Habitat : North Africa,
India, cultivated worldwide.
Part Used : Seeds.
It was chosen as an ingredient in
Wonderup because: It contains Flavonoids (phytoestrogens), whose
action in regulating the hormonal production facilitates the development of the mammary
glands which 'feed' on estrogens. Fenugreek seeds have recently obtained some interest as
a source of Diosgenin, which is used in the synthesis of steroid hormones.
It has been known since ancient times for its galactogogue property, since it stimulates mammary glands to produce milk (as a consequence to the stimulation of the secretion of prolactin) in nursing mothers - in all other women the stimulating - or rather, balancing - action on hormones notably contributes to the development of the breast, the main receptor for estrogens in the female body.
Other characteristics and
It's rich in active ingredients, among which lisine, which definitely increases the difficult absorption of calcium, necessary at all ages and especially for women after menopause (lack of calcium can cause ostheoporosis, a severe condition which leads to weaker bones). It also contains linoleic acid, palmitic acid and stearic acid, calcium and iron, group B vitamins, Vitamins A and C.
Components: high nutritional value due to the richness in glucids, protids, nuceloprotids, fosfatilicone and lecitine. Also contains: enzymes, saponins (based mainly on the sapogenins diosgenin and its isomer yamogenin, gitogenin and tigogenin), flavonoids - a group of phytoestrogens (including vitexin and its glycosides and esters, isovitexin, orientin, vicenins 1 and 2, quercetin and luteolin), and minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, easily and fast absorbed iron, potassium, sulphur, silicium).
Also contains steroidal compounds: fenugreekine, a
peptidic ester of a steroidal sapogenin with a antihyperglycemic action (it lowers blood
sugars) and cardiotonic (strengthens the heart) antiphlogistic (anti-inflammatory)
property. The aqueous extract of seeds has been proven to stimulate the uterus and the
intestine with a positive chronotropic effect on the heart (chronotropic: affecting
the time or rate, as the rate of contraction of the heart).
High content in essential aminoacids not easily available in nature, such as Lisine and Triptophane (the quantity of lisine - as high as that in soy - makes it a highly nutritional food).
Furostanic glucodids have a bitter taste and could be the bitter ingredient of the plant. Also contains Alkaloids, Mucilage, Sterols (Cholesterol - the good kind!, Sitosterol, Flavonoids).
Fenugreek seeds have recently obtained some interest as a source of Diosgenin used in the synthesis of steroid hormones. Fenugreek is also:
* tonic and invigorating in anemia and convalescence - antianemic - very used in Italian folk medicine
* cardiotonic - affects endocrine and nervous systems due to its ability to increase tonicity of the heart; generally applied to the effect of digitalis and related drugs.
* stimulates the pancreas and aids digestion
* neuromuscular stimulant, reinforces the bone structure and muscular tissues
* depurative - affects liver and detoxification systems due to its ability to cleanse and purify the system, particularly the blood, by promoting the excretion and removal of waste material.
* antifatigue - affects endocrine system and hormone function as well as nervous system and nerve function due to its ability to prevent and/or relieve fatigue.
* anabolic agent - stimulates muscular growth by promoting the metabolic tranformation of nutrients into building blocks of muscles through molecular synthesis
* anti-hypertensive - affects both the endocrine system and the nervous system due to its ability to prevent and/or treat high blood pressure
* antihyperglycemic - affects endocrine system and hormone function due to its ability to reduce or control high blood sugar, which is predominantly the responsibility of the pancreas. The powder of the seed indeed regulates diabetes in advanced age. This antihyperglicemic action is interesting against acne which is caused by an excess of sugars in follicules causing a growth of patogenic germs.
* anti-inflammatory - affects immune system and reactivity due to its ability to counteract inflammation.
* vulnerary - affects immune system and reactivity due to its ability to heal and treat wounds.
* anti-spasmodic - affects nervous system and nerve function due to its ability to prevent or relieve spasms of muscles.
* emmenagogue - affects endocrine system and hormone function due to its ability to promote or affects the flow of menstrual fluid. Emmenagogues are not to be used during pregnancy in order to avoid a harmful miscarriage.
* haemopoietic - blood forming - helps formation of blood cells
* expectorant - affects immune system and reactivity due to its ability to facilitate the removal of the secretions of the broncho-pulmonary mucous membrane and cause expulsion of mucus from the respiratory tract
The seeds contain phosphoric acid, and, toasted, have been used for centuries as an aphrodisiac.
Contraindications: not to be used during pregnancy as it stimulates uterine contractions.
History and Curiosities:
Mostly renowned for its galactogogue property, it was used for this purpose of stimulating mother's milk in the 19th century in France and was also widely used at the School of Medicine in Salerno. It is also used in the kitchen and as aromatic.
Fenugreek or Trigonella Foenum Graecum Papilionacea is one of the most ancient medicinal plants, used by Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. It is native of the plateau of Erithrea and Ethiopia, in Africa, and has been traditionally used since ancient times, and considered a sacred plant. It was cultivated in Egypt with the name Hilba, in Southern Yemen, India and China with the name Huluba. It is used as food and medicine, as a drink, to add flavor to butter, and in some regions it is used as a beauty cream together with other plants, and also to flavor tobacco or coffee extracts and vanilla.
Fenugreek is a herb that has an ancient history. It was rarely used in Britain during the hay day of herbal medicine due to difficulties in obtaining the spice. Since becoming easily available it has often been overlooked because herbal tradition rarely mentioned it. For a comprehensive discussion of Fenugreek you must refer to an herbal or materia medica of Ayurvedic medicine. Its limited use in Britain demonstrates its value as a vulnerary, healing and reducing inflammation in conditions such as wounds, boils, sores, fistulas and tumors. It can be taken to help bronchitis and gargled to ease sore throats. Its bitterness explains its role in soothing disturbed digestion. It is a strong stimulator of milk production in mothers, for which it is perfectly safe, and has a reputation of stimulating development of the breasts.