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Fenugreek Health Benefits
What is Fenugreek?
Fenugreek (also known as Greek Hay and Fenigreek), is an herb that is commonly found growing in the Mediterranean regions of southern Europe and Asia. Both the seeds and leaves are primarily used as a culinary spice. However, Fenugreek was also used to treat a whole slew of ailments in ancient Egypt, Greece, Italy and India/Pakistan ranging from bronchial problems to low libido.
The seeds of the fenugreek herb are an effective nutritional supplement and have also been used by herbalists for many centuries for the health benefits it provides. Fenugreek seeds contain protein, vitamin C, niacin, potassium, and diosgenin (a phytoestrogen compound that seems to mimic the effects of the hormone estrogen). The diosgenin in fenugreek is thought to help increase libido and lessen the effects of hot flashes and hormone-induced mood fluctuations. More active constituents in fenugreek are alkaloids, lysine and L-tryptophan. It also contains steroidal saponins (diosgenin, yamogenin, tigogenin, and neotigogenin) and mucilaginous fiber which are believed to be responsible for many of the beneficial effects fenugreek exhibits.
What are the Benefits of Fenugreek?
Fenugreek is an amazing magic herb that can cure number of ailments. Indian Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine recommend fenugreek to treat arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, improve digestion, maintain a healthy metabolism, increase libido and male potency, cure skin problems (wounds, rashes and boils), treat sore throat, and cure acid reflux. Fenugreek also has a long history of use for the treatment of reproductive disorders, to induce labor, to treat hormonal disorders, to help with breast enlargement, and to reduce menstrual pain. Recent studies have shown that Fenugreek helps lower blood glucose and cholestrol levels, and may be an effective treatment for both type 1 and 2 diabetes. Fenugreek is also being studied for its cardiovascular benefits.
Uses of Fenugreek
Home Remedy for Balancing Cholesterol
A study in India found people who took 2 ounces of fenugreek seed each day had significantly (around 14 percent) lower cholesterol levels after 24 weeks, and had lowered their risk of heart attack by more than 25 percent. Therefore, a recommended remedy for lowering cholesterol is to take 2 ounces of Fenugreek seeds as part of one meal each day. The seeds can be sprinkled onto prepared food, or they can be consumed with water if they are in capsule form.
Treating Diabetes and Lowering Blood Sugar Levels
Studies have shown that participants with type 2 diabetes had significantly lower blood sugar levels after eating fenugreek. Therefore, a recommended home remedy for treating Type 2 diabetes is to consume 500mg of fenugreek twice daily.
Herbal Cure for Skin Inflammation
A German research group has approved Fenugreek as an effective topical treatment for skin problems such as abscesses, boils, burns, eczema, gout and ulceration of the skin. Therefore, a simple skin inflammation remedy is to take a spoonful of fenugreek and grind it into powder. Mix it with warm water to make a poultice and apply it directly onto the inflamed skin. (A poultice is simply a piece of cloth that has been soaked into the warm water mixture and then applied to the skin).
Natural Cure for Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Fenugreek seeds contain a lot of mucilage, which helps sooth gastrointestinal inflammation by coating the lining of the stomach and intestine. Therefore, for an effective remedy against heartburn or Acid Reflux, simply sprinkle 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds onto your food. Another option is to take one teaspoon of Fenugreek seeds and swallow them with water or juice before you start to eat.
Home Remedy for Fever
The Fenugreek herb has been known to help reduce fever when taken with lemon and honey, since it nourishes the body during an illness. Therefore, to treat a fever, simply consume one to two teaspoons of Fenugreek seeds three times a day along with an herbal tea (such as green tea) with a teaspoon of honey and lemon juice. Some health food stores also sell herbal Fenugreek teas (see below), which can be used instead of the green tea.
Fenugreek is often used in commercial preparations and teas formulated to help balance women's hormones and/or enlarge the breasts. Therefore, a simple remedy is to make Fenugreek a part of your regular diet.
Remedy to Ease Child Birth for Pregnant Women
Fenugreek stimulates uterine contractions and can be helpful to induce childbirth. However, pregnant women should only use Fenugreek for inducing labor after consulting with their doctor.
Remedy to Aid Milk Production in Lactating Women
Since ancient times, Fenugreek has been known to increase milk production in lactating women. Research has even shown that milk production can increase by over 500 percent within 24 to 72 hours after consuming fenugreek. Although it is not known why this happens, researchers speculate that the oil contained in fenugreek seeds plays a role. Therefore, a recommended remedy to increase milk flow is to consume one capsule of fenugreek seed (at least 500mg) three times a day.
What are the Side Effects of Fenugreek?
While Fenugreek is generally considered to be safe, there have been reports of a few minor side-effects. For example, some people have reported that it can make them feel nauseous. High doses of fenugreek seed may also cause gastrointestinal discomfort, including diarrhea and gas. Frequent topical use of fenugreek preparations may cause skin irritation and sensitization. Fenugreek fiber can interfere with the absorption of oral medications because its fiber is mucilaginous (moist and sticky). Therefore, Fenugreek should be taken at least 2 hours before or after other drugs are taken. Fenugreek use during pregnancy is discouraged and should only be taken under a doctor's recommendation (since it can be used to induce labor).
Where and How to Buy Fenugreek
Fenugreek is often available in capsules, seed, and powder form at many health food stores. Fenugreek seeds can also often be found at Indian/Pakistani grocery stores. Recently, a few suppliers have also been offering Fenugreek herbal tea bags.