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Fenugreek Seed, whole

Origin- India

Also known as

Trigonella foenum-graecum, Alholva, Bird's Foot, Bockshornklee, Bockshornsame, Chandrika, Foenugraeci Semen, Foenugreek, Greek Clover, Greek Hay, Greek Hay Seed, Hu Lu Ba, Medhika, Methi, Trigonella.


The name fenugreek comes from the Latin term Foenum-graecum, or Greek hay, the plant being used to scent moldy hay. The genus name, Trigonella, is derived from another Greek name denoting "three-angled," from the shape of the "crown" around the seed. Ancient Roman medicine used fenugreek as an aid to male potency. Fenugreek is one of the base ingredients in curry powder and is used extensively in cooking throughout Asia. It is also used as a base for perfumes, soaps, and lotions. In Java, fenugreek is used as a hair tonic and to help cure baldness. It was first introduced into Chinese medicine in the Sung dynasty (circa 1057 C.E.) where it was used for treating kidney complaints, hernia, impotence, and other male related problems.


Arginine, beta-carotene, beta-sitosterol, coumarin, diosgenin, fiber, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), kaempferol, luteolin, magnesium, manganese, niacin, potassium, pyridoxine, quercetin, riboflavin, rutin, sulfur, thiamine, trigonelline, tryptophan, vitexin, vitamin C, zinc.

Parts Used

The fruit or "seeds," dried and used whole or ground.

Typical Preparations

Used in cooking. Usually encapsulated for medicinal use, since the seeds are bitter. Up to 3-1/2 ounces (100 g) of the seeds can be eaten in a single meal without gastrointestinal side effects, but greater amounts provide too much fiber for most people. Also taken as an extract.


In the nineteenth century, Arab physicians would prepare a paste of fenugreek seeds soaked in water as a food for diabetics. Research in the 1990's found that adding an extract equivalent to 1-3 tablespoons of fenugreek seeds to the daily diet of diabetics significantly lowered blood sugars, HbA1C, triglycerides, and total cholesterol while raising HDL ("good") cholesterol?but most North Americans, Australians, and Europeans would find the bitter taste difficult. Encapsulated forms are most easily tolerated. Poultices of fenugreek seeds are a traditional remedy for furuncles, boils, and eczema. Currently, its major use in the US is in imitation maple syrups. The German E commission currently lists it as a way to stimulate the appetite.


If you wish to use fenugreek to lower blood sugars, it is better to use the powder rather than the whole seed. The powder releases more vanadium as it is digested. Avoid fenugreek if you are allergic to chickpeas, and Fenugreek should not be taken medicinally when pregnant, however moderate use in food should be fine.

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.