What is Fenugreek (Methi)?

Fenugreek is a herb which is exorbitantly used for cooking due to its palatable taste and fragrance and in medicine, particularly in Ayurveda, due to its exceptional healing properties.

Fenugreek is native to the Mediterranean region, Southern Europe, and parts of Western Asia. It requires sufficient sunlight and fertile soil for its growth and is thus commonly cultivated in India, which is one of the largest producers of fenugreek in the world. Here, fenugreek leaves (methi) are commonly cooked as a vegetable, and the seeds are used as an active ingredient of spices and medicines. It is also additionally used as an additive agent to improve the palatability of certain drugs or medicines while masking the taste of other ingredients.

Other than this, fenugreek is commonly used for home-based remedies and treatments of various disorders and ailments, forming an inevitable part of Indian homes and kitchens.

Digestive disorders are most commonly treated with these home remedies, due to the therapeutic effects of fenugreek on the digestive system. These will be discussed in the later sections of the article.

The use of fenugreek dates back to the history of mankind. Fenugreek was used by ancient Greeks for the process of embalming, as evidenced by the remains of this herb in tombs. Due to its strong taste and smell, it is also used as a non-caffeine substitute for coffee. Let’s have a look at some basic facts and nutritional values of this wonderful herb.

Some basic facts about Fenugreek

  • Botanical nameTrigonella foenum-graecum
  • Family: Fabaceae (Pea Family)
  • Common names: Methi, Methi dana, Greek Hay, Greek Clover
  • Sanskrit name: Bahuparni
  • Parts used: Seed and leaves
  • Energetics: Warm
  1. Fenugreek Nutrition Facts
  2. Benefits of Fenugreek
  3. How to use fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
  4. Fenugreek Dosage
  5. Side effects of fenugreek

Fenugreek is a highly nutritious herb and has a high dietary fibre content, which assists with weight loss. It is rich in Galactomannan, which is a water-soluble heteropolysaccharide and helps in enhancing the weight loss process. Other constituents and nutritional values of fenugreek are discussed in the table.

Particulars Values per 100 grams
Water 8.84 g
Protein 23.00 g
Total Lipid 6.41 g
Carbohydrate 58.35 g
Fibre 24.6 g
Iron 33.53 g

Total energy: 323 kcal per 100g

Fenugreek seeds have been used since ancient times for the treatment of various ailments and disorders and to maintain utmost health and proper bodily functions. Some of the benefits of fenugreek seeds, fenugreek powder and supplements will be discussed in this section.

  • Reduces blood sugar levels: Methi powder, when taken in a 5 to 50 g of dosage regularly improves carbohydrate metabolism and reduces blood glucose levels in people suffering from diabetes mellitus.
  • Promotes weight reduction: Methi dana water contains galactomannan, which is conducive to weight loss by appetite reduction. Not only this, but it also helps regulate blood pressure levels, a common complication of obesity.
  • Benefits for women: It has been suggested that consuming 1800-2700 mg of methi in the first three days and about 900 mg in the later days of menstruation is useful in reducing period pain without much side effect. It also assists in regularising menstrual cycle.
  • Improves exercise performance: Fenugreek, when taken in the form of supplements, has been found to improve muscle strength and endurance along with reducing total body fat. This is useful in improving exercise performance.
  • Benefits for stomach: Fenugreek seeds are traditionally used for relieving various stomach complaints such as bloating and indigestion. Being rich in fibre, they also prevent constipation.
  • Relieves arthritis symptoms: Fenugreek seeds polyunsaturated fatty acids, which have been suggested to possess anti-inflammatory properties. In various studies, fenugreek powder consumption is found to reduce joint pain and swelling in arthritic individuals.

Fenugreek tea for diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is mainly caused due to insulin resistance of body cells, leading to high blood glucose levels. Fenugreek seeds are known to reduce blood glucose levels by improving carbohydrate metabolism of the body as proven by a French study performed with the help of fenugreek tea.

When added to the food or diet of a diabetic individual, it considerably helps to lower blood glucose levels, particularly in case of type 2 diabetes mellitus. A dosage of 5 to 50 grams of this seed, once or twice a day, mixed with food, is known to be highly effective for controlling type 2 diabetes, whereas type 1 diabetes requires a higher dose for its regulation, that is, around 50 grams of powder, other than a food additive.

Fenugreek powder is obtained from ground fenugreek seeds and is to be consumed twice daily, for the evident effects of reduction in blood glucose level, which will be reflected by reduced excretion of glucose in urine.

