Fenugreek – A Versatile Plant
Aficionados of world cuisine are familiar with the taste of fenugreek. This versatile plant can be used as both an herb (the leaves) and a spice (the seeds), and can be found in cuisines from India to Ethiopia. It’s a common ingredient in curry. In the cultures that use this herb and spice, it is valued not only for its flavor, but for its health benefits. And knowledge of its benefits has traveled to the Western world, where people are now beginning to popularize the use of herbal supplements containing this ingredient, which is believed to address a diverse range of ailments.
One of the most common uses of fenugreek is to help lactating women to increase their milk supply. Many cultures believe that consuming this plant will help a breastfeeding woman to produce more abundant and nutrient-rich milk for her nursing child. Sometimes, athletes take advantage of the invigorating power of this ingredient as well. It is also believed to help a woman to recover and regain strength after childbirth. In Ethiopia, it is sometimes used as an herbal remedy for diabetes. In India, some women even mix it with yogurt and use it as a homemade hair conditioner.
Medical research has shown that it is indeed an effective galactagogue, and can help to promote milk production in lactating women. Since the seed has such a strong flavor and smell, it is often taken in capsule form. Some women have reported that their milk has a distinct maple syrup flavor after taking this supplement. Preliminary studies may indicate that fenugreek has antiviral properties as well. It has been shown to relieve the symptoms of the common cold in some test subjects. Hopefully, clinical trials will be conducted soon to test the veracity of that application of this versatile plant.
Fenugreek is acknowledged all over the world to be a delicious contribution to many dishes in different cultures. And its power to promote lactation and even to alleviate the metabolic symptoms of diabetes has been proven. Someday soon, it may be discovered that it can be used to relieve the symptoms of or even cure the common cold. We have really only just begun to delve into the health benefits of this unique and useful plant. It’s an herb, it’s a spice, it’s a medicine; and we have only begun to touch the surface of what it can do for human health.