Fenugreek

The little Greek warrior: Fenugreek

So, you would like to know more about the health care act by nixing your usual synthetic products. That’s great- but what next?

Encountering a mountain of facts and figures and slopes of misleading information can be an overwhelming change and might divert your switch from synthetic to organic.

You really need help in this department if you do not want to run for hills after absorbing misleading information. When it comes to natural health care products, plants are the powerhouse of ingredients that can make your robust dreams a reality.

In our herbal guide, we are going to tackle an herb today that has a plethora of fringe benefits attributed to its name.

To put it modestly, its fenugreek!

Many of us are familiar with the perks of fenugreek, thanks to our doting grandmas. You will find its use in every single natural product for the amelioration of health.

Owing its rights to Fabaceae family, this herb is cultivated all around the globe as a semiarid crop to take the never-ending advantages of this versatile herb. From being an irresistible spice to a vigorous medicine, this herb has aced all goals up till now and is considered as one of the most multi-skilled heroes.  

Nutrition Facts

Serving size: 1 tablespoon (11.1g)

NameAmountUnit
Water0.98g
Energy150kJ
Protein2.55g
Total lipid (fat)0.712g
Ash0.377g
Carbohydrates6.48g
Fiber2.73g
Calcium19.5g
Iron3.72mg
Magnesium21.2mg
Phosphorus32.9mg
Potassium85.5mg
Sodium7.44mg
Zinc0.28mg
Copper0.123mg
Manganese0.136mg
Selenium0.7µg
Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)0.33mg
Thiamin0.036mg
Riboflavin0.041mg
Niacin0.182mg
Vitamin B-60.067mg
Folate6.33µg
Vitamin A0.333µg
Fatty acid0.162g
Tryptophan0.043g
Threonine0.1g
Isoleucin0.138g
Leucin0.195g
Lysine0.187g
Methionine0.038g
Cysteine0.041g
Phenylalanine0.121g
Tyrosine0.085g
Valine0.122g
Arginine0.274g
Histidine0.074g
Alanine0.113g
Aspartic acido.301g
Glutamic acid0.443g
Glycine0.145g
Proline0.133g
Serine0.135g

Chemical Constituents

Chemical ConstituentsImportance
DiosgeninHypolipidemic and anti-diabetic property
SaponinsHypocholestrolemic action
flavonoidsAntioxidant activity
PolyphenolsAntioxidant activity
GalactomannanAnti-diabetic activity

Without any more delay let’s get to rumble and look into the promising services fenugreek can provide you with.

Galactagogue

After having a little one, many mothers complain about impaired milk flow and there are many obvious reasons attributed to it. Those reasons could be insufficient glandular tissues, PCOS, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, hypertension, any breast surgery, birth control usage, certain medications (like pseudoephedrine, methergine, or bromocriptine), sucking difficulties, and various supplementations.

Fenugreek, however, has been used in a number of geographical regions worldwide as a galactogogue to increase milk supply and is included in numerous proprietary mixtures promoted to increase milk supply. [2]

A study chose 66 mother and infant pairs and they were divided into three groups. [3] The first group received herbal tea with fenugreek, the second group and third group were assigned to placebo and as control respectively. The outcomes were fairly comparable as the group that received herbal tea with fenugreek showed a gain in the weight of babies and facilitated milk production in mothers.

Various studies and reviews also report the usage of fenugreek as a potent galactagogue and in actual too, this herb is fairly utilized by mothers who face this problem.

Anti-heartburn effects

Heartburn is characterized by a burning sensation in the lower chest which commonly occurs due to GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). Persistence of this condition significantly affects the life of the patient. The common causes of heartburn blame the poor lifestyle of the patient. It can occur due to eating way too spicy food, eating too close to bedtime. 

When the esophageal sphincter fails to close completely, there is reflux of food and acid that result in burning sensation. If GERD is left untreated then it can transform into metaplasia of esophagus i.e. replacement of cells.

Other reasons that contribute to the recipe of heartburn include smoking, obesity, high-stress levels, alcoholism, wearing tight clothes and eating a large proportion of meals. [4]

A pregnant woman also experiences heartburns but the reasons that relate to the pregnancy are not similar. It can be due to excessive internal pressure, weight gain, variation in hormonal and stress levels. [4]

Fenugreek, however, can only help if the patient fairly takes the decision of avoiding the triggering factors and adapts a healthy lifestyle.

A pilot study picked subjects of heartburn and administered them with fenugreek fiber product for two weeks. [5] The product was consumed half an hour before every two meals every day. The results manifested by fenugreek products were the same as that of placebo that was ranitidine (75mg twice a day). It can be concluded that fenugreek fiber product can replace other antacids as it was able to produce the efficacy that was up to the mark without any adverse events.

