Kingdom : Plantae
(unranked) : Angiosperms
(unranked) : Eudicots
(unranked) : Rosids
Order : Fabales
Family : Fabaceae
Genus : Trigonella
Species : T. foenum-graecum
Binomial name : Trigonella foenum-graecum
Fenugreek ( Trigonella foenum-graecum) is a plant in the family Fabaceae. Fenugreek is used both as a herb (the leaves) and as a spice (the seed, often called methi in Urdu/Hindi/Nepali). The leaves and sprouts
are also eaten as vegetables.Fenugreek is native to the Mediterranean countries and Asia and is undoubtedly one of the oldest cultivated medicinal plants. The plant is cultivated worldwide as a semi-arid crop and is a common ingredient in many curries.
Other Common Names:
Greek hay, Greek hay seed, bird's foot, fenigreek, Greek clover, methi, foenugreek and hu lu ba.
Fenugreek is an annual herb with trifoliate leaves and it can grow to be about two feet tall. It blooms white flowers tinged with violet in the early summer. The flowers develop into long brown pods which contain the fenugreek seeds. The seeds give away strong special aroma.
The name fenugreek or foenum-graecum is from Latin for "Greek hay". The plant's similarity to wild clover has likely spawned its Swedish name: "bockhornsklöver" as well as the German: "Bockshornklee", both literally meaning: "ram's horn clover".
It is not yet certain which wild strain of the genus Trigonella gave rise to the domesticated fenugreek but believe it was brought into cultivation in the Near East. Charred fenugreek seeds
have been recovered from Tell Halal, Iraq, (radiocarbon dating to 4000 BC) and Bronze Age levels of Lachish, as well as desiccated seeds from the tomb of Tutankhamen. Cato the Elder lists fenugreek with clover and vetch as crops grown to feed cattle .
Major fenugreek producing countries are Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Argentina, Egypt, France, Spain, Turkey, Morocco and China. India is the largest producer of fenugreek in the world where Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana and Punjab are the major
fenugreek producing states. Rajasthan produces the lion's share of India's production, accounting for over 80% of the nation's total fenugreek output. Qasuri Methi, more popular for its appetizing fragrance, comes from Qasur, Pakistan, and regions irrigated by the Sutlej River, in the Indian and Pakistani states of Punjab.
The cuboid yellow to amber coloured fenugreek seeds are frequently used in the preparation of pickles, curry powders, and curry paste, and the spice is often encountered in the cuisine of the Indian subcontinent. The dried leaves – also called kasuri methi (or kasoori methi in India and Pakistan), after the region of Kasur in Punjab, Pakistan province, where it grows abundantly – have a bitter taste and a characteristically strong smell. When harvested as microgreens, it also known as Samudra Methi, in Maharashtra, especially in and around Mumbai, Menthium or Venthayam in Tamil, where it is often grown near the sea in the sandy tracts, hence the name (Samudra means "ocean" in Sanskrit).
Fenugreek is used in Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine. The word for fenugreek in Amharic is abesh (or abish), and the seed is used in Ethiopia as a natural herbal medicine in the treatment of diabetes.
Yemenite Jews, following interpetaion of Rabbi Salomon Isaacides, Rashi of Talmūd , believe Fenugreek, which they call Helba is the Talmudic Rubia . They use Fenugreek to produce Hilba, a foamy sauce reminiscent of curry, consumed daily but ceremoniously during the meal of the first and/or second night of Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year).
Fenugreek seeds are thought to be a galactagogue that is often used to increase milk supply in lactating women.
Arthritis has a low incidence rate in India where a lot of fenugreek is consumed. Drinking 1 cup of fenugreek tea per day, made from the leaves, is said to relieve the discomfort of arthritis.
A June 2011 study at the Australian Centre for Integrative Clinical and Molecular Medicine found that men aged 25 to 52 who took a fenugreek extract twice daily for six weeks scored 25% higher on tests gauging libido levels than those who took a placebo.
