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.