Satiety

Sensory-specific Satiety (SSS) is regulated by habituation. It refers to a decline in pleasantness associated with a portion of food as it is eaten relative to a food that has not been eaten (the ‘eaten’ and ‘uneaten’ foods, respectively). [6]

Both animal and human studies show that repetitive intake of the same food gives rise to it. 

But sometimes satiety plays an important role to curtail the chance of other disorders like obesity, hyperlipidemia, CVD, diabetes, and so forth.

It is good to eat but eating more than your might can result in serious disorders that nobody wants to encounter.

A clinical trial incorporated eighteen healthy obese volunteers in a single-blind, randomized, crossover study of three test breakfasts, containing 0 g (control), 4 g or 8 g of isolated fenugreek fiber. [7] Using visual analog scales (VAS) every 30 min for 3.5 h, subjects recorded ratings of hunger, satiety, fullness and prospective food consumption. The results portrayed that there was a mean increase in satiety and fullness, and reduced ratings of hunger and prospective food consumption. In addition, palatability was significantly reduced with increasing doses of fenugreek fiber.

This shows that fenugreek can be used for weight loss in persons who are not able to control their hunger. 

Gastro-protective

Both Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis when strike the person it results in Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD). Both are characterized by inflammation and lesions in the gastro-intestinal tract. If the condition is not treated then severe bleeding initiates that can further lead to hematuria, hematochezia and even cancer.

The aqueous extract and gel fraction of fenugreek show gastro-protective effect. Fenugreek inhibits the hyper secretion of stomach acid and affects mucosal glycoprotein. The incidence of mucosal injury is also lowered by this versatile herb. 

Various researches have proved that the consumption of gel fraction of the seed of fenugreek is more fruitful than other proton pump inhibitors. [9, 10]

Inflammation

Inflammation is yet another story to begin. Either any infectious agent or injury when encounters your body, your body responds to it in the form of inflammation.

Talking about inflammation directly makes you leap to the subject of immunity.

It’s your immune system that has a plethora of army that is always there to fight for you, no matter what case it is.

But sometimes this immune system becomes the fishing net that grabs you and commences some destructive mechanisms that damage your systems.

Saponins, flavonoids, and alkaloids present in fenugreek can easily face the inflammatory mediators and also produces antipyretic action. A rat model study shows a reduction in edema that was the result of formalin-induced inflammation and hyperthermia. The dose that they received varied from 100 to 200mg/kg of fenugreek extract.
Its active constituent i.e. flavonoid is a potent anti-inflammatory mediator that inhibits COX, LOX, and NO synthesis.

Kills the silent killer

Hypertension is a chief risk that can give rise to the development of further cardiovascular diseases. It is characterized by persistent elevated mean arterial pressure. There are different stages of hypertension given by JNC 7 that are listed below for your knowledge:

  • Normotensive blood pressure: No risk for hypertension (measured as less than 120 mmHg systolic or less than 80 mmHg diastolic) 
    • Prehypertensive blood pressure: At risk for developing hypertension (measured as 120-139 mmHg systolic or 80-89 mmHg diastolic) 
    • Stage 1 hypertension: High blood pressure that may be treated with lifestyle changes or medication (measured as 140-159 mmHg systolic or 90-99 mmHg diastolic) 
    • Stage 2 hypertension: High blood pressure that may require one or two medications (measured as greater than 160 mmHg systolic or higher than 100 mmHg diastolic). This is the most severe form of hypertension. 
    • In the case of comorbidity, or the presence of another chronic illness like diabetes or renal disease, a doctor may categorize a patient as hypertensive even if they are considered pre-hypertensive. 

Fenugreek essential oil when paired with other essential oil is reported to reduce the systolic blood pressure in rats. [11] Another mechanism that is seen to reduce hypertension is by diuresis. The aqueous extract of benzene with fenugreek elevates diuresis which negates the condition of hypervolemia and hypernatremia to lower the blood pressure. [11] 

Boosts testosterone

Another white magic that can be attributed to fenugreek is that it elevates the levels of testosterone.

Reduced levels of testosterone can affect both men and women.

Yes

Women too!

Testosterone is also produced in women but the quantity is lesser than that of men or else, you wouldn’t see many women out there. It would be a man’s world.

It still is a man’s world but the reason for colors in this world is a woman.

Anyways!

Low levels of testosterone can cause impaired sex drive, variation in sleep pattern, infertility, reduced strength, increment in weight, depression, and so forth.