Fenugreek Therapeutic Uses, Benefits and Claims
Recent scientific research has found that fenugreek can help reduce cholesterol in the blood.
It is used to treat diabetes in adults.
It can be helpful as a herbal remedy to minimize the symptoms of menopause and it is thought to be helpful for painful PMS.
Fenugreek has been used for loss of appetite and anorexia. It can improve digestion, treat halitosis and relieve diarrhea and minor stomach aches.
The Herb Fenugreek
(Trigonella foenum-graecum )
It has a reputation for enlarging breast tissue and is widely used in natural breast enhancement products. Fenugreek seeds contain compounds like diosgenin and other plant phyto-estrogens which are thought to promote breast growth in women. However there is no scientific proof that can confirm that fenugreek can enlarge breast tissue and more studies are needed.
Fenugreek seeds contain hormone precursors that can increase milk production in nursing mothers and it is widely used for insufficient lactation.
Because of the high mucilage content found in the fenugreek seeds it is considered a useful herb for diarrhea. The seeds husks absorb water resulting in bulkier stool.
It has been used through the ages to increase sexual desire both in men and women and has been used for premature ejaculation.
The seeds of fenugreek contain choline which may be helpful for memory loss and to slow down the aging process.
Is has been used to treat bronchitis and asthma. It is also considered a good herbal remedy for sore throat and coughs.
It has been used as an herb to promote hair growth both in women and men.
Fenugreek has been used for skin irritation, such as ulcers, boils, eczema, dandruff and cellulite.
Potential Side Effects of Fenugreek Seeds
Fenugreek seeds have been known to cause allergic reaction. It is not very common but if you experience allergic reaction such as swelling of the face, lips or tongue then seek medical attention. Fenugreek can change both color and smell of urine but is not harmful.
Pregnant women should not take fenugreek in any form. Because of the high fiber content of fenugreek, it should be used carefully with any kind of medication as it can affect the absorption of other drugs. It is always a good idea to consult health professional before start using any herbs.
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.
Fenugreek seeds are used as a medicinal in Traditional Chinese Medicine under the name Hu Lu Ba (Traditional Chinese: , Simplified Chinese: , Pinyin: hú lú bā), where they are considered to warm and tonify kidneys, disperse cold and alleviate pain. Main indications are hernia, pain in the groin. They are used raw or toasted. In India about 2-3g of raw fenugreek seeds (called Methi in India) are swallowed raw early in the morning with warm water, before brushing the teeth and before drinking tea or coffee, where they are supposed to have a therapeutic and healing effect on joint pains, without any side effects.
In Persian cuisine Fenugreek leaves are used and called (shambalile). In Arabic traditional medicine, it is known as (Helba or Hulba). Tea made from the seeds is used in the Near East to treat various kidney, heart, abdominal illnesses and Diabetes. Seeds are used by Bedouin women to strengthen pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Fenugreek is frequently used in the production of flavoring for artificial maple syrups. The taste of toasted fenugreek, like cumin, is additionally based on substituted pyrazines. By itself, fenugreek has a bitter taste.
Fenugreek seed is widely used as a galactagogue (milk producing agent) by nursing mothers to increase inadequate breast milk supply. Studies have shown that fenugreek is a potent stimulator of breast milk production and its use was associated with increases in milk production. It can be found in capsule form in many health food stores.
Several human intervention trials demonstrated that the antidiabetic effects of fenugreek seeds ameliorate most metabolic symptoms associated with type-1 and type-2 diabetes in both humans and relevant animal models by reducing serum glucose and improving glucose tolerance. Fenugreek is currently available commercially in encapsulated forms and is being prescribed as dietary supplements for the control of hypercholesterolemia and diabetes by practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine. Fenugreek contains high dietary fiber, so a few seeds taken with warm water before going to sleep helps avoiding constipation.
Fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt in 2009 and 2010 have been linked to outbreaks of Escherichia coli O104:H4 in Germany and France, causing 50 deaths in 2011.