Read more: Exercises for diabetes

Fenugreek tablets improve exercise

The results obtained from different studies are conflicting with respect to the effect of fenugreek seeds on exercise performance. However, it has been recognized by a majority of these studies that the usage of 300 mg of fenugreek supplements for 8 weeks decreases the percentage of body fat, and improves muscle strength and endurance when consumed daily.

Fenugreek is also known to improve leg and bench press performance, as demonstrated by early researchers. This helps to improve exercise performance in individuals but does not enable them to exercise for longer hours or lift more weights.

Read more: How to keep yourself motivated to exercise at home

Benefits of methi dana water

Fenugreek is a natural weight loss ingredient used since time immemorial, particularly by Indians, in the form of fenugreek water. It is suggested to have potentially no side effects, as opposed to other weight loss products and pills. Not only does it aid weight loss, but it also helps in reducing complications related to it, like high blood pressure (hypertension), insulin resistance and improper digestion. This is enabled with the help of galactomannan, a water-soluble heteropolysaccharide found in fenugreek seeds. It functions by reducing your appetite and making you feel more full. 

(Read more: Weight loss diet chart)

Methi powder for hypertension

Other than aiding weight loss, fenugreek seeds are also effective in the management and control of hypertension. Hypertension is mainly caused due to a higher concentration of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is also called ‘bad cholesterol’. Higher concentration of LDL and lower concentration of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) are the major contributing factors of hypertension. While the effects of LDL have been well understood, the findings related to the effects of fenugreek seeds on HDL are still conflicting.

Read more: High cholesterol causes and treatment

Fenugreek powder for constipation

Fenugreek seeds are used in Ayurveda for the management of a variety of digestive problems. Due to its warming and soothing effects on the body, it is well used for relieving constipation and bloating, while balancing out the bodily functions in affected individuals.

Ground fenugreek seeds consumed at least twice a day are also known to enhance digestion, which prevents constipation. This is suggested to be due to the high fiber content of fenugreek seeds.

Read more: Home remedies for constipation

Fenugreek powder reduces inflammation

Fenugreek seeds contain linolenic and linoleic acid, which possess anti-inflammatory properties and help in reducing the effects of inflammation in the body. Studies conducted with the help of fenugreek seed powder extracts have also demonstrated a reduction in arthritic inflammation in affected individuals, thus, indicating that this herb may also be beneficial in the symptomatic management of arthritis.

Read more: Inflammatory disease causes

Methi dana for menstrual pain

Fenugreek seeds are used to cure a variety of disorders in females, the most pronounced effects of which are in the treatment of dysmenorrhea. Studies suggest that consumption of 1800-2700 mg of fenugreek seeds thrice daily is effective in the management of dysmenorrhea, for the first three days of menstruation. Following this, a dose of 900 mg is recommended three times daily for the subsequent days of menstruation. Apart from reducing menstrual pain, this dosage is also indicated to be effecting in reducing the need for analgesics (pain killers).

Fenugreek extract for polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

Another significant effect of fenugreek seeds on women’s health is that it helps to control the symptoms of polycystic ovarian disease or syndrome, particularly in the regulation of menstrual cycles in women.

It has been suggested by early researchers that consumption of certain type of fenugreek seeds in a certain quantity is helpful in regulating the length of menstrual cycles and the duration between subsequent periods, which is generally disturbed in individuals with PCOS. These researchers suggested the use of variants of fenugreek seeds extracts in a quantity of 1000 mg to help with the aforementioned benefits. In addition to this, prolonged consumption of this type of fenugreek seeds can also help in reducing the overall size of ovarian cysts.

Read more: Can I still get pregnant if I have PCOS

Methi leaves for respiratory tract disorders

Due to the healing and anti-inflammatory effects of fenugreek, fenugreek is also widely used to reduce the intensity of the symptoms of respiratory disorders. In addition to this, it also is known to possess antibacterial and antiviral properties, which helps to destroy the microorganisms infect the respiratory tract.

Its demulcent (reduces irritation and inflammation of mucous membrane) actions help in soothing the mucous membrane, while encouraging the expectoration of excess mucus (thin slippery fluid present in the lining of various body tissues).

Furthermore, the warming effects of fenugreek on the body help in providing relief from the symptoms of respiratory disorders, like bronchitis, and common infections, like cough and common cold.

Read more: Lung disease symptoms

While the particular dosage to be used for the treatment of specific disorders have already been discussed in the sections above, a few recipes will be shared in this section to help you incorporate fenugreek in your daily routine, as a home remedy and an active kitchen ingredient.

