Fenugreek, also known as methi, is a popular herb commonly found in the Mediterranean region of the world. However, due to its strong medicinal properties and uses in Ayurvedic medicine, it has gained popularity worldwide.
The nutrients found in this herb include iron, manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin B6. Fenugreek also contains a number of powerful phytonutrients.
The leaves and seeds are both known to possess antimicrobial, antioxidant, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.
Both the tender leaves as well as the seeds are used for cooking as well as for medicinal purposes. While the leaves have a slight bitter taste, the seeds have a pungent flavor and aroma.
The seeds are usually dried and ground. Also, you can find fenugreek extracts and supplements in the market, but consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
Here are the top 10 health benefits of fenugreek seeds and leaves.
1. Helps Control Diabetes
This herb is highly beneficial for people who have diabetes. Its hypoglycemic property plays a key role in improving glucose tolerance and lowering blood sugar levels.
Plus, the fiber in fenugreek slows down the absorption of carbohydrates and sugars.
A 2009 study published in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research evaluated the hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects of fenugreek seeds in Type 2 diabetes patients.
This study suggests that 10 grams of fenugreek seeds soaked in hot water may be helpful in controlling high blood sugar.
Also, eating baked goods like bread made with fenugreek flour may help reduce insulin resistance in Type 2 diabetics, according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food.
- Soak 1 to 2 tablespoons of fenugreek seeds in a glass of water overnight. The next morning, drink the water as well as chew the seeds on an empty stomach. Do this daily.
- You can also eat baked goods made with fenugreek flour.
Note: Intake of fenugreek along with diabetes medication can lead to low blood sugar. Hence, talk to your doctor before taking fenugreek.
2. Stimulates Breast Milk Production
For nursing mothers, fenugreek helps stimulate breast milk production. Both the seeds and leaves work as excellent galactagogues to stimulate breast milk production.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine notes that maternal galactagogue herbal tea supplementation enhances breast milk production and facilitates infant birth weight regain in early postnatal days.
Plus, the magnesium and vitamin content of fenugreek improves the quality of breast milk, which is important for the baby’s overall health. This herb even helps alleviate common post-delivery problems, such as flatulence and body aches.
- Soak 1 tablespoon of fenugreek seeds in 1 cup of water overnight. The next morning, boil the water along with the seeds for several minutes, then strain it. Drink it every morning.
- You can also add a few fresh fenugreek leaves to your soups, stews or salads.
- To increase milk flow, you can also take 1 capsule of fenugreek seed (at least 500mg), 3 times a day. Always consult a doctor first.
If your infant shows signs of diarrhea, stop eating fenugreek.
Note: Diabetic and asthmatic women must not use fenugreek remedies without consulting their doctor.
3. Balances Cholesterol Level
Fenugreek also has cholesterol-lowering power. It has a good amount of soluble fiber, which increases the viscosity of the digested food and inhibits the uptake of cholesterol and bile acids.
It helps reduce the low-density lipoprotein (LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol) level in your blood. Bad cholesterol can cause blockages in your blood vessels, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology highlights the protective effect of dietary fenugreek seeds and garlic on induced oxidation of LDL in rats. Further human studies are needed.
To reduce high cholesterol, it is recommended to take 2 ounces of fenugreek seeds throughout the day. Dry roast the seeds, then grind them into a powder. The powder can be sprinkled onto prepared food or can be consumed with water.
4. Improves Heart Health
Fenugreek has antioxidant and cardioprotective benefits, which help improve overall heart health. It works as a blood thinner to prevent blood clots, which can stop blood flow to the heart, lungs and brain. Fenugreek also lowers blood pressure.
In addition, it reduces the risk of atherosclerosis due to its strong modulating effect on blood lipid levels. Plus, it stabilizes blood sugar and fights obesity, two major factors that increase the risk of developing heart disease.
A 2011 study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology highlights the cardioprotective effect of fenugreek on lipid peroxidation and antioxidant defense system during isoproterenol-induced myocardial infarction in rats.
To improve your heart health, drink 1 to 2 cups of fenugreek seed tea daily. To make the tea:
- Add 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds to 1 ½ to 2 cups of water.
- Boil it for 5 minutes, then strain it.
- Add a little raw honey.
5. Cures Constipation
Fenugreek contains a good amount of soluble fiber that absorbs water in the intestines and adds bulk to the stools. This triggers contractions and helps move stools through the intestines easily to ease constipation.
It also relieves indigestion and stomach pain. Plus, it soothes gastrointestinal inflammation by coating the linings of the stomach and intestine to treat heartburn and acid reflux.
- Boil 1 cup of fenugreek leaves in sufficient water for 5 min. You don’t need to strain it. Cool the mixture, then add some honey. Consume it twice daily until you get rid of the constipation.
- To maintain regularity, eat ½ tablespoon of fenugreek seed powder along with 1 glass of warm water daily before going to bed.
Note: Fenugreek remedies for constipation are not recommended for very small children.
6. Curbs Joint Pain
Fenugreek is particularly beneficial for treating joint pain due to arthritis. It contains a compound known as diosgenin that aids the body’s production of cortisone and other corticosteroids, which help treat arthritis pain.
Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties also relieve pain and inflammation. Plus, the nutrients like calcium, iron and phosphorus in fenugreek are needed for healthy bones and tissues.
- Munch on 1 tablespoon of soaked fenugreek seeds daily in the morning to reduce joint pain.
- Also, make a paste of fenugreek seed powder and warm water. Apply this paste on the painful areas. Allow it to dry, then rinse it off with warm water. Use this remedy twice daily until the pain is gone.
7. Fights the Flu and Colds
Fenugreek has antioxidant properties that help fight flu and cold symptoms. It also has strong antiviral, antibacterial and various other medicinal properties that help kill the microorganisms responsible for making you sick.
The mucilage in fenugreek also helps ease cough and pain from a sore throat. It even helps reduce a fever.
- Mix 1 teaspoon each of fenugreek powder, lemon juice and raw honey. Consume it twice daily to fight cold and flu symptoms.
- To speed up the recovery time, drink fenugreek tea 2 or 3 times a day.
- To get rid of a sore throat, gargle with warm fenugreek tea twice daily.
8. Reduces Menstrual Discomforts
Fenugreek contains compounds that have estrogen-like properties, which help reduce menstrual-related discomforts. These compounds even ease menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, depression, and mood fluctuations.
Plus, the high iron content in fenugreek aids new red blood cell production to make up for the loss of blood.
- Drink warm fenugreek tea twice daily to reduce menstrual discomforts.
- You can also use fenugreek leaves in your cooking, especially in soups or salads.
9. Supports Hair Health
Fenugreek is considered good for hair growth due to its rich protein content. Protein is necessary for hair growth and strength. It even helps rebuild hair follicles, which is important for treating hair loss.
Plus, the high amount of lecithin in it helps lock in moisture to make your hair more manageable.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of fenugreek seed powder with enough coconut milk to make a paste.
- Apply the paste on your scalp and hair.
- Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, then shampoo your hair as usual.
- Do this once a week.
10. Enhances Skin Health
Fenugreek has surprising benefits for your skin, too. Its antioxidant property helps prevent free-radical damage, which in turn eliminates signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines.
You can also use fenugreek to treat skin problems, such as abscesses, boils, burns and eczema, due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It even helps get rid of scars.
- Blend 1 tablespoon each of soaked fenugreek seeds and plain yogurt to make a smooth paste. Apply the paste on your face. Wait 30 minutes, then scrub it off with wet fingers. This exfoliates dead skin cells from the face. Finally, rinse your face with cold water. Repeat once a week.
- Alternatively, make a paste of fresh fenugreek leaves and a little water and apply it on your face. Allow it to dry, then wash it off with water. Repeat once a week to enjoy flawless skin.
Tips and Warnings
- Avoid taking fenugreek in large amounts, as it can lead to side effects like nausea and diarrhea.
- Before using this herb topically, do a patch test to reduce the possibility of skin irritation and rashes.
- Do not use this herb during pregnancy. It has the potential to induce labor.
- If you take any medications, consult your doctor before including this herb in your diet.