Low levels of testosterone are secondary to other primary diseases such as obesity, compromised liver, and renal functioning, hormonal disorders, and certain medications such as chemotherapeutic agents and narcotics.

Fenugreek is proficient enough to expand the number of testosterone in your body. A double-blind clinical trial elected thirty college-aged men to perform an eight-week session.[12] They were asked to perform four sessions of weight-lifting per day all the while half of them received the placebo while the other half received 500mg of fenugreek per day. It was concluded that 500 mg of fenugreek supplementation significantly affected percent body fat, total testosterone, and bioavailability of testosterone as compared to a placebo in a double-blind fashion. The placebo group was seen to have reduced testosterone levels with 2% decreased fat.

In another double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled study, 60 healthy males (age 25 to 52) were recruited to receive an oral dose of 600mg of fenugreek twice a day. The activity of fenugreek was compared with a placebo and the trial was continued for 6 weeks. Particularly, there was a significant increase in the subdomains of sexual arousal and orgasm. Fenugreek was reported to have increased the strength of muscles, energy and well-being but did not have an effect on mood or sleep. In conclusion, there was a positive effect on libido and testosterone levels.

Further, the administration of fenugreek seeds oil drops, three times daily can surely help with the cause. [13]

Dysmenorrhea

Dysmenorrhea- a word around which the life of women revolves. 

It informally jumps among the circle as cramps and involves episodes of severe pain during menstruation. This debilitating hinders the everyday activities of women including participation in schools, sports, and social life.

Menstruation is a mainstream episode of every woman’s life that is not supposed to hinder their normal activities. However, if there seems to be persistent impairment in their lifestyle due to periods then they definitely need help. 

Persistent dysmenorrhea isn’t something that needs your cold shoulder; it needs treatment without any onset of adverse events.

Fenugreek can be used as a replacement therapy i.e. in place of those colorful painkillers to alleviate the pain. Intake of 1800mg -2700mg of fenugreek powder during the first three days of periods followed by 900mg for the next two days can fairly reduce the pain and remove the obstruction of leading a normal life. [13]

To settle the conclusion, fenugreek has proven itself through the thick and thin. It perceives the disorder from its core and initiates the treatment from scratch to lessen the burden of complications.

All around the world it has been recognized and appreciated due to its soft image that provides a heavenly touch to it. We celebrate the fact that fenugreek is potent to work on its own and it does not need any further additive to bring about the synergism of action. It is an intensely mesmerizing superstar that you will definitely find in the aisles of your favorite supermarket.
And now that you have gone through its medicinal usage, you are definitely not going to question yourself to find misleading answers. 

References

  1. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171324/nutrients
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK501779/
  3. Turkyılmaz, C., Onal, E., Hirfanoglu, I.M., Turan, O., Koç, E., Ergenekon, E. and Atalay, Y., 2011. The effect of galactagogue herbal tea on breast milk production and short-term catch-up of birth weight in the first week of life. The journal of alternative and complementary medicine17(2), pp.139-142.
  4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/heartburn-at-night#causes
  5. DiSilvestro, R.A., Verbruggen, M.A. and Offutt, E.J., 2011. Anti‐heartburn effects of a fenugreek fiber product. Phytotherapy Research25(1), pp.88-91.
  6. Wilkinson, L.L. and Brunstrom, J.M., 2016. Sensory specific satiety: More than ‘just’habituation?. Appetite103, pp.221-228.
  7. Mathern, J.R., Raatz, S.K., Thomas, W. and Slavin, J.L., 2009. Effect of fenugreek fiber on satiety, blood glucose and insulin response and energy intake in obese subjects. Phytotherapy research23(11), pp.1543-1548.
  8. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/304351643_Therapeutic_Importance_of_Fenugreek_Trigonella_foenum-graecum_L_A_Review
  9. Bordia, A., Verma, S.K. and Srivastava, K.C., 1997. Effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc.) and fenugreek (Trigonella foenumgraecum L.) on blood lipids, blood sugar and platelet aggregation in patients with coronary artery disease. Prostaglandins, leukotrienes and essential fatty acids56(5), pp.379-384.
  10. Platel, K. and Srinivasan, K., 2000. Influence of dietary spices and their active principles on pancreatic digestive enzymes in albino rats. Food/Nahrung44(1), pp.42-46.
  11. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/304351643_Therapeutic_Importance_of_Fenugreek_Trigonella_foenum-graecum_L_A_Review
  12. Wilborn, C., Taylor, L., Poole, C., Foster, C., Willoughby, D. and Kreider, R., 2010. Effects of a purported aromatase and 5 α-reductase inhibitor on hormone profiles in college-age men. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism20(6), pp.457-465.
  13. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-733/fenugreek

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