Fenugreek large Fenugreek

fenugreek| Trigonella foenum-graecum

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include fenugreek, methi, birds foot, Greek clover.


Fenugreek is a native of the Mediterranean region and also parts of the middle east and  Asia. Long esteemed by the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians as a reliable and effective medicine as well as a culinary plant, fenugreek seeds were used to treat fevers, as a natural antibiotic and to flavour slightly 'iffy' hay for cattle - foenum graecum means 'Greek hay'. Seeds have been found in archaeological sites dating to 4000 years BC.


The plant is an annual (grows and sets seed in one growing season before dying) and belongs to the Fabiaceae or bean family so is a legume. It germinates rapidly after sowing in March to April (but can be sown up to August) with yellowish or whitish flowers appearing in the summer months and the bean like seed pods forming in late summer. The leaves are borne in groups of 3, closely resembling those of the clovers, trefoils and alfalfa. It can grow up to 2 feet high. The seeds are brownish in colour, rhomboid in shape with a deep furrow on either side. The seeds have a smell similar to maple syrup but they certainly don't taste like maple syrup!

 Organic Fenugreek seed (dried herb) and tincture are available to buy in our herbal shop.



harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

The seeds are generally the parts used as medicine and the pods should be collected when they have dried out a bit and the pods have yellowed. Allow the pods to dry a little further indoors before splitting the pods and collecting the seeds. Again, make sure the seeds are completely dry before storing them in an airtight jar in a cool dark place. As always, label and date them.

The seeds can be used whole in cooking, crushed slightly for use in herbal teas or soaked and mashed into a paste to use as a poultice on skin etc. Powdered seeds can also be made into a paste with the addition of some water or a little oil. Soaked seeds are used in Egypt for treatment of fevers, eaten as a gruel.

Organic Fenugreekl seed (dried herb) and tincture are available to buy in our herbal shop.






therapeutic actions and uses

therapeutic actions and uses

Fenugreek seeds have long been acknowledged by traditional healers as having some profound actions on conditions relating to hormonal imbalances in women. They are also famed for their potent activity on the pancreas and blood sugar levels. Fenugreek leaves are often used for similar effects but mainly as a culinary addition. Their overall action is warming and moistening.


Fenugreek seeds are highly nutritious containing vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12 and a form of vitamin D (similar to cod liver oil) and also contains good amounts of iron, calcium and essential fatty acids. They also contain lecithin which helps dissolve fats and in general promote excretion of wastes via the kidneys, lymphatic system, liver and bowels.


Fenugreek seeds are a highly effective galactagogue, increasing production of breast milk in lactating mothers. A placebo controlled and double blind trial found that drinking 3 cups of fenugreek seed tea daily while feeding an infant. "The results showed that even by the third day, the fenugreek tea enhanced breast milk production by almost twice that of the placebo and control groups. The results also showed that infants whose mothers drank the fenugreek tea not only lost less weight after birth but also regained their birth weight significantly earlier than either of the other 2 groups." http://www.greenfilesjournal.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1317&Itemid=41


They have been shown to sometimes completely eradicate and very often significantly reduce the size of ovarian cysts and can be invaluable in cases of polycystic ovaries (research abstract here). Androgen levels (male hormones) also drop significantly and associated problems such as excess hair growth and acne are also reduced.


Cysts and other infectious conditions involving the accumulations of toxins such as in mumps, herpes (both genital and cold sores), abscess, boils etc can be helped.


Fenugreek seeds may be helpful for some women to regulate menstruation, helping to bring on delayed menses and also regulating and normalising more erratic menstrual cycles.


Cases of vaginitis can also be eased with fenugreek seeds, helping to soothe membranes but clear unwanted mucous discharges also.


A cup of fenugreek seed morning and evening can help to lessen hot flushes and ease other menopausal symptoms.


Many women have become pregnant whilst taking fenugreek seed preparations for hormonal conditions (such as polycystic ovaries) implying that the seeds can in fact increase fertility. The seeds have been promoted for boosting fertility in many middle eastern countries and parts of India for hundreds of years.


Fenugreek seeds often form the major part of successful formulas aimed at increasing breast size and have an old reputation for being aphrodisiac.


Their hormonal action is believed to arise from a hormone pre-cursor called diosgenin which seems to exert a mild oestrogenic activity.Fenugreek seeds may be used to both help prevent and treat certain cancers including breast cancer.  Fenugreeks anti-cancer article.


They are effective for helping the thin and under nourished to gain weight, so can be useful in those who need to gain weight after a long illness for example, those with eating disorders such as anorexia or when convalescing after a long illness.


Seemingly paradoxically, they can be very effective against obesity and help with weight loss! This is possible because fenugreek enhances the uptake of blood sugar into the cells to be burned as fuel and helps improve digestive and metabolic processes. The seeds also significantly lower blood fats and slow weight gain when consuming a high fat or high calorie diet. Read how fenugreek seeds inhibit fat accumulation. There are very effective at lowering high cholesterol levels.


Fenugreek seeds have a protective and performance enhancing action on the pancreas. This means that fenugreek seeds exert a marked effect on reducing blood sugar levels. Insulin resistant diabetes and type 2 diabetes can potentially be controlled effectively. Taking fenugreek seed regularly can also help prevent pre-diabetes developing into full blown diabetes. Interestingly, no blood sugar lowering effects occur if blood sugar levels are normal.


Other metabolic disorders (disorders affecting the break down and assimilation of nutrients, wastes and chemical reactions) may be helped with fenugreek.


Fenugreek seeds are good against depression as they contain substances that inhibit the activity of an enzyme called MAO-A, the enzyme responsible for breaking down some of the brain chemicals that we associate with feeling good. 


Fenugreek can also help to treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) as this condition is often associated with diabetes, insulin resistance, high blood lipids, obesity and rapid weight loss. All of these conditions can benefit from regular doses of fenugreek seed tea.


They can also help to both prevent and reverse the formation of cholesterol based gallstones.


Many herbalists use the seeds to help prevent calcium stones in the kidneys.


Fenugreek seeds could also form a part pf any formulas aimed at preventing and treating osteoporosis or any other bone density related condition such as osteomalacia (skeletal deformities) and osteomyelitis (infectious disorders). Dislocations can also be helped.


The anti-inflammatory action of fenugreek seeds can also be helpful in arthritis and other inflammatory joint conditions.


The seeds can also help to soften and disperse accumulations from an enlarged spleen.


Fenugreek seeds have a beneficial action on the heart and cardiovascular system and act as an anti-coagulant. Therapeutic doses of fenugreek seeds (particularly when combined with garlic) can protect the heart muscle from the deleterious effects of heart attacks. Their anti-coagulant properties mean they can prevent sticky material from clogging up the blood vessels, thereby preventing arthersclerosis, lower cholesterol and blood lipids (fats) to balanced levels and reduce the likelihood of blood clots and embolism.


Fenugreek seeds are also mucilaginous and soothing to irritated tissues both internally and externally. They coat and help heal ulcers (including mouth ulcers) internally and externally.


Due to their mucilage and fibre content fenugreek seeds are a good laxative in constipation where they act as a slimy bulky mass on which the bowel walls can get to work properly. Their soothing action can extend to conditions such as diverticulosis, colitis, irritable bowel and crohns disease. They act as a tonic to the digestive system and can be useful in cases of Giardia, dysentery, diarrhoea, gastritis and gastro-enteritis, the slimy bulking action of the seeds serve to slow down bowel transit time and encourage retention and absorption of nutrients and water, vital in diarrhoeal states.


The seeds can also help with respiratory and chest congestion and for soothing bronchitisdry chronic coughs, whooping cough and sore throats. It helps to produce a healthier less sticky mucous via the lungs and this helps the body to expel the secretions more easily. Cattharal conditions, anywhere in the body can be thinned and remedied with fenugreek seeds. cases of stubborn dry sinusitis can be eased as fenugreek seed will thin and loosen mucous in the sinuses.


The seeds have been used traditionally as a hair tonic for baldness and dandruff, usually simmered, allowed to cool and applied as a poultice to the head.


They can be used as a poultice to soften and help resolution of boils and abscesses and to soothe and heal wounds including fistulas, sores and tumours. Simmer the seeds for 15 minutes then crush into a paste and apply to any kind of swelling or inflammation.


Like many plants, it is considered to have anti-cancer properties.


This link has some great stories on fenugreeks medicinal and nutritional benefits as well as links to how its used in bodybuilding etc. http://www.helladelicious.com/our-food/flavor/2009/05/mankinds-old-friend-fenugreek-methi/


Another link filled with information on the benefits of fenugreek seeds.


And finally, pages of information concerning all things relating to fenugreek from Henriette Kress.






dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions

* Caution must be used when taking alongside blood sugar medications and insulin. Monitor blood sugar levels carefully & regularly and inform your doctor you are taking fenugreek seed as  medication often needs to be decreased when taking fenugreek.   

* Do not use during pregnancy.

* Occasionally, some mother notice digestive symptoms in infants when they take fenugreek seed, constipation and bloating etc. If this happens switch to other milk promoting herbs like holy thistle, fennel seed etc.

* Caution is advised when taking other pharmaceutical drugs such as Warfarin, Heparin, Glipizide or Ticlopidine.

* Caution is advised if taking cholesterol lowering drugs as fenugreek will lower cholesterol further.

* Use with caution in children.

* Can cause gastro-intestinal symptoms such as gas, bloating etc in large doses.



Tincture: 0.25-2 mls up to 3 times daily

Dried herb in tea form: 1 (up to 1.5) teaspoon of crushed seeds per cup, up to 3 cups daily. Seeds should ideally be simmered in water for around 15 minutes and the seeds should not be strained out but rather eaten.

Dried herb in powder form: up to 1 teaspoon, up to 2 times daily, after eating.

The seeds can also be sprouted and eaten for their rich nutrient content.



Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.
* For colic, use as part of formula containing other aromatic seeds such as dill and caraway in infants and only for short periods of a few days.





Child watering plants




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