Fenugreek

Scientific Name/Common Name: Trigonella foenum-graecum  / Fenugreek

Part(s) Used: Seed, powdered

Constituents/Active Ingredients: 45-60% carbohydrates, mainly mucilaginous fiber (galactomannans); 20-30% proteins high in lysine and tryptophan; 5-10% fixed oils (lipids); pryridine-type alkaloids mostly trigonelline (0.2-0.36%), choline (0.5%), gentianine, and carpaine; flavonoids (apigenin, luteolin, orientin, quercetin, vitexin, and isovitexin); free amino acids (4-hydroxyisoleucine [0.09%], arginine, histidine, and lysine); calcium and iron; saponins (0.6-1.7%); glycosides yielding steroidal sapogenins on hydrolysis (diosgenin, yamogenin, tigogenin, neotigogenin); cholesterol and sitosterol, vitamins A, B1, C, and nicotinic acid; and 0.015% volatile oils (n-alkanes and sesquiterpenes).

Overview: Fenugreek, also known as Bird’s Foot, is indigenous to the Mediterranean region, the Ukraine, India, and China. The medicinal properties of fenugreek are found in the ripe, dry seeds, which have been used for thousands of years in Arabian, Greek, Indian, and Chinese medicine. Crushed or powdered, these seeds can be used externally and applied as poultices for boils, hives, ulcers, and eczema. Internally, fenugreek seeds have been used in folk medicine to reduce blood sugar, increase lactation, and treat pellagra, appetite loss, indigestion, dyspepsia, bronchitis, fever, hernia, impotence, vomiting, catarrh of the respiratory tract, and stomach ulcers. According to the German Commission E, fenugreek seeds have secretolytic (anti-mucous) and mild antiseptic properties. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia states that the seeds have demulcent (soothing) and hypoglycemic actions.

Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: Traditionally used in Herbal Medicine to help stimulate the appetite, as a digestive tonic to aid digestion, to help relieve dyspepsia and gastritis, as a mild laxative, as an expectorant to help relieve excess mucous of the upper respiratory passages (anti-catarrhal), as a nutritive tonic, as a galactogogue/lactogogue to help promote milk production/secretion, as supportive therapy for the promotion of healthy glucose levels, and to help reduce elevated blood lipid levels/hyperlipidemia.

Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:

Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, editors. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Boston (MA): Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.

Hoffmann D. 2003. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester (VT): Healing Arts Press.

Disclaimer: This information in our Herbal Encyclopedia is intended only as a general reference for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for medical advice. This content does not provide dosage information, cautions/contraindications, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Please consult any relevant product labels for detailed information on use and with a medical practitioner for individual health advice.