Fenugreek is a plant that has long been used as herbal remedy for varied health conditions. Traditionally growing wildly in arid and semi-arid areas, Fenugreek is presently commercially cultivated in many countries of the world. It is very common in Bangladesh, Argentina, Egypt, Pakistan, France, Turkey, Morocco, China and India amongst other countries. India happens to be the leading producer of Fenugreek in the world with Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh being the main production areas. Fenugreek is cultivated for its leaves and seeds, which have been established to contain valuable medicinal properties. The seeds are yellowish and mainly used in preparing pickles and curry powders, making very good spice. The leaves, small in size, are harvested and dried. The leaves have a strong smell with a bitter taste.
From research studies conducted, Fenugreek has been established to contain varied beneficial elements including polysaccharides, diosgenin, yamogenin, tigogenin, gitogenin, mucilage, essential oils, alkaloids, choline and trigonelline amongst other substances. Apart from being used in cuisine of different countries, Fenugreek seeds are widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. Fenugreek is used in the treatment of varied ailments. Some of its health benefits include:
- Management of diabetes mellitus – Clinical trials conducted on fenugreek seeds in the management of both Type 1 and 2 diabetes returned positive results. Diabetic patients participating in the study were given regulated doses of Fenugreek seed powder for ten days. They showed drastic reduction in blood sugar levels. In addition, they developed tolerance to glucose.
- Reducing high cholesterol levels – Fenugreek seed powder is very effective in reducing both high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, in effect preventing the occurrence of heart and arterial disease.
- Sexual health – Using either Fenugreek leaves or seed powder improves one’s sexual health. In particular, Fenugreek seeds (powder) are very rich in diosgenin, a substance that produces the same effect as estrogen hormone produced in human female ovaries. Using Fenugreek seeds powder during menopause is one effective way of managing troublesome menopause symptoms such as vaginal dryness and reduced libido.
- Indigestion – Fenugreek seeds powder contain mucilage, which has a calming and soothing effect on the digestive system. Mucilage forms a protective coat on stomach and intestinal walls, in effect preventing gastric inflammation and heartburn.
- Inflammation on skin – Fenugreek powder is very effective in preventing skin inflammation caused by boils, eczema, gout and burns. In this case, the seeds powder is applied topically on affected areas of the skin.
- Reducing pain – Using Fenugreek reduces body pain cause by varied health conditions and diseases. In addition, Fenugreek has been established to reduce pain experienced by women during childbirth. This is because Fenugreek stimulates uterine contractions, in effect speeding up childbirth. Fenugreek is also very effective in increasing the production of breast milk in lactating women.
- Immune system – Using either Fenugreek seeds powder or leaves boosts the body’s immune system. This prevents the occurrence of common ailments such as colds and flu. The same is also thought to be effective in preventing and fighting cancer.
- Fiber – Fenugreek provides the body with necessary fiber, which prevents constipation. Such has also been established to prevent the occurrence of cardiovascular disease.
Pure Fenugreek leaves or seeds powder can be very bitter. In addition, using the same directly can produce side effects. It is always important to mix the same with other substances such as lemon juice, honey, added to food or mixed with other herbs. Pregnant women may not use any Fenugreek because it has the effect of stimulating the uterus.