Name: Fenugreek, alhova, Trigonella foenum-graecum.
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) is one of the oldest medicinal plants, native to India and North Africa. This annual plant grows to a height of between 50 and 70 cm. The leaves and seeds, which ripen in long pods, are used to prepare extracts or powders for medicinal use. Fenugreek applications were documented in ancient Egypt, where it was used to embalm the bodies of mummies. In modern Egypt, fenugreek is still used as a supplement in wheat and corn flour to make bread. In ancient Rome, fenugreek was supposedly used to aid childbirth. In traditional Chinese medicine, fenugreek seeds are used as a treatment for leg weakness and edema. In India, fenugreek is commonly consumed as a condiment and used medicinally as a lactation stimulant *.
There are many other traditional uses, including treating indigestion and baldness.
PropertiesAccording to the European Medicines Agency, fenugreek seed is rich in mucilage polysaccharides (mainly galactomannans 25–45%) and also contains a small amount of essential oil (0.015%) and a variety of secondary metabolites (protoalkaloids, trigonellin (up to 0.37%), choline (0.05%)); saponins (0.6–1.7%) derived from diosgenin, yamogenin, thigogenin, and other compounds; sterols such as β-sitosterol; and flavonoids, among which we find orientina, isoorientina and isovitexina.
In the kitchen
Fenugreek seed is a fairly common ingredient in some curries and other spice blends in Southwest Asia, where it is both roasted and ground and consumed hydrated and whole, depending on the recipe or dish to be made.
It is also common to consume it mixed with rice or even to make various breads and pastas.
In the medicine cabinet
In the past, herbal preparations like powder or liquid extract have been used to stimulate appetite. An internal use as adjuvant therapy in diabetes mellitus, anorexia, as a complement to a low-fat diet in the treatment of mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia and an external use in the case of furunculosis, ulcers and eczema are mentioned in the ESCOP monograph.
In France, Poland and Spain, fenugreek is a traditional herbal medicine. The current therapeutic indications in these European countries are:
- - Oral use: mainly as an appetite stimulant.
- - External use: in the form of poultices, to relieve small inflammations of the skin, rashes, etc.
Apparently, there are also several studies and trials in rats that indicate that fenugreek seed reduces total levels of VLDL-LDL cholesterol.
Fenugreek is also part of the Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia and is used in arthritis and spondylosis, an adjuvant in diabetes and hyperlipidemia.
When reviewing the published literature to corroborate the clinical efficacy of fenugreek, it should be recognized that data are sparse and of little relevance in adults (results from preliminary animal and human trials have suggested the potential hypoglycemic and antihyperlipidemic properties of the powder oral fenugreek seeds.). However, its traditional use in Europe is at least 30 years old, with abundant documentation in France as early as the early 19th century.
Consequently, the effect of fenugreek is plausible and based on traditional use (data cannot corroborate well-established use).
Total dietary fiber 48% (insoluble 28%, soluble 20%), moisture 2.4%, protein 30%, lipids 7%, saponins 4.8% and ash 3.9%.
Information can be found in various sources that discuss the uses of fenugreek to stimulate milk secretion in nursing mothers. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this fact. Furthermore, one should avoid the consumption of fenugreek during pregnancy , in view of the uncertainties surrounding a beneficial effect of this plant on the one hand, and the uterine stimulating properties reported in animal studies by the other.
(WHO, 2007; ESCOP, 2003; Muralidhara et al, 1999; BRUNETON, 1998; Udayasekhara Rao et al, 1996; PARIS AND MOYSE, 1967; Assessment report on Trigonella foenum-graecum L., semen EMA / HMPC / 146220/2010 ).
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