Also known as fenugreek, it is an annual plant belonging to the legume family (Fabaceae) and used in herbal medicine and phytotherapy for its numerous beneficial properties.
Its botanical name is Trigonella foenum-graecum L. and the plant, native to the eastern areas, is also cultivated in India and North Africa.
In this article, we will explore the properties, benefits and ways of using fenugreek, as well as any contraindications and side effects.
What is fenugreek
Fenugreek is an annual herb that grows up to fifty centimeters in height, developing alternate, petiolate and trifoliate leaves and pale flowers. The fenugreek fruit is a legume that contains about ten seeds.
The seeds of the plant are used in herbal medicine and phytotherapy, but also to obtain fenugreek oil and flour, also used in the cosmetic field, and fenugreek sprouts consumed for food.
nomenclature and habitat
The botanical name of fenugreek comes from the Greek "trigonos", which means triangle and refers to the arrangement of the leaves in threes and the shape of the seeds.
Widespread throughout the Mediterranean area, the fenugreek plant was once used to fatten livestock.
Parts used and chemical composition
The seeds of fenugreek are used in herbal medicine, considered the drug of the plant. Fenugreek seeds, rich in compounds beneficial to health, are characterized by an unpleasant odor given by the presence of volatile compounds.
The chemical composition of the seeds includes proteins, lipids, flavonoids, sterols, sapogenins, fibers, vitamin D, nicotinic acid or vitamin P, and calcium.
What is fenugreek used for?
Fenugreek is a remedy indicated above all as a tonic in convalescence, in case of asthenia and in excessive weight loss.
Fenugreek seeds are also used to reduce LDL cholesterol levels or "bad cholesterol" and to control blood sugar in diabetic people.
Treatments with fenugreek supplements can also be useful in case of fractures, osteoporosis and growth disorders.
Traditional uses
Traditionally, fenugreek has been used to facilitate childbirth, increase milk production in lactating women, improve liver function, treat stomach ulcers, and fight airway infections.
External uses
Externally, however, fenugreek is used to treat skin abscesses, pimples, eczema, rheumatic pain, inflammation of the mouth and throat, hemorrhoids and wounds.
Cosmetic uses
The cosmetic use of this remedy is quite limited due to the bad smell of the seeds; for this purpose you can use fenugreek oil,
obtained by pressing the seeds and often recommended as a tonic for its benefits of fenugreek for hair and to increase breasts, due to its toning action.
Properties of fenugreek
Fenugreek seeds have properties:
Appetite stimulants
Cholesterol lowering
The properties of fenugreek are given by the presence of proteins, lipids, flavonoids, sterols, sapogenins, fibers, vitamin D, nicotinic acid or vitamin P and calcium.
Benefits of fenugreek
The use of fenugreek can be useful during convalescence, to recover energy in case of asthenia and to increase muscle mass in case of excessive weight loss.
Fenugreek seeds are in fact excellent tonics and, also thanks to the aperitif action, can contribute to the increase in body weight.
Fractures and osteoporosis
Thanks to the vitamin D and calcium content, fenugreek can also bring benefits in case of fractures and osteoporosis, promoting bone mineralization.
Diabetes, cholesterol and triglycerides
Other benefits of fenugreek are given by the fibers and galactomannans contained in the seeds, which allow you to regulate the intestinal absorption of lipids, cholesterol and glucose,
making fenugreek a useful remedy for diabetes, high cholesterol and excess triglycerides.
How to use
Fenugreek can be taken in the form of herbal tea, fluid extract or mother tincture.
The mother tincture of fenugreek is administered one to three times a day by diluting 30 drops in water, while the extracts are taken according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Herbal tea
Fenugreek tea is prepared with a teaspoon of seeds in 200 milliliters of boiling water, to be drunk throughout the day.
To correct the taste of the fenugreek infusion it is possible to sweeten it with a teaspoon of honey.
External use
Fenugreek herbal tea can also be used externally, for skin rinses, compresses, gargles.
Contraindications of fenugreek
Fenugreek-based remedies are safe and well tolerated.
However, its use is not recommended in case of allergies or sensitivity to the plant and if you are taking antidiabetic drugs, in people suffering from hypothyroidism and in case of intestinal inflammation.
Since fenugreek could cause uterine contractions, its use is contraindicated in pregnancy.
Side effects of fenugreek
Although fenugreek is considered a safe drug, in high dosages or for prolonged use, fenugreek can inhibit the absorption of some vitamins and minerals,
cause gastrointestinal irritation and, for topical use, skin reactions.
Where to buy fenugreek
All fenugreek-based preparations are easily available in herbalist's shops, including online.
Once upon a time, fenugreek seeds were used as a substitute for coffee; for this purpose an infusion was prepared from the toasted seeds.
Fenugreek, thanks to its numerous beneficial properties, represents a valid ally for our health and well-being.
However, it is important to remember to always consult an expert before taking any natural remedy, to avoid possible contraindications or interactions with other medicines.