Fenugreek water 

Highly efficient in weight loss, fenugreek water can be very easily prepared at home by following these steps:

  • Soak a thin piece of cloth in water and place fenugreek seeds on it, while pressing it with a heavy utensil or weight
  • Leave it in the same way for three nights and then remove the heavyweight
  • Consume fenugreek water as an efficient weight loss drink after the sprouts have grown to a considerable length

Alternatively, ground fenugreek seeds can also be directly ingested along with hot water for similar effects and weight loss.

Fenugreek tea

As you by now know that fenugreek is efficient in controlling type 2 diabetes, this recipe may come handy if you are affected with the same. It can be easily made at home by using simple kitchen ingredients in addition to fenugreek. The following steps may be followed:

  • Grind some fenugreek seeds along with a small amount of water, to form a fine paste.
  • And this paste to boiling water in a pan to form tea
  • You can now add other ingredients of your choice to enhance flavour, like cinnamon, ginger or pepper
  • Cover and cook it for  5 minutes on simmer before consuming

Sipping this tea on an empty stomach each day may help you to control your blood sugar levels, reducing your dependence on insulin and other regulatory medications.

Methi dana and honey

If you do not like the strong taste and pungent smell of fenugreek seeds, you can depreciate it by consuming it with honey, which adds to its nutritional benefits, while enhancing the taste. This can be made in the form of tea by following these steps:

  • Prepare tea in a similar way by adding fenugreek paste to boiling water and let the mixture rest for three hours in a covered pan
  • Now filter the tea and add honey and lemon juice
  • Consume every morning for the best results

The recommended daily dosage of methi seeds is 5 to 30 g of powder, twice to thrice daily. It is best to consume this amount before the mealtime. A higher dosage of around 25 to 50 g is said to be anti-inflammatory if you are taking methi seeds for the management of hypertension.

Note: Specific dosage of fenugreek depends on age, weight, height, gender and other factors. In case you are a diabetic or have any other chronic health condition, you should not consume fenugreek without consulting your physician or ayurveda doctor.

While the benefits of these miracle seeds are countless, you should not consume an excess of it before consulting with your physician, especially if you are suffering from any health disorder, particularly diabetes, since fenugreek alters blood glucose levels. Although fenugreek is a potentially safe herb and is highly unlikely to cause any side effects when used in a quantity which is added to food, an additional use for medicinal purposes may be performed carefully. Consult your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects are experienced.

  1. Diarrhoea
  2. Stomach upset
  3. Bloating or gas
  4. Headache
  5. Dizziness

The more serious side effects are:

  1. Coughing
  2. Wheezing
  3. Nasal congestion
  4. Facial swelling

These are observed in case of hypersensitive reaction to the herb.

Caution

  1. Use of fenugreek seeds is not recommended during pregnancy, since it can cause alterations or malformations in the fetus.
  2. In diabetes mellitus, it must be used carefully in the prescribed amounts, to avoid the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels), which is an emergency medical condition.
  3. Medicinal use of fenugreek, other than its use in food, must not be made for an extended duration of time. It should last no longer than 6 months.
  4. Use of fenugreek is not recommended in children, particularly direct consumption of seeds by the mouth.

Medicines / Products that contain Fenugreek

References

  1. Bahmani M et al. Obesity Phytotherapy: Review of Native Herbs Used in Traditional Medicine for Obesity. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2016 Jul;21(3):228-34. PMID: 26269377
  2. Kilambi Pundarikakshudu, Deepak H. Shah, Aashish H. Panchal, Gordhanbhai C. Bhavsar. Anti-inflammatory activity of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum Linn) seed petroleum ether extract. Indian J Pharmacol. 2016 Jul-Aug; 48(4): 441–444. PMID: 27756958
  3. United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Basic Report: 02019, Spices, fenugreek seed. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release [Internet]
  4. Nagulapalli Venkata KC, Swaroop A, Bagchi D, Bishayee A. A small plant with big benefits: Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum Linn.) for disease prevention and health promotion.. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2017 Jun;61(6). PMID: 28266134
  5. Arpana Gaddam et al. Role of Fenugreek in the prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus in prediabetes. J Diabetes Metab Disord. 2015; 14: 74. PMID: 26436069
  6. Chris Poole et al. The effects of a commercially available botanical supplement on strength, body composition, power output, and hormonal profiles in resistance-trained males. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010; 7: 34. PMID: 20979623
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