Other Common Names:
The other common herbs for the herb fenugreek are Greek hay,lholva, Bird's Foot, Boyotu, Chinagreye, Fenegriek, Fenugreek, Foenum Graecum, Greek Hay-seed, Halva, Helba, Hu Lu Pa, K'U Tou, Kelabat, Koroha, Methi, Shimli, Sickle-fruit Fenugreek and Sicklefruit Fenugreek.
Used since ancient times in Egypt, Greece and Rome, fenugreek seeds were said to be almost a panacea (good for everything). Traditional uses included bronchial problems, tuberculosis, gout, general body pain, swollen glands, skin problems and low libido. A wide range of uses were found for fenugreek in ancient times. Medicinally it was used for the treatment of wounds, abscesses, arthritis, bronchitis, and digestive problems.
Traditional Chinese herbalists used it for kidney problems and conditions affecting the male reproductive tract. Fenugreek was, and re-mains, a food and a spice commonly eaten in many parts of the world. The name comes from Foenum-graecum, meaning Greek Hay, the plant being used to scent inferior hay. The name of the genus, Trigonella, is derived from the old Greek name, denoting 'three-angled,' from the form of its corolla. The seeds of Fenugreek have been used medicinally all through the ages and were held in high repute among the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans for medicinal and culinary purposes.
This is an annual herb, about two feet (60 cm) high, with tender stalks, yellow or pale whitish flowers and yellowish seeds. Also called Greek Hayes. The plant grows to a height of about three feet, has three part leaves, and yellow-white pea-like flowers. The hard, brown, red and yellow seeds are the part used medicinally and in cooking.
Fenugreek is an erect annual herb, growing about 2 feet high, similar in habit to Lucerne. The seeds are brownish, about 1/8 inch long, oblong, rhomboidal, with a deep furrow dividing them into two unequal lobes. They are contained, ten to twenty together, in long, narrow, sickle-like pods. Taste, bitter and peculiar, not unlike lovage or celery. Odour, similar.
Although originally from southeastern Europe and western Asia, fenugreek grows today in many parts of the world, including India, northern Africa, Egypt, Morocco and the United States.
It is grown in gardens, but is mainly found in the Middle East and Mediterranean.
Fenugreek is best grown as an annual crop from seeds which are sown following the line sowing method. The land should be prepared but related ploughiong and harrowing.For an irrigated crop irrigation channels are made along the alternate rows of bed. The seeds should be treated with rhizobium culture before sowing. The seeds germinate within 6-8 days after sowing. The line sown crop is thinned within the row at the 3 to 4 leaf stage to retain 1-2 plants per hill. The number of irrigation required depends upon the type of the soil and evapo transpiration potential prevailing during the season. two hoeings and weedings are enough to keep the crop well aerrated and weed free.
The seeds of the
fenugreek are the most
commonly used part for
its medicinal value.
The flowering season for the herb fenugreek is generally midsummer.
Pests and Diseases
Generally fenugreek is little subjected to pests and fungal diseases. A number of investigators have reported the appearance in fenugreek crops of some pest enemies and fungal, bacterial and viral diseases. Fenugreek appears very resistant to attacks by insects and animal enemies and no serious damage in the plant. It is also characteristic that in stored seeds of fenugreek more than ten years without any treatment one did not notice any attack. The peculiar smell of the fenugreek plants and seeds may be a possible factor for their resistance to the attack of insects.
• It is good for women afflicted with an imposthurne, ulcer, or stoppage in the matrix, to sit in a decoction of the seeds. A suppository made of the juice, and conveyed to the neck of the matrix, will mollify and soften all hardness thereof.
• Poultices are made from the powdered seeds to which powdered charcoal can be added. They are effective for wounds, ulcers and boils.
• Fenugreek tea made from the seeds is used as a gargle in sore throats and for fevers. The drink is mucilaginous, nutritious, and soothing to the intestinal canal.
• The seeds are rich in dietary fiber, which may be the main reason it can lower blood sugar levels in diabetes.
• Fenugreek is useful for atherosclerosis, constipation, diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertriglyceridemia.
• Externally it is used as a poultice for abscesses, boils, carbuncles, etc.
• It can be employed as a substitute for cod-liver oil in scrofula, rickets, anemia, debility following infectious diseases.
• For neurasthenia, gout and diabetes it can be combined with insulin.
• Fenugreek has a long history of medical uses in Indian and Chinese medicine, and has been used for numerous indications, including labor induction, aiding digestion, and as a general tonic to improve metabolism and health.
• The seeds are soaked in water, then allowed to sprout, and when grown about 2 or 3 inches high, the green eaten raw with the seeds.
• The seeds yield the whole of their odor and taste to alcohol and are employed in the preparation of emollient cataplasms, ointments and plasters.
• The ground seeds are used also to give a maple-flavouring to confectionery and nearly all cattle like the flavour of Fenugreek in their forage.
• The powder is also employed as a spice in curry.
• At the present day, the ground seeds are utilized to an enormous extent in the manufactures of condition powders for horses and cattle.
• Fenugreek is the principal ingredient in most of the quack nostrums which find so much favour among grooms and horsekeepers.
• It has a powerful odour of coumarin and is largely used for flavouring cattle foods and to make damaged hay palatable.
• In India the fresh plant is employed as an esculent.
• Fenugreek is a common ingredient of curry powder. Used in oriental sauces, soups, stews, and for seasoning and preserving butter.
• Enjoys much commercial use for making imitation maple, vanilla, caramel and butterscotch flavors.
• The young leaves and sprouts of fenugreek are eaten as greens, and the fresh or dried leaves are used to flavor other dishes.
• In India, fenugreek seeds are mixed with yogurt and used as a conditioner for hair.
• In Egypt, fenugreek seeds are prepared as tea, by being boiled then sweetened. This is a popular winter drink served in coffee shops.
• In the United States, where maple syrup is popular, fenugreek is widely used as a substitute for maple syrup flavoring.