Fenugreek is one impressive spice and a herb - used for centuries for it's many medicinal benefits. Find out how it can help you achieve great health.
If there is one spice you should add to your kitchen cabinet, let it be fenugreek. Fenugreek is one of the most respected spices, or you can say, a herb, that is used a lot in Ayurveda. Let's visit some history of fenugreek before we dive deep into its many health benefits.
History of Fenugreek -
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) has been used for centuries in Indian cuisine and also as part of traditional medicine. Ayurvedic remedies use fenugreek for help with many ailments - both in men and women, and due to its many health benefits, it is considered no less a divine spice than turmeric.
Both the seeds and leaves of fenugreek have been used in Indian cuisine since ancient times. Fenugreek belongs to the pea family. Grown in the Near East since ancient times, it has been used by many parts of the world. In the first century A.D., Romans added fenugreek to vine to give it flavor. In Galilee (a region between Northern Israel and southern Lebanon), it was grown as a regular staple food item. Fenugreek is also used in Middle-East, Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Greece (in the famous dish pastourma as part of the spice rub), Yemen (fenugreek seed relish called hilbeh), Iran, Turkey (in a paste recipe called cemen), Egypt (seeds used in coffee drinks), Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Fenugreek is native to Asia, Southern Europe and Mediterranean region.
Nutrients in Fenugreek -
Fenugreek contains nicotinic acid, choline, inositol, B vitamins, iron, both soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamin D, C, K and A, folic acid, biotin.
What are the benefits of Fenugreek?
Fenugreek Helps in Increasing Milk Supply in New Moms - Fenugreek is helpful for new moms as it increases breast milk supply. This is due to the fact that fenugreek is an estrogenic herb, and is rich in phytoestrogens, especially diosgenin. Taking a fenugreek supplement specifically designed for new moms or taking fenugreek as a herbal tea can help with this. Grinding some fresh fenugreek seeds into a powder, and taking this everyday will help new moms increase their breast milk supply.
Fenugreek for Helping Diabetics - In India, fenugreek is taken daily with meals by those who have diabetes. Fenugreek improves the insulin function thus helping balance blood sugar in the body. It slows down the sugar absorption in the stomach while boosting insulin so taking it with meals is a great way to balance your blood sugar levels. This action of fenugreek is due to 4HO-lle, an amino acid. This was even confirmed by Iiranian researchers of QoM University of Medical Science. It also reduces lipid binding protein. Because it is high in soluble fiber, it is an excellent addition to your diet if you are worried about your sugar,
Fenugreek Helps in Boosting Testosterone Levels in Men - Fenugreek is known to help men with boosting libido by boosting their testosterone levels. Just about 500 mg per day is enough for men to see these results. Fenugreek is also known to boost sperm quality in men. Fenugreek will also help men with boosting their libido, arousal and stamina. As much as this divine spice is great for women reproducive health, it is equally great for male sexual health too.
Fenugreek for Skin & Hair - Fenugreek can be used topically for easing the discomfort associated with eczema or other skin disorders simply by applying it's paste onto the skin. It is also used to beautify the skin and give it a glowy complexion. Simply add some fenugreek seed powder and mix with water or lemon juice and apply for a few minutes on your face.
Another way fenugreek is used in India is for hair care - it inhibits DHT (dihydrotestosterone) from attaching to hair follicles, thus preventing hair loss. It also stimulates blood circulation in the scalp so applying some oil that has been infused with fenugreek seeds will help you a lot if you are suffering from hair loss.
Fenugreek for Weight Loss - Fenugreek may help curb appetite and help you lose that extra weight. Fenugreek is taken to help maintain healthy weight all over India - just consistently adding it to the recipes will help you with such results. Galactomannan, a water soluble heteropolysaccharide, helps weight loss by reducing fat in the body.
Fenugreek for Digestion - Fenugreek is taken daily in India by those who have digestive issues like IBS, acidity, constipation, bloating, gas and such. In Ayurveda, it is used to enhance digestion, prevent inflammation, stomach disorders, gas and any digestive discomfort. This is because fenugreek is a bitter spice - chewing fenugreek seeds will help in stimulating digestive juices, and igniting the digestive fire. This is because it is high in saponins and acts as a demulcent, thus protecting the gastic walls.
Fenugreek for Lowering Cholesterol - Fenugreek helps in reducing low density lipo protein (LDL - bad cholesterol). This is due to fenugreek's steroidal saponins that slow down the absorption of cholesterol and triglycerides in the gut, while also slowing the cholesterol production in the liver.
Fenugeek for Women's Health - Fenugeek can help during periods as it helps to reduce the vata obstruction in the pelvis. This is due to the fact that fenugreek is rich in phytoestrogens - plant compounds with estrogenic properties. For the same reasons, it can help with hot flashes, menstrul cramps, uterine disorders, vaginal lubrication, libido, etc.
Besides these, fenugreek is also beneficial for these conditions -
Arthritis, high blood pressure, gall stones, obesity, inflammation, muscle pain, ulcers, childbirth pains, migraines, headaches, boils, open wounds, breathing problems, improving metabolism and overall health.
What is the best way to take Fenugreek?
