The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

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Fenugreek

Scientific Names

Fenugreek

  • Trigonella foenum-graecum L.
  • Leguminosae
  • Pea family

Common Names

  • Fenugreek seeds
  • Hu-lu-ba (Chinese name)
  • Hu-lu-pa (Chinese name)
  • K’u-tou (Chinese name)
  • Methi (Sanskrit name)
  • Bird’s Foot
  • Greek Hayseed

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Parts Usually Used

Seeds
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

A native to southestern Europe and west Asia, used for forage and formerly in medicine and having seeds used in cooking. Needs full sun and rich soil.

Fenugreek is an annual plant widely cultivated for both medicinal and culinary uses. A long taproot sends up a round stem with few branches. The leaves are trifoliate, on hairy petioles, with obovate leaflets. In June or July, axillary, sessile, yellowish flowers appear. The fruit is a 16-seeded, compressed, malodorous legume. These are small, pale, reddish-brown seeds with small pods.
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Where Found

Cultivated
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Medicinal Properties

Seeds: expectorant, demulcent, emollient, fegrifuge, carminitive, nutritive, tonic, mucilaginous, restorative, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, stimulant

Aerial parts: antispasmodic
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Biochemical Information

Biotin, choline, inositol, iron, lecithin, mucilage, volatile oils, PABA, phosphates, protein, trigoneline, trimethylamine, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, and D. Rich in phosphates, lecithin, nucleo-albumin, iron, vitamins A and D (similar in composition to cod liver oil).
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Legends, Myths and Stories

Fenugreek is one of the oldest medicinal plants, dating back to the ancient Egyptians and Hippocrates. The botanical name (foenum-graecum) means “Greek hay.”

In ancient Egypt, fenugreek was used to ease childbirth and to increase milk flow. Today, it is still taken by Egyptian women for menstrual pain and as hilba tea to ease stomach problems of tourists.

Introduced into the southern provinces of China, the beans were in use as a medicine since the time of the Tang dynasty. Usually parched or boiled, and given with aloes, anise-seed and other substances as a tonic.

Best known in India and among the people around the Mediterranean Sea, the seeds have a flavor somewhat like maple sugar and an extract is used to make artificial maple flavor. Fenugreek is an ingredient in chutneys and used in some curry blends. The roasted seeds are used as an adulterant and as a coffee substitute.

Burkill stated, “The seeds, after roasting, are eaten in Egypt, and in ancient Egypt were regarded as medicinal and were used in religious rites. They contain mucilage, sugars, an alkaloid–trigonellin, which is not poisonous–cholin and a scented compound.”

A study in India involving insulin-dependent diabetics on low doses of insulin, pulverized fenugreek seeds were shown to reduce blood sugar and other harmful fats. The authors of the study suggest adding fenugreek seeds to the diets of diabetics.

In recent years, fenugreek is used as a beverage. Used in Europe in many veterinary preparations.
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Uses

Used for allergies, coughs, colds, flu, inflammations, fevers, dyspepsia, tonic, emphysema, flatulence, headaches, toothache, migraines, menstrual cramps, intestinal inflammation, cystitis, hydrocele of the testicle, pellegra, stomach ulcers, lungs, bronchitis, dropsy, mucous membranes, and tea for sore throat gargle.

Acts as a bulk laxative. Reduces fever, lowers cholesterol, and lubricates the intestines. Good for the eyes.

Seeds of this annual herb are used in pickling brines and marinades, as well as folk cures ranging from regulating insulin in diabetes to rickets. It was an ingredient in tonic medicines (including Lydia Pinkham’s) in the nineteenth century.

Large amounts of the decoction are given to strengthen those suffering from tuberculosis or recovering from an illness. Sometimes thought of as an aphrodisiac. Makes poultice of pulverized seeds for gouty pains, neuralgia, scrofula, rickets, anemia, debility, sciatica, swollen glands, wounds, furuncles, abscesses, (grind the seed, mix it with charcoal, and make it into a thick paste for boils, abscesses, wounds, sores), tumors, dandruff, sores, and skin irritation.

The pulverized seeds may be taken as a tonic for osteomyelitis or scrofula (tubercular adenitis; secondary involvement of the cervical lymph nodes).

