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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Fenugreek and its medicinal properties

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Fenugreek is a popular plant belonging to family Fabaceae. It is native to South Eastern Europe and West Asia. However, it is grown extensively in India in states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Karnataka. Leaves of Fenugreek are eaten as vegetables. This vegetable is rich in fibre. Thus it helps in relieving constipation. Seeds of Fenugreek are used as condiment.
Fenugreek is differently known in different languages. It is known as Methi (Hindi), Venthayam (Siddha) and Hulba (Unani).It’s botanical name is Trigonella foenum-graecum. Trigonella corniculata (Kasuri methi) is another species of Fenugreek.
About the plant
Fenugreek plant is an annual herb, 30-60 cm in height. The leaves are light green, pinnately trifoliate. Flowers are white or yellowish white and axillary. Fruits are legumes, 5-7.5cm long, narrow, curved, tapering with a slender point and containing 10-20 deeply furrowed seeds per pod.
whole plants of Methi
Fenugreek Plants

Fenugreek seeds are bitter, mucilaginous, aromatic, carminative, tonic, diuretic, thermogenic (warming), galactagogue (stimulates breast milk), astringent (constricts tissues), emollient, anti-rheumatic, CNS depressant and anti-implantation. When dry seeds are soaked in water they become mucilaginous. The seeds contain several Alkaloid, Saponins and Mucilage. Major alkaloids and other compounds contained in the plant are listed below-
Alkaloids: Trimethylamine, Neurin, Trigonelline, Choline, Gentianine, Carpaine and Betain.
Amino acids: Isoleucine, 4-Hydroxyisoleucine, Histidine, Leucine, lysine, L-tryptophan, Argenine.
Saponins: Graecunins, fenugrin B, fenugreekine, trigofoenosides A-G.
Steroidal sapinogens: Yamogenin, diosgenin, smilagenin, sarsasapogenin, tigogenin, neotigogenin, gitogenin, neogitogenin, yuccagenin, saponaretin.
Flavonoids: Quercetin, rutin, vetixin isovetixin.
Fibers: Gum, neutral detergent and Fiber.
Other chemical compounds: Coumarin, lipids, vitamins, minerals; Mucilage 28%; proteins 22%; fixed oil 5%.
Methi ke beej
Seeds of Phenukreek
Antidiabetic and hypoglycaemic effects: Fenugreek seeds have blood sugar lowering effect. This may be due to presence of various Phytochemicals (galactomannan-rich soluble fiber, amino acid 4-hydroxyisoleucine) in seeds. The amino acid present in seeds causes direct pancreatic -cell stimulation. A study of alloxan-induced diabetic mice has shown that the hypoglycaemic activity of dialysed fenugreek seed extract was comparable to that of insulin.

Demulcent: The aqueous extract of fenugreek seeds has demulcent (relieving inflammation or irritation) properties. In an experiment done on rats, it promoted healing of gastric ulcers. It also exhibited a smooth muscle relaxing effect in rabbits without affecting either the heart or blood pressure.

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