In India, fenugreek seeds are soaked overnight and then this water is taken in the morning. However, the best way to add fenugreek to your diet is to add it to your recipes. Fenugreek seeds are bitter so just 3-4 seeds are enough for a pot of recipe. Dried fenugreek leaves called as kasuri methi in Hindi are used to enhance the flavor of Indian lentils, curries, beans and even some veggies. Hop onto the Recipes page after you finish reading this article and check out some recipes where I have used fenugreek in lentils and curries.
Fenugreek Ayurvedic Qualitites -
Taste - Bitter, Sweet, Dry & Pungent
Potency - Warming (Hot Spice)
Doshas - Pacifies Kappa & Vata, Increases Pitta
Main Target - Lower half of the body (kidneys, pelvis, reproductive organs, lower back, legs, sexual organs)
Hormone Activitiy - Estrogenic
Some Fenugreek Native Remedies -
For Hair - This is how fenugreek is used in India for hair loss. This remedy will help you strengthen your hair follicles, inhibit DHT production and add shine to your hair. It will really soften and condition your hair naturally with NO side effects due to the absence of chemicals, colors, preservatives, etc. and help in making them more manageable and thus prevening breakage even further.
Hair Mask Remedy Recipe -
1. Take fenugreek seeds, soak them overnight in water. In morning, you will notice they have softened and have become slimy like. This property of fenugreek is why it is a great conditioner. Now, blend this seeds with water and apply this paste on your hair and scalp. Leave it for good 30 to 45 minutes, and then wash it off.
This remedy applies to both men and women as fenugreek can help with hair loss related to too much DHT - a problem far too common these days in both men and women.
Hair Oil w/Fenugreek Seeds Remedy Recipe -
1. Mustard Oil - 1 cup
2. Fenugreek seeds - 1 to 2 Tablespoons
3. Garlic - 1 whole finely chopped
4. Onion - 1 whole medium onion chopped
1. Take fenugreek seeds and add to the mustard oil on low heat. You can even throw some garlic or onions to make this oil more nutrient dense for hair. Now, let all this 'fry' till onion and garlic turn brown and fenugreek seeds are well cooked.
2. Cover this oil (leave it in the iron wok overnight) and let it infuse. You can use this oil from next day. It is best to let it infuse for some more days in the sunlight - along with the seeds, garlic and onion, but otherwise, you can strain it and store in airtight glass jar. It should be good for a long time - 2 months minimum as far as you keep it in a cool place.
Fenugreek For Weight Loss, Bloating & Water Retention Issues -
1. Soak fenugreek seeds overnight in water. Now, in the morning, take this water on an empty stomach. Don't throw the seeds - chew them to further enhance your digestion and at the same time, they will also help with weight loss.
Fenugreek for Fever, Sore Throat, Cough & Cold -
Remedy Recipe -
1. Fenugreek Seeds - 3-4
2. Ginger (fresh or dried) - About 1 inch
3. Raw honey (plz. support ONLY ethical honey farms and companies - bees are declining in populations)
4. Black pepper - 1/2 Teaspoon
5. Warm water - 1 or 2 cups
Fenugreek For Breast Feeding (as Lactation Aid) -
Remedy Recipe -
1. Grind some fresh fenugreek seeds and make them into a fine powder. You can now take this powder daily with water or mix with some juice (to mask the taste) and drink it. Alternatively, you can also soak the seeds overnight and then take them in the morning.
Fenugreek for Skin -
Remedy Recipe -
1. Take some fenugreek seeds powder and mix with some lemon juice, or alove vera gel and apply to your face daily. You will soon see even skin tone, glowing skin and thick, supple skin on your face.
Recipes with Fenugreek -
1. Tadka w/Fenugreek
2. Kali Masoor Dal w/Fenugreek
3. Quick Kidney Beans Curry
4. Restaurant Style Veg Korma
5. Garlic Chutney w/Tamarind
6. Cauliflower w/Peas & Carrots
7. Cauliflower, Spinach & Potato Masala
8. Dal Tadka in Clay Pot
9. Spicy & Tangy Cauliflower
10. Garlic-Ginger Paste Recipe
11. Yellow Lentils w/Tomato Tadka
12. Spicy Cabbage Risotto
13. Chickpeas (Chole) in Tomato Gravy
14. Cilantro Rice w/Potatoes
Who should not take Fenugreek?
Fenugreek may reduce your appetite so if you are underweight or have an eating disorder, do not take fenugreek.
When taking fenugreek, make sure to monitor your sugar if you are already taking blood sugar medicines as it may lower your blood sugar too much.
If you are pregnant, don't take fenugreek in large quantities as it may have abortifacient effects.
Fenugreek has coumarin-like compounds so it may interfere with anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs.
Avoid fenugreek if you have a chickpea or peanut allergy - fenugreek is from the pea family.
Don't take too much fenugreek per day - fenugreek supplements usually have too high a dosage. Using it as a spice in food is the best and safest way to add fenugreek to your health regimen.
Fenugreek is an estrogenic herb/spice and while in small quantities it is excellent for both men and women, but in high quanitites it may be too much for your body.
Fenugreek may cause urine, breast milk or sweat to smell like maple-like odor
Ref. (1). Ref. (2). Ref. (3).
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