Herbs Profile

Fenugreek (Methi)

methika_ayurveda

Fenugreek is a very warming seed that benefits kapha and vata. It is used to treat constipation, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. Its smell is very pungent, and it is a nourishing seed.

Common name Fenugreek (E), Methi (H) Sanskrit Methika- Latin Trigonella foenum-graecum–Semen (Fabaceae)

ENERGETICS

  • Rasa (taste) Pungent, astringent, bitter, sweet
  • Vırya (energy) Hot
  • Vipaka (post-digestive effect) Pungent
  • Guna (quality) Light, unctuous
  • Dosa effect VK–, P+
  • Dhatu (tissue) Plasma, blood, fat, bone, nerve, reproductive
  • Srotas (channel) Digestive, excretory, water, sweat, respiratory, reproductive, lactation

CONSTITUENTS

  • Saponins Diosgenin
  • Coumarins
  • Flavonoids Quercetin, lilyn, kaempferol
  • Alkaloids Trigonelline, lecithin, mucilage (Williamson 2002)

AYURVEDIC ACTION

  • Dıpana Appetite builder
  • Pacana Digestive
  • Anulomana Encourages vata to move downwards
  • Virecana Mild laxative
  • Vatakaphaghna Alleviates vata and kapha
  • Pramehaghna Alleviates symptoms of diabetes

BIOMEDICAL ACTION

Carminative, cholesterolaemic, bulk laxative, antidiabetic, demulcent, expectorant, diuretic, diaphoretic, aphrodisiac

INDICATIONS

Diabetes Its beneficial effect on the water channels (ambuvahasrotas) and the urinary system (mutravahasrotas) indicate its use in diabetes. It can help to clear some of the fatty deposits that accumulate in the channels that should be nourishing to the pancreas. It helps to balance sugar levels in both types 1 and 2 diabetes. The active components are found in the trigonelline and coumarin content. Clinically effective trials have used 50g per day of the defatted seeds (Murray 1992).

Cholesterol Its direct action on medovahasrotas makes it useful as part of a formula to reduce cholesterol. Use 10–20g per day to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels (Murray 1992).

Digestion It is an invaluable remedy to treat sluggish and gaseous digestion from impaired kapha and vata. It can benefit diarrhea and inflammation in the intestines. Its high mucilage content acts as a soothing demulcent that can heal ulcers and also increase the bulk of the stool; it is a useful mild laxative. Its bitter quality helps the liver function and improves assimilation of nutrients (Frawley & Lad 1994).

Gynaecology Fenugreek seed has a particular affinity for the uterus and female reproductive system as a whole. Its saponin containing phyto-estrogen precursor, diosgenin, plays an important role in female health. It is taken post-partum to encourage bowel movements and clean the uterus. Its nourishing effect on rasa dhatu also helps to encourage a healthy flow of breast milk. If there is dysmenorrhoea its warming effect and stagnation reducing properties are beneficial (Gogte 2000).

Reproduction Used in formulas to treat impotence, premature ejaculation and low libido (Bensky & Gamble 1993). Its heating energetics stimulate the reproductive system, while its unctuousness and sweet nature nourish sukra dhatu.

Pain As a superb remedy to settle vata it is indicated in lower  back problems, sciatica and arthritis with swelling and pain. A notable diagnostic clue is the sensation of cold on the back and thighs (Bensky & Gamble 1993). Its ability to strengthen asthi dhatu indicates its use in osteoporosis, back pain, structural weaknesses and hair loss.

External A poultice made from the powder is very useful for drawing  infections, boils, splinters and arthritic swelling from the body.

COMBINATIONS

* Gurmar, turmeric, neem, trikatu in diabetes.

* Guggulu, turmeric in high cholesterol.

* Fennel, cumin, coriander for bloating and constipation.

* Ashoka, shatavari for menstrual problems.

* Shatavari, fennel for milk production.

* Nutmeg, ashwagandha, kapikacchu, bala for male reproductive problems.

* Punarnava, guggulu, trikatu for swollen arthritic conditions.

CONTRAINDICATIONS

High pitta.

SAFETY

As a known hypoglycaemic there may be a positive interaction and it is advisable to monitor patients on diabetic medication. The claims that

fenugreek interacts with warfarin appear to be mistaken, but it does appear to inhibit iron absorption at a high dosage (Bone 2003)

DOSAGE

2–50g per day or 3–30ml per day of a 1:3 @ 45% tincture.

NOTES

  • Fenugreek grows wild as a small, leafy shrub in the north of India but is now cultivated everywhere as an annual crop.
  • The leaves are a delicious vegetable.
  • It enters the sweat channels and its characteristic aroma is soon noticeable on the body odour.
  • It is part of a famous formula known as caturbıja. This contains fenugreek,
  • chandrashura (Lepidium sativum), krishna jiraka (Nigella sativa) and yavani.

About the author

Dr. Ram Mani Bhandari

Experienced holistic doctor, healer, teacher, and writer
Specialized in Ayurvedic detox (Panchakarma)
Trained in India and Nepal, the original lands of Ayurveda
Graduate in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (B.A.M.S.) from the Institute of Medicine at Tribhuwan University in Kathmandu.
Professional member of Australasian Association of Ayurveda (AAA)
Owner of Sunshine Ayurveda

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