Botanical Name :: Trigollella foellum-graecum
Indian Name :: Methi
Fenugreek is a well known leafy vegetable. It has excellent medicinal virtues. It is Nature’s great boon to mankind and its regular use will help keep the body healthy. Fenugreek is an erect, strongly scented, robust, annual herb, about 30 to 60 cm. high. It has compound leaves of light green color 2 to 2.5 cm. long, auxiliary yellow flowers, and thin pointed pods, 5 to 7 cm. long. The seeds are brownish yellow and emit peculiar odour.
There are two popular varieties of fenugreek known as Masuri Methi or Champa Methi and Marwari Methi. Both the varieties are scented and are recommended for cultivation.
Origin and Distribution
Fenugreek is considered to be a native of eastern Europe and Ethiopia. It is also found growing wild in north western India. It has been used since ancient times both as a food and medicine by the people living on the shores of Mediterranean and in Asia. The fenugreek is a cool season crop and it grows all over India.
Food Value of Fenugreek
In India, the plants and leaves of fenugreek known as methika-saagare commonly used as culinary vegetables. Steaming is considered the best method of cooking leaves as in this process the vitamins are retained and the vegetable is palatable. The dried leaves can be compared to pulses for their protein content. They supplement the lysine deficient cereal diets. Lysine is amino acid which is fundamental constituents of all proteins. The seeds of fenugreek contain a foetid and bitter fauy oil resin, mucilage and albumin. Their mineral and vitamin contents are very high. In Indian homes, seeds are generally used as a condiment and for flavoring.
Minerals and Vitamins
|Moisture – 86.1%||Calcium – 395 mg|
|Protein – 4.4%||Phosphorus – 51 mg|
|Fat – 0.9%||Iron – 16.5 mg|
|Vitamin C – 52 mg|
|Fibre – 1.1%||Small amount of Vitamin B Complex|
|Minerals – 1.5%||* Values per 100 gm’s edible portion|
|Carbohydrates – 6.0%||Calorific Value – 49|
Natural Benefits and Curative Properties of Fenugreek
The leaves of fenugreek are aromatic, cooling and mild aperient. Paste of the fresh leaves applied over the scalp regularly, before taking berth, lengthens hair, preserves the natural color and keeps the hair silky soft. Paste of the fresh leaves, applied on the face every night before going to bed and washed with warm water, prevents pimples, blackheads, dryness of the face and early appearance of wrinkles. It improves complexion and makes one look years younger. The seeds of fenugreek are demulcent, diuretic, carminative which relieves gastric discomforts, lactagogue, which increases the flow of milk, astringent and aphrodisiac tonic. They are the best cleansers to body, highly mucus solvents and soothing agents. The seeds are used in the preparation of hair tonics and cosmetics in Java.
- Digestive Disorders:- Fenugreek leaves are highly beneficial in the treatment of indigestion, flatulence and sluggish liver. They help in the healing of mouth ulcers. An infusion of the leaves is used as a gargle for recurrent ulcers. Boiled and fried in butter, they are valuable in biliousness. The seeds are also useful in the treatment of colic, flatulence, dysentery, diarrhea, and dyspepsia.
- Anemia:- The leaves help in blood formation. The cooked leaves are extremely useful for adolescent girls to prevent anemia and run down condition which is generally associated with the onset of puberty and sudden spurt of growth. The seeds of fenugreek are also valuable in anemia, being rich in iron.
- Pregnancy and Lactation:- The seeds are fried in ghee and finely powdered. This powder is mixed with wheat flour and sugar to prepare a halwa. This preparation, taken in small quantity daily, helps in quick normalization after delivery. The seeds, made into a gruel, are given as diet to nursing mothers for increasing the flow of milk.
- Deadened Sense of Taste and Smell:- The seeds help restore a deadened sense of taste or smell. The loss of sense of taste occurs due to improper functioning of the salivary glands. They often become plugged with mucus and accumulated juices, causing swelling. Similarly, the sense of smell is obstruded due to long accumulations of mucus or other impurities in the nose where the olfactory nerves are based. Regular use of fenugreek has proved beneficial in both these cases.
- Dandruff:- Fenugreek seeds are useful in the removal of dandruff. Two tablespoonfuls of the seeds should be soaked overnight in water. In the morning the softened seeds should be ground into a fine paste. This paste should be applied all over the scalp and left on the head for half an hour. The hair should then be washed thoroughly with soap nut solution or shikakai. Paste of the fresh leaves of fenugreek applied over the scalp regularly before taking bath also cures dandruff.
- Fevers:- A tea made from fenugreek seeds is equal in value to quinine for reducing fevers. It is particularly valuable as a cleansing and soothing drink. The fenugreek seeds, when moistened with water are themselves slightly mucilaginous. A tea made from them has the power to dissolve more sticky substance as body mucus.
- Stomach Disorders:- The fenugreek tea soothes inflamed stomach and intestines and cleanses the stomach, bowels, kidneys and respiratory tract of excess mucus. It is beneficial in the healing of peptic ulcers as the mild coating of gum like lubricant material deposited by fenugreek, as it passes through the stomach and intestines, provides a protective shell for the ulcers.
- Respiratory Infections:- During the early acute stages of any of the respiratory tract infections, such as bronchitis, influenza, sinusities, catarrah and suspected pneumonia, fenugreek tea will help the body to produce perspiration, dispel toxicity and shorten the period of fever. It should be taken up to four cups daily. The quantity is reduced as condition improves. To improve flavor, a few drops of lemon juice can be used. During such treatment, no form of food or nourishment should be taken as is followed during fasting and fenugreek will allow the body to correct these respiratory problems in a few days.
- Sore Throat:- The gargle made from fenugreek seeds is the best for ordinary sore throat. When preparing a gargle, the solution should be much stronger than a tea. Two tablespoonfuls fenugreek seeds should be put into a quart of cold water and allowed to simmer for half an hour over a low flame. It should be allowed to cool to a bearable temperature. It should then be strained and entire quantity used as a gargle.
- Bad breath and Body Odour:- The tea made from fenugreek is also beneficial in the case of bad breath and body odour. The unpleasant odours emanate from body openings due to accumulations of hardened mucus and other toxic substances in the nasal and oral passages, the gastrointestinal tract, the urinary tract, the bloodstream and vagina. The fenugreek tea, taken regularly will help remove these accumulation from such spots where mouth wash and soap can never penetrate.
- Diabetes:- Fenugreek seeds have been found highly effective in the treatment of diabetes. According to a recent report brought out by the Indian Council of Medical Research, as quoted by Press Trust of India on January 6, 1988, fenugreek seeds, when given in varying doses of 25 grams to 100 grams-daily, diminish reactive hyperglycaemia in diabetic patients. Levels of glucose, serum cholesterol and tryglycerides were also significantly reduced in the diabetes patients when the seeds were consumed, the report said Quoting researchers at the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, the report said that the effect of taking fenugreek seeds could be quite dramatic, when consumed with 1200-1400 calories diet per day, which is usually recommended for diabetic patients.
- Swellings:- Due to their cooling properties, a poultice of the leaves can be applied with advantage in external and internal swellings and burns.