Fenugreek (also known as Greek Hay and Fenigreek), is a herb that is commonly found growing in the Mediterranean region of the world. While the seeds and leaves are primarily used as a culinary spice, it is also used to treat a variety of health problems in Egypt, Greece, Italy, and South Asia.
Fenugreek seeds have been found to contain protein, vitamin C, niacin, potassium, and diosgenin (which is a compound that has properties similar to estrogen). Other active constituents in fenugreek are alkaloids, lysine, and L-tryptophan, as well as steroidal saponins (diosgenin, yamogenin, tigogenin, and neotigogenin).
What are the Benefits of Fenugreek?
Due to its estrogen-like properties, fenugreek has been found to help increase libido and lessen the effect of hot flashes and mood fluctuations that are common symptoms of menopause and PMS. In India and China, it has also been used to treat arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, improve digestion, maintain a healthy metabolism, increase libido and male potency, cure skin problems (wounds, rashes, and boils), treat a sore throat, and cure acid reflux. Fenugreek also has a long history of use for the treatment of reproductive disorders, to induce labor, to treat hormonal disorders, to help with breast enlargement, and to reduce menstrual pain. Recent studies have shown that Fenugreek helps lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels, and may be an effective treatment for both type 1 and 2 diabetes. It is also being studied for its cardiovascular benefits.
Uses of Fenugreek
Home Remedy for Balancing Cholesterol
Studies have found people who took 2 ounces (56g) of fenugreek seed each day had significantly (around 14 percent) lower cholesterol levels after 24 weeks, and had lowered their risk of heart attack by more than 25 percent. Therefore, a recommended remedy for lowering cholesterol is to take 2 ounces of seeds throughout the day. The seeds can be sprinkled onto prepared food, or they can be consumed with water if they are in capsule form.
Treating Diabetes and Lowering Blood Sugar Levels
Studies have shown that participants with type 2 diabetes had significantly lower blood sugar levels after eating fenugreek. Therefore, a recommended home remedy for treating Type 2 diabetes is to consume 500mg of fenugreek twice daily.
Herbal Cure for Skin Inflammation
Research has shown that Fenugreek is an effective topical treatment for skin problems such as abscesses, boils, burns, eczema, and gout. Therefore, a simple skin inflammation remedy is the following:
- Take a spoonful of fenugreek and grind it into a powder.
- Mix the ground powder with warm water.
- Take a simple piece of clean cloth and soak it in the mixture.
- Apply the soaked cloth directly onto the affected skin as a poultice.
Natural Cure for Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Fenugreek seeds contain a lot of mucilage, which helps sooth gastrointestinal inflammation by coating the lining of the stomach and intestine. Therefore, for an effective remedy against heartburn or Acid Reflux, simply sprinkle 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds onto your food. Another option is to take one teaspoon of seeds and swallow them with water or juice before any meal.
Home Remedy for Fever
The Fenugreek herb has been known to help reduce fever when taken with lemon and honey since it nourishes the body during an illness. Therefore, to treat a fever, simply consume one to two teaspoons of Fenugreek seeds three times a day along with an herbal tea (such as green tea) with a teaspoon of honey and lemon juice. Some health food stores also sell herbal Fenugreek teas, which can be used instead of green tea.
Fenugreek is often used in many teas and other products that help balance women’s hormones and/or enlarge the breasts. Therefore, a simple home remedy for breast enlargement is to make Fenugreek a part of your regular diet. A common suggestion is to consume up to 3g of Fenugreek per day.
Remedy to Ease Child Birth for Pregnant Women
Fenugreek stimulates uterine contractions and can be helpful to induce childbirth. However, pregnant women should only use this remedy for inducing labor after consulting with their doctor.
A remedy to Aid Milk Production in Lactating Women
Fenugreek has been known to increase milk production in lactating women. Research has even shown that milk production can increase by over 500 percent within 24 to 72 hours after consuming this herb. Although it is not known why this happens, researchers speculate that the oil contained in fenugreek seeds plays a role. Therefore, a recommended remedy to increase milk flow is to consume one capsule of fenugreek seed (at least 500mg) three times a day.
What are the Side Effects of Fenugreek?
While Fenugreek is generally considered to be safe when used moderately, there have been reports of a few minor side-effects. Nausea is one common side effect, while other people have reported gastrointestinal discomfort (diarrhea and/or gas). Also, when using this herb topically on the skin, it is important to watch out for skin irritations and rashes.
Fenugreek use during pregnancy is not recommended since it has the potential to induce labor. If you are pregnant and wish to take it, you should do so only after consultation with your doctor.
If you are currently taking any oral medications, you should always use this herb at least 2 hours before or after these drugs. This is important since Fenugreek fiber has the potential to interfere with the absorption of oral medications due to its mucilaginous fiber (which gives it a moist and sticky texture).
Where and How to Buy Fenugreek
Fenugreek is often available in capsules, seed, and powder form at many health food stores. The seeds can also often be found at Indian/Pakistani grocery stores. You may also be able to find packaged Fenugreek herbal tea bags.