Monthly Archives: December 2013

Fenugreek seed: General and medical Uses

        Fenugreek seed  is somewhat alien to the majority of Vietnamese, but it is actually very familiar with Vietnamese housewives because they often use curry powder in their dishes. In many parts of the world, fenugreek is not only planted as a food flavor, it is also being used as a vegetable and medicine. Fenugreek is now planted in some regions of Vietnam.

So what kind of plant is fenugreek and what is its history as well as its usage?

1.  Common Names of Fenugreek

Fenugreek (或湖地块三)

Fenugreek (或湖地块三)

–   Marathi: methi
–   Sanskrit: Me Thika
–  Chinese:  或湖地块三
–   English/American: Fenugreek, Bird ‘s foot
–   French: Funugrec
–   German: Bockshornklee
–   Spanish: Alholva
–   Italy: Fieno Greco
–  Japanese: Koroha
–   Scientific name: Trigonella foenum-graecum, family Fabaceea
–   Trigonella means 3 edges, due to the shape its flower
–   Foenum-graecum is the Latin word for the plant that is mixed with poor quality straws to create fragrance. In ancient Greece, fenugreek was mixed with moldy straws damaged by insects, which helps the straws easier to eat. In nature, cattle and horse eat only fenugreek when they are sick.

2.  Fenugreek History

–  Fenugreek is one of the first plants planted by human in the Nile River Valley since 1000 BC
–  Ancient texts found in Egyptian tombs described how fenugreek was cooked for food and how to mix them for medicine (to care for fever). Dry fenugreek seeds were found in the tomb of Tutankhamen. The Egyptians used the plant as a compound for scent and embalming
–  Dried burned fenugreek found in Tell Halal (Iraq) determined by radiocarbon dating shows its existence in about 4000 BC
–  In the history of the Jews, fenugreek was used as a weapon against foreign invaders. In 66-70 AD, the Roman Emperor Titus Flavius Vespasian besieged Jerusalem and ordered his soldiers to level the surrounded walls. The method to defense Jerusalem performed by the people of Jerusalem was to spill boiling water or oil on the invading army who was climbing on the ladder trying to reach the rampart wall top, and according to historian Flavius Josephus, the Jews added fenugreek to the boiling water to make it more slippery for the Roman army.
–  Central Europe: the Benedictins missionaries brought fenugreek to Central Europe since the 9th century.
  China: Fenugreek was brought here since the Sung dynasty (around 1057 AD).

3.     Plant characteristics of fenugreek

Tree and leaves of Fenugreek

Tree and leaves of Fenugreek

  • Life cycle: Fenugreek belong­ to the short-life plant group, which can be harvested within 3-4 months from seeding and each planting can be done up to 3 times
  • Fenugreek belong to the grass group with hairless rounded body, straight upright, and developed root
  • Height: 60-80cm
  • Leaf: consisting of three small obovate to oblong leaflets, short stalk 4-6mm, 1.5-2cm long, 0.5-1cm wide, serrated leaf edges in the upper half, with 4 leaf veins.
  • Flower: pale yellow or white, that grows in leaf axils, solitary or in pairs. Corolla twice as long as calyx.
  • Blooming season is between April and June, growing fruit in July and August
  • Fruit: straight cylindrical, slightly curved, 10-12 cm long, 4-5 mm wide, pointed at the tip, containing 10 to 20 seeds
  • Seeds: light brown or yellow-brown, fusiform, flattened, very hard (3x4mm), multiple edges, and fragrant
  • Fenugreek exporting countries include India, France, Libya, Egypt and Argentina

4. Chemical composition of fenugreek seed.

Fenugreek seed

Fenugreek seed

– Mucus: 2.5 – 45% (including mannogalactans)
–  Protein: 25-30% (amino acids like choline-4-hydrogen xyisoleucine, lysine, tryptophan, histidine, arginine, cystine and tyrosine).
Steroid saponins: 1.2-1.5%
Other sterols: 65%
Volatile oils 0.01%

5. Pharmaceutical properties of fenugreek seed

5.1. Fenugreek and diabetes

–   Experiment on rats:

 + Fenugreek seeds used alone or in combination with vanadate creates a normalization of the glucose-6-phosphatase and fructose-1,6-biphosphatase enzymes in liver and kidney of diabetic mice

  + Fenugreek seeds also help normalize enzyme activities of glyoxalase in rat liver with diabetes (source: Indian Journal of Biology Experimental No: 37-1999).

  + Fenugreek’s ability to reduce sugar level increases when used in coordination. When normal rats and diabetes rats (created with alloxan) were given fenugreek seeds at doses between 2 and 8 g/kg, the glucose lowering effects is very clear. this effect depends on the dose used (source: Journal of Ethnopharmacology No: 75-2001).

– Experiments of sugar level reduction of fenugreek seeds on human with diabetes volunteers:

   + In a clinical trial with observation of 3 ingredients in fenugreek: 6 normal (use fresh nuts, boiled seeds) and 6 patients with diabetes (use fresh and germination seeds), the results showed that fresh germination seed lowers glucose on all 12 people, but boiled seeds had no effect (source: Journal of Food Services Science and Technology No: 33-1996).

   + Another trial on 21 patients with diabetes recorded a 15 gram dose of fenugreek in a meal lower glucose in blood, and does not cause changes in insulin concentrations (source: Nutrition Research No: 16-1996).

   + An experiment of fenugreek seeds on 15 diabetic patients. Results: fenugreek seeds eliminated fat in 10 days, resulting in lower blood glucose (fasting the night before) and decreased glucose excreted through urine up to 64%. This test indicates that the reduction of glucose in blood of fenugreek may be due to the effect of fiber on nutrient absorption of glucose in the intestine and the improvement of insulin (source: Nutrition Research No: 10-1990 and British Journal of Nutrition No: 97-2007).

Fenugreek is also able to reduce some symptoms of diabetes including thirst, frequent urination, weakness and weight loss.

      5.2  Antioxidation: fenugreek chemistry

– Many research in the food industry showed that fenugreek can be effective when used as antioxidant in food preservation. In an experiment, fenugreek’s antioxidant potential is comparable with other antioxidant synthetic substances such as butylated hydroxanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene (source: Meat Science No: 57-2001).

– The antioxidant ability of fenugreek is very effective when use to preserve pork chops (both fresh and frozen meat)

5.3 Liver protection ability of fenugreek

Experiment on mice. Make the mice consume 6g/kg of thenol each day for 60 days: