Fenugreek has long been an integral part of Ayurveda. It is known asmethika in Sanskrit andmethi in Hindi. Fenugreek ormethika is a very popular culinary spice, flavoring agent, and medicinal plant in Indian households.
It is used in bakery products, dairy products, condiments, spices, pickles, and beverages for its flavor and numerous health benefits.
Fenugreek or methialso has industrial applications as it is used for synthesizing steroidal hormones.
Due to its vital role in healthcare, the food industry refers to fenugreek as a potential nutraceutical. A nutraceutical is a food with both nutritional and pharmaceutical properties.
While the origin of fenugreek is unknown, it is believed to be native to the western Mediterranean.Various speciesare available throughout the world.
Methi ormethika grows inAsia (India and China), parts of Europe, Africa, Australia, and North and South America.
Botanical Name:Trigonella foenum
Sanskrit Synonyms with Meanings1
Methika or methi: It is helpful in curing Vata and Kapha javara (fever) hence it is calledmethikaormethi.
Bodhini:It is calledbodhini because it stimulates the appetite and aids digestion.
Peet beeja: The color of its seeds (beeja) are yellow (peet).
Read More: Ayurvedic Medicinal Herbs You Can Grow
Rasa or taste:Katu or pungent
Guna or qualities:Laghu or light,snigdha or oily
Viryaor potency:Ushna or hot
Vipakaor taste conversion after digestion:Katu or pungent
Effect ondosha:It is Vata shamak.Vata shamak means that it pacifies an aggravated Vata dosha due to itsushna virya andsnigdha guna.
Parts used:Seeds and whole plant.
Amount used as perDravyaguna Vijnana(Ayurvedic Herbology):1-3 grams.
Popular Ayurvedic formulation:Methi modaka.
Different Varieties of Fenugreek in Ayurveda.2
Read More: 50 Ayurvedic Herbs You Need To Know
The main chemical components of fenugreek are fibers, flavonoids, polysaccharides, saponins, fixed oils, and some known alkaloids.
Various clinical studies have been performed on fenugreek’s benefits. These studies have demonstrated fenugreek to have the following properties.
Anti-diabetic properties:Chemical components contribute to its anti-diabetic effects are its galactomannan rich soluble fiber, saponin, and the amino acid called 4-hydroxyleucine which helps in increasing insulin in hyperglycemic rats and humans.5
Studies done on animals at the National Institute of Nutrition in India have successfully demonstrated the anti-diabetic effect of fenugreek in both type-1 and type-2 diabetes.4
Fenugreek’s anti-diabetic effects have been successfully demonstrated in both type-1 and type-2 diabetes
Antioxidant activity: The chemical components that are responsible for its antioxidant activity are its flavonoids and phenolic compounds.The extracts have shown to neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals in the body. 5
Anti-tumor and anti-carcinogenic activity: Phytoestrogens and saponins in fenugreek extracts are responsible for its anti-tumor and anti-carcinogenic activities. Saponins selectively inhibit cell division in tumor cells and can activate apoptotic programs (programmed cell death of cancer cells).5
Hypocholesterolemic activity:The administration of fenugreek seeds and extracts has shown to significantly decrease plasma cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL cholesterol levels.The chemical components of fenugreek responsible for its hypocholesterolemic activity are its saponins, specifically diosgenin, galactomannan, and fibers.5
Antigenotoxic activity:In genetics, genotoxicity describes the property of certain chemical agents that can damage the genetic information within a cell causing mutations, which may lead to cancer.The methanolic extract of fenugreek leaves has shown a dose-dependent decrease in chromosomal aberration in Allium cepa roots.
Studies have also been done in microbial systems to observe its antimutagenic effect.Aqueous extract of fenugreek seeds have shown to inhibit the mutagenic activity of direct-acting mutagens against Salmonella typhimurium.5
Anti-inflammatory activity:The alkaloids, saponins, and flavonoids found in fenugreek are responsible for its anti-inflammatory activity.It has been observed that the chloroform fraction of seeds and the aqueous extract of fenugreek leaves show significant anti-inflammatory activity.5
Aqueous extract of fenugreek leaves show significant anti-inflammatory activity
Antimicrobial activity:Secondary metabolites found in fenugreek seed extracts possess antimicrobial activity.Fungus has also shown its sensitivity towards one of the proteins called defensin extracted from fenugreek leaves.
In studies, defensin not only inhibited the mycelial spread of Rhizoctonia solani (a type of fungus) but also inhibited spore germination and consequential hyphal growth of Phaeoisariopsis (a type of fungus).5
Gastroprotective effect:In addition to the various kinds of extracts tested, researchers have also tested the oil extracted from fenugreek seeds. This oil is also known to possess a slew of pharmacological properties.
One such property is the gastroprotective activity observed in oil extracted from fenugreek seeds.
Oil extracted from fenugreek seeds showed a marked gastroprotective effect
The incidence of gastric ulceration, mean ulcer score and ulcer index was found be significantly decreased in a group of mice subjected to an indomethacin-induced ulcer.
The decrease in the gastric ulcers may be attributed to the phytic acid, saponins, and trigonelline found in the oil extracted from fenugreek seeds.
One of the studies revealed the protective effect of aqueous extract of fenugreek seed against reflux esophagitis (RE) in rats.It has also been demonstrated that fenugreek accelerates the body’s wound healing process in injured rats due to its antioxidant potential.5
Analgesic activity: Aqueous and methanolic extract of fenugreek seeds showed potential analgesic activity in comparison to that of an established analgesic drug like diclofenac potassium.4
Fenugreek is contraindicated in bleeding disorders. It can enhance the anticoagulant activity of other herbs and medications like heparin, warfarin, and ticlopidine. Fenugreek should not be used in patients on anticoagulants.
It can also interfere with diabetic medicines as it has a known hypoglycemic activity.Diabetics should always take fenugreek only under strict medical supervision.
Fenugreek can also affect the potency and activity of corticosteroids, exogenous hormones, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
It is always advised to use fenugreek only after discussing with your Ayurvedic practitioner or general physician.
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