What is Fenugreek?
Scientific name: Trigonella foenum-graecum
Fenugreek is classified under annual plants (plants that perform their entire life cycle from seed to flower within a single growing season). The plant is cultivated in northern Africa, India, western Asia, and southeastern Europe, and comes in the form of leaves and seeds. The use of Fenugreek dates back to approximately 4,000BC Iraq, where it was commonly used for both medicinal and culinary purposes; but mostly medicinal. It was used to treat ulcers, diabetes, flatulence, fever, and menstrual disorders.
Throughout evolution with new inventions of medicine, the use of Fenugreek declined and is mainly used as a spice because of its distinctive aroma.
Fenugreek is still widely used for medicinal purposes around the world because it’s an all in one solution to so many illnesses and disorders. I have personally experienced the benefits of this powerful plant within a week of consumption.
Promotes a healthy digestive system
Fenugreek has a range of essential compounds that are beneficial to the human body. One of the properties is mucilage. Mucilage promotes gut health because it aids in proper bowel function; which can prevent cases of constipation, and offer relief to individuals who suffer from severe cases of constipation.
Mucilage also heals the gut lining by soothing the membranes of the digestive system. This is because it contains gelatinous and gooey molecules. We need to have a healthy gut because a healthy gut fights against excessive acidity which further prevents the development of ulcers. The gooey, gelatinous molecules contain antioxidants that also fight against inflammation.
According to a study
Fenugreek seeds contain a high proportion(30%) of mucilage.Kuppusamy, Gowthamarajan & Kulkarni, Giriraj & Muthukumar, A. & Nanjaian, Mahadevan & Samantha, M.K. & Suresh, B.. (2002). Evaluation of fenugreek mucilage as gelling agent. Int J Pharma Excip. 3. 16-19.
I usually struggle with acidity before menstruation, but since I started consuming Fenugreek, my acidity dropped significantly beyond my expectations.
Fenugreek seeds also contain soluble fiber which lowers fat absorption by blocking fats that can be digested and absorbed. This aids in weight management and maintenance of sugar levels.
Sustains Blood sugar levels/Diabetes
As mentioned before, Fenugreek contains soluble fiber that prevents fats from being absorbed. This slows down the digestion rate of carbohydrates, which helps in preventing high surges in your blood sugar level and can prevent high surges from occurring in the first place.
According to research, Amino Acid-4-Hydroxyisoleucine molecules that give an insulin-stimulating effect are also found in fenugreek:
Fowden et al. (1973) isolated and identified the amino acid, 4-hydroxyisoleucine, in fenugreek seed for the first time. 4-Hydroxyisoleucine has been shown to cause an increase in glucose-dependent insulin secretion (Sauvaire et al., 1998; Jette et al., 2009) and to lower the elevated plasma triglycerides and total cholesterol levels (Narender et al., 2006). Abdel-Mawla and Osman (2011) used cell suspension cultures to raise the concentration of 4-hydroxyisoleucine content in fenugreek seed, which increased serum insulin levels and showed improvement in lowering the fasting blood glucose level in streptozotocin (STZ)-treated diabetic rats. Haeri et al. (2012) further demonstrated that 4-hydroxyisoleucine administered orally (50 mg/kg/day) for 4 weeks to STZ-treated (type 1 diabetes model) rats not only lowered the blood glucose level from 500 to 330 mg/dL but also significantly lowered the elevated lipids (total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL) level in STZ-treated diabetic rats, but not to the control levels.Ramesh C. Garg, in Nutraceuticals, 2016
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Fenugreek seeds can relieve menstrual cramps & help ease PMS symptoms
The way I identified that Fenugreek seeds do ease menstrual cramps(dysmenorrhea) was completely by chance.
The main reason I started using Fenugreek was for hair growth and to increase my metabolism, but it did more than that.
As I was consuming Fenugreek, I was surprised to get my period because I usually have terrible premenstrual symptoms. I didn’t experience any cramps but experienced very minimal cramps as my menstrual cycle progressed. I usually have terrible side effects from NSAIDs, and only ended up taking one, because I hate cramps with a passion.
Never once have I ever remembered being happy during menstruation. This was the first!
This is because Fenugreek seeds contain compounds such as alkaloids, flavonoids, saponins, tannins, diosgenin are all anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
According to a study several participants were given Fenugreek capsules-that contained 900mg of Fenugreek powder and placebo capsules that contained potato starch. The capsules were similar concerning shape, color, and packaging. Both of the capsules were taken three times a day [For the first 3 days of menstruation, 2−3 capsules containing Fenugreek seed powder (900 mg) were given three times daily].
These were the results:
Among 400 unmarried female dormitory residents, 221 reported primary dysmenorrhea. After exclusions, 106 individuals were enrolled in the study. The final analysis involved 101 students, 51 of whom received Fenugreek and 50 received placebo.
Pain severity at baseline did not differ significantly between the groups. In the Fenugreek group, pain severity decreased from 6.4 at baseline to 3.25 in the second cycle, whereas that in the placebo group decreased from 6.14 to 5.96, Pain severity in each intervention cycle differed significantly between the two groups, with pain reduction in each cycle being significantly larger in the Fenugreek group.
The duration of pain in intervention cycles was shorter in the fenugreek group. Concerning the duration of pain, there were no meaningful differences between the two cycles in the placebo group but, in the fenugreek group, the duration of pain decreased between the two cycles. The mean number of sedative tablets required in the fenugreek group decreased significantly.
Furthermore, in the fenugreek group, the severity of the systemic symptoms associated with dysmenorrhea decreased significantly as well.Younesy, Sima & Akbari, Sedigheh & Esmaeili, Somayeh & Alavimajd, Hamid & Nouraei, Soheila. (2014). Effects of Fenugreek Seed on the Severity and Systemic Symptoms of Dysmenorrhea. Journal of reproduction & infertility. 15. 41-8.
Fenugreek seeds are still used to treat menstrual disorders in modern-day Egypt.
Enhances libido in men
Fenugreek can increase sexual desire in men.
A clinical study was done to evaluate the effect of Testofen, a standardized Fenugreek extract, and mineral formulation, on male libido in a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled study.
The study recruited 60 healthy males aged between 25 and 52, without erectile dysfunction and randomized to an oral dose (two tablets per day) of the active treatment (600 mg Testofen per day) or placebo for 6 weeks.
Testofen had an overall positive effect on physiological aspects of libido. It was concluded that Testofen demonstrated a significant positive effect on the physiological aspects of libido and may assist to maintain normal healthy testosterone levels.Steels, E., Rao, A. and Vitetta, L. (2011), Physiological Aspects of Male Libido Enhanced by Standardized Trigonella foenum‐graecum Extract and Mineral Formulation. Phytother. Res., 25: 1294-1300. doi:10.1002/ptr.3360
I have not experienced any side effects of Fenugreek, but every individual is different.
Fenugreek is very safe but pregnant women should not consume it because it can cause malformations in the baby as well as early contractions. Even though it’s not safe for pregnant women to consume Fenugreek, it’s very safe for women who are breastfeeding.
People allergic to plants that belong to the Fabaceae family-like soybeans, peanuts, and green peas might also be allergic to Fenugreek.
Fenugreek offers lots of benefits that you will not even find in one pharmaceutical drug, Even if you intend to use it for one purpose, it will still benefit your body beyond expectations.