An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.
Fenugreek - Trigonella foenum-graecum - family: Fabaceae (Leguminosae) (Mimosaceae) (Pea Family) (Pulse Family) (Mimosa Family).
This annual plant grows to the height of about three feet. It has small
clover-like bluish-green leaves and produces small yellowish flowers in
the spring and summer. The flowers are followed by long slender pods which
contain a dozen or two triangular-shaped seeds. This is one of the truly
ancient herbs. It was used by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans as
a spice. Its leaves (Methi) are used for cooking in India as a curry flavoring.
The leaves are also traditionally used in the Middle East as a flavoring
in such dishes as stews. The seeds are used in America as a food flavoring
for baked goods, beverages and ice cream. The Food and Drug Administration
has listed Fenugreek as generally accepted as safe (GRAS) as a food additive.
Crushed Fenugreek seeds traditionally were made into a poultice for treating
wounds, skin irritations and whitlows (inflammations of fingernail and surrounding
tissue). Traditional Mediterranean area use of seeds as a remedy for intestinal
gas pains and for hay fever allergies. Modern American folk use as a remedy
for atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, high cholesterol and inflammatory
bowel disease. Approved by German Commission E as a remedy for a poor appetite
and skin inflammation. Some modern studies have shown it to have value for
diabetics in reducing the levels of blood glucose [Murray, Pizzorno]. Also
used as an herbal tea. Seeds have been used in the Mediterranean area as
a remedy for tinnitus. Under the name Methi, Fenugreek has been traditionally
used as one of the Ayurvedic medicinal herbs. Note: avoid use of Fenugreek
during pregnancy or while nursing. Native to Europe, the Mediterranean area
and Asia. Cultivated as an herb for its leaves and seeds in North America.
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Web page last updated on 21 May 2003.