a protective effect against colorectal cancer, because the substance inhibits growth and stimulates apoptosis (death) of human colonic carcinoma cells HT-29;
Fenugreek seeds reduce the cholesterol level
Fenugreek seeds reduce levels of the total cholesterol, the “bad” LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and VLDL – very low density lipoprotein. The effect is due to steroid saponins that intensify the metabolism of cholesterol and its transformation into bile acids in the liver. They also stimulate elimination of bile acids. At the same time, saponins delay absorption of fatty compounds. That leads to reduced risk of atherosclerosis and associated cardiovascular conditions, including coronary heart disease. Anti-atherosclerotic properties are demonstrated also by niacin contained in seeds.
Fenugreek seeds reduce the blood sugar level
Fenugreek seeds contain 20-30% of mucous substances, composed mostly of galactomannans. When seeds are consumed in the form of gruel, those compounds delay emptying of the stomach and reduce the postprandial glucose level increase. They also inhibit activity of carbohydrate-decomposing enzymes and reduce urine glucose levels, thus preventing glucosuria. Fenugreek seeds demonstrate the ability of blood glucose level lowering also due to the content of 4-hydroxyisoleucine – an amino acid that increases insulin secretion by pancreatic inslets. Moreover, a combination of polyphenols contained in fenugreek seeds, increase tissue susceptibility to insulin.
Fenugreek has an antibacterial and antifungal effect
It was demonstrated as well, that fenugreek extracts have an antibiotic effect. They are able to combat bacteria, including Streptococcus aureus, E. coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella and Trichomonas vaginalis.
Aqueous extracts of fenugreek roots, seeds and shoots have antifungal effect against pathological microorganisms.
Fenugreek – other therapeutic properties
Fenugreek seeds are used as an expectorating agent in diseases of the upper respiratory tract. Scientific research indicate also that fenugreek seeds may have an anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic effect. Moreover, they may prevent and support therapy of neurodegenerative disorders, Alzheimer disease in particular. In Asia, fenugreek seeds are used as an agent increasing milk supply in lactating women.
Fenugreek in body building
Fenugreek has been also used in body building, as it reduces the amount of the adipose tissue and increases the testosterone level.
Fenugreek for furuncles, abscesses and bruises
Cataplasms, or hot compresses of fenugreek seeds, are used in therapy of topical inflammation of the skin and the subcutaneous tissue, among others of furuncles, abscesses and ulcers. They have also a softening and soothing effect on inflammations and reduce oedemas. For that reason they are also used in treatment of minor injuries, contusions and bruises.
Nutritional information (per 100 g)
Energy – 323 kcal
Total protein – 23 g
Fat – 6.41 g
Carbohydrates – 58.35 g
Dietary fibre – 24.6 g
Vitamin C – 3 mg
Thiamine – 0.322 mg
Riboflavin – 0.366 mg
Niacin – 1.640 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.600 mg
Folic acid – 57 µg
Vitamin A – 60 IU
Calcium – 176 mg
Iron – 33.53 mg
Magnesium – 191 mg
Phosphorus – 296 mg
Potassium – 770 mg
Sodium – 67 mg
Zinc – 2.50 mg
Fenugreek compress – how to do it?
Pour 1 glass of lukewarm water over 1 tablespoonful of ground seeds and mix thoroughly. Put on heat to bring to boiling, reduce the heat and boil under cover for 3 minutes. Wait to cool down. Use the warm decoction externally, in form of compresses, on furuncles, ulcers and skin inflammation sites. Apply 2-3 times a day.
Fenugreek – the use in cosmetic industry
In cosmetic industry, fenugreek is used for skincare of seborrheous and acne complexion. However, the herb is mostly famous because of its hair strengthening properties. A rub made of fenugreek seed infusion prevents hair falling and stimulates growth of new hair, including the, so called, baby hair. The herb also soothes scalp irritations.
A rub of fenugreek for hair falling – a recipe
Take 3 tablespoonfuls of ground seeds, pour 150 ml of water, boil and leave for a half of an hour until cools down. Rub the resulting product in your hair, and then wrap it with the food wrap, for three hours. After that time, wash your hair. Repeat the procedure every 7 days (or more frequently) to observe a reduced number of falling hair in just a month. Unused rub may be stored in a fridge for not more than one week.
The rub is preferred on weekend, as it has a very intense scent (of chicken soup or roasted chicken) that lingers for some time. It is worth noting that fresh rub has a less intense smell compared to a rub that has been stored in a fridge for some time.
Fenugreek is a highly appreciated ingredient in vegetarian cuisine, as gives meals prepared from tofu an extraordinary aroma. Roasted and ground fenugreek may be used for baked potatoes, cooked carrot, beans, celery, broccoli or cauliflower chops, as well as for egg dishes and vegetable soups. Roasted and ground or pounded fenugreek is a perfect spice for cheese casserole – the dish will have an original taste and aroma.
Infusion: Pour 2 glasses of hot water or milk to 2 tablespoonfuls of seeds; wait for 20 minutes and filter. Drink 150 ml 4 times a day; infants -8-10 ml, 3-4 times a day; children 10-24 months old – 32 ml, 3-5 year old – 38 ml, 6-8 year old – 42 ml, 9-12 year old – 64 ml, 13-15 year old – 85 ml, 3-4 times a day. The infusion may be sweetened with honey.
Decoction (of higher value compared to infusion): Pour 2 glasses of water over 2 tablespoonfuls of seeds; boil for 3 minutes; wait 20 minutes to cool down; filter. Drinkink instructions are the same as for infusion, above.
Repeated external application may lead to adverse skin reactions. If any adverse reactions occur, you should tell your doctor about them.
Fenugreek may influence the effect of drugs
Fenugreek may influence the effect of antithrombotic drugs, similarly to other herbs and spices, including sage, camomile, anise, arnica, dandelion, chestnut, St John’s wort, papaya extract, ginseng, Ginkgo biloba.
During pregnancy and breastfeeding, consult the use of the drug with your doctor.