If this spice had a less cumbersome name--say methi, its common commercial name (and what it's called in India)--it might be better known and more popular in the Western world; as it is, it's a rare curiosity, which is a shame.
Fenugreek is grown primarily (but more anon) for its seeds, which are lightly roasted before use in cooking. It is mainly an Indian spice, much used in curries, but its use extends to the eastern Mediterranean areas, where it turns up in Egyptian and Greek dishes. It is always used lightly roasted--roasting brings out its characteristic somewhat bitter taste, which is always an accent or background taste where this spice is called for, but over-roasting makes it too bitter. There is no doubt that if it were better known in the West, many and many a use for it could be found by inventive cooks, as numerous posts to the internet demonstrate. (A flavor resemblance sometimes mentioned with fenugreek is maple, as in maple syrup, which we have noted ourselves--it is even used to make imitation maple syrups.)
Fenugreek also has beneficial effects in reducing the effective glycemic index of other foods, and even in lowering cholesterol.
Fenugreek seeds are sown in boxes [planters] and grown to the two-leaf (cotyledon) stage like mustard and cress, it makes a five-star salad when dressed with oil and vinegar. The taste is refreshing, new and unusual.
It must prove something that there are numerous well-known cultivars of fenugreek in use in the extensive commercial trade, but no named varieties whatever (that we could find) in the home-garden seed catalogues; few enough carry even a generic "fenugreek".
Fenugreek likes warmth: its growth is slow and weak in cold temperatures or wet soils. Since it supposedly bolts to seed quickly and easily, we might as well plant it out when the weather has gotten good and warm.
The general rule for herb and spice plants is that their soil needs are not demanding, save that the soil must be very well-drained: few herb or spice plants can stand "wet feet". The soil should not be particularly rich, most especially not for flavoring plants we grow for their seed (or fruit), common mis-advice to the contrary notwithstanding: a rich soil will lower the concentration of the "aromatic oils" that give the seed its characteristic flavor, which is the very thing we are growing them for. Plants that are slightly nutrient-stressed (which doesn't mean starved) give better-tasting seed.
Curiously, fenugreek is a legume; it will thus enrich the soil where it is grown, but that also means it's wise to use inoculant (of the usual pean-and-bean sort) on it when seeding.
Plant seed where the plants are to grow; seed about 3/4" deep. Some sources recommend pre-soaking the seeds in warm water for half a day or so. Spacing is unclear, but apparently it is usually grown closely--at 2 to 4 inches apart.
The seeds--brownish, about 1/8 inch long, oblong, rhomboidal, with a deep furrow dividing them into two unequal lobes--are contained, 10 to 20 together, in long, narrow, sickle-like pods, which do not naturally shatter. Fenugreek plants may thus be left to dry down, then harvested. The seeds, like most spice seeds, need to be very well dried, but never with any sort of warm-air or forced drying, lest they lose some essential oils.
The seeds of fenugreek contain many active biological chemicals many it a potent medicinal and Organic Herbs Spices supplement. Fenugreek seeds are bitter in taste and has a strong and quite peculiar odor, hence, used in a very small quantity as a spice. The Powdered fenugreek seed has a beautiful golden yellow color due to its coloring agent called coumadine. That is why fenugreek seeds were used for a yellow dye by ancient Indians and Egyptians.
Fenugreek seed powder has been used for centuries as a spice to increase the taste of curries by the Indian and the Chinese. This Fenugreek seed powder was first introduced to the Arabs and the Europeans through Spice Trading. 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.
Process of Manufacturing of Fenugreek Powder :
To make fenugreek powder the fresh fenugreek seeds are collected, cleaned to remove the physical impurities, like adhered soil and dirt. Then it is dried and gounded to make into powdered form. Fenugreek powder is packed with aseptic measures for storage and transportation.
Active Constituents and Proposed Mechanism of Action :
The steroidal saponins account for many of the beneficial effects of fenugreek, particularly the inhibition of cholesterol absorption and synthesis.
The seeds are rich in dietary fiber, which may be the main reason they can lower blood sugar levels in diabetes.
Amino acides like 4-hydroxyisoleucine helps lower elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood.
Fenugreek seeds yields nicotinic acid alkaloid with roasting.
Fenugreek seeds contain a high percentage of mucilage in the coatings of seed which promotes evacuation of intestinal contents. Hence, fenugreek is a mild but effective laxative.
Uses of Fenugreek seed Powder :
Internal uses :
Fenugreek is used internally to stimulate appetite.
Tea made from Fenugreek seeds is equal in value to quinine in reducing fevers. Fenugreek used with lemon juice and honey also helps reduce fevers.
Fenugreek tea has a soothing effect on the inflamed stomach and intestines. It cleans the stomach, bowls and kidneys. It helps healing peptic ulcers by providing coating of mucilaginous matter.
Fenugreek has been used fairly extensively by lactation consultants to increase milk production in nursing mothers.
The ground seeds are used also to give a maple-flavouring to confectionery and nearly all cattle like the flavour of Fenugreek in their forage.
External uses :
It has also been used as external poultice to control inflammation.
The powder of seeds are utilized to an enormous extent in the manufactures of condition powders for horses and cattle.
Funugreek is the principal ingredient in most of the quack nostrums which find so much favour among grooms and horsekeepers. It has a powerful odour of coumarin and is largely used for flavouring cattle foods and to make damaged hay palatable.
Other Uses :
Fenugreek seeds are also used in candy, baked goods, ice cream, chewing gum and soft drinks. The seeds can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute.
Fenugreek leaves are dried and used as an insect repellent in grain storage.
Dose Recommendation :
A daily intake of 6 grams of fenugreek seed powder is recommendated commonly.
The typical range of intake for diabetes or cholesterol-lowering is 5–30 grams with each meal or 15–90 grams all at once with one meal.
Fenugreek as a forage for cattle
Fenugreek is an annual legume crop and could replace alfalfa in some rations.Fenugreek is first grown in the early 1990s as a specialty crop in western Canada for seed. It is adapted to dryland growing conditions in western Canada, particularly the southern parts. New forage-type fenugreek cultivars have recently been developed at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Research Station in Lethbridge, Alberta and at the University of Saskatchewan. Fenugreek is a suitable forage for lactating cows and the benefits it provides.
University of Alberta graduate student, Janet Montgomery initiated a study in 2006 to evaluate the growth potential and nutrient value of fenugreek grown in the Edmonton area for dairy cattle. “One of the reasons for cultivating fenugreek is that it is a suitable forage for dairy cattle. Fenugreek maintains a high quality protein profile throughout the growing season,” . “Similar to some pea varieties, fenugreek has indeterminate growth, which allows for greater flexibility of timing of harvest.” For example, growers can harvest their barley and triticale silage first, leaving fenugreek until later without reducing its quality.
Yields can be doubled under irrigation. Therefore, dairy producers would have to supplement less, reducing their costs.” As a legume, fenugreek also fixes nitrogen during crop production, reducing fertilizer input costs. Fenugreek is reported to have early season frost tolerance, so seeding early is an option.
In 2006, two fenugreek cultivars, CDC Quatro and AAFC F70, were grown at the Edmonton Research Station.
In 2007, three varieties of fenugreek were grown in field plots, AAFC F70, CDC Quatro and CDC Canagreen. Tristar is another forage cultivar of fenugreek . Tristar, which can be grown for hay or silage, produces high biomass yield and high quality forage, does not cause bloat and contains growth promoting substances such as diosgenin.
In an intercrop with cereal, the fenugreek grew much taller, as high as the cereal heads, and stems were thinner, which may increase quality.
For dairy producers, fenugreek may prove to be a suitable forage and cropping rotation option.