Mostly used in tea, fenugreek seeds can be sprouted like bean sprouts and used as a vegetable or a salad. The oil of fenugreek has a maple flavor and can be used for a true maple flavoring in cookies and syrups. Seed smells like celery but has a more bitter taste. Ground seed’s primary use is as an ingredient in curries.
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Formulas or Dosages

Boil some fenugreek seed in 8 oz. warm water. Make a thick paste. Apply the resulting hot mash to boils, abscesses, irritations, etc. This will soften the spot and draw the pus to the surface, enabling discharge of it.

Decoction: use 2 tsp. seed with 1 cup cold water; let stand for 5 hours. Then heat and boil for 1 minute. Take 2 or 3 cups per day. Improve the taste with peppermint oil, lemon extract, honey, or sugar.

For flatulence: for stomach or intestinal gas, sprinkle powdered
fenugreek over food or drink a tea (1 tsp. seeds to 1 cup boiling
water, steep 15 minutes, strain) with meals.

Gargle: mix 1 tbsp. of pulverized seeds in 8 oz. of boiling
water. Steep for 10 minutes, strain. Gargle 3 times daily (every 3
to 4 hours) to relieve sore throat.
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Nutrient Content

Protein, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, and D.

The aromatic oil of fenugreek is rich in iron, vitamins A and D (similar in composition to cod liver oil).
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How Sold

Seed sold in whole or powder form.

Capsules: take 1 capsule for up to 3 times daily.

Tablets: 8 to 10 per day.
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Warning

A uterine stimulant; should be avoided during pregnancy. The aerial parts may be used during labor.

Insulin-dependent diabetics should seek professional medical advice before using fenugreek as a hypoglycemic.
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Resource Links

LiveStrong.com: Fenugreek for Digestion

LiveStrong.com: Benefits of Fenugreek Capsules

LiveStrong.com: Fenugreek Health Benefit

LiveStrong.com: Fenugreek for Congestion

LiveStrong.com: How Safe Is Fenugreek?

LiveStrong.com: Dandelion & Fenugreek Interaction

LiveStrong.com: The Uses of Fenugreek Ayurvedic

U.S. National Library of Medicine: Fenugreek

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fenugreek

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Fenugreek

PubMed.gov: The plant extracts of Momordica charantia and Trigonella foenum-graecum have anti-oxidant and anti-hyperglycemic properties for cardiac tissue during diabetes mellitus.

PubMed.gov: Safety and efficacy of galactogogues: substances that induce, maintain and increase breast milk production.

PubMed.gov: The effect of fenugreek on the gene expression of arachidonic acid metabolizing enzymes.

PubMed.gov: Anti-heartburn effects of a fenugreek fiber product.

PubMed.gov: Effect of organic acids and plant extracts on Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella Typhimurium in broth culture model and chicken meat systems.

PubMed.gov: Role of selected Indian plants in management of type 2 diabetes: a review

PubMed.gov: Herbs for serum cholesterol reduction: a systematic view

PubMed.gov: Fenugreek: a naturally occurring edible spice as an anticancer agent

PubMed.gov: What do herbalists suggest to diabetic patients in order to improve glycemic control? Evaluation of scientific evidence and potential risks.

PubMed.gov: In vitro estrogenic activities of fenugreek Trigonella foenum graecum seeds.

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Bibliography

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

Buy It! Chinese Medicinal Herbs, compiled by Shih-Chen Li, Georgetown Press, San Francisco, California, 1973.

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! Earl Mindell’s Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., Simon & Schuster/Fireside, Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

Buy It! Secrets of the Chinese Herbalists, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Company, Inc., West Nyack, NY, 1987.

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! Old Ways Rediscovered, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, published from 1954, print 1988

Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements, by James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C., Avery Publishing Group, Inc., Garden City Park, NY

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! The Magic of Herbs in Daily Living, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Co. (1988).

Buy It! Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, 15th Edition, F. A. Davis Company, 1915 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It! A Useful Guide to Herbal Health Care, HCBL (Health Center for Better Living).,1414 Rosemary Lane, Naples, FL 34103., Special Sale Catalog, 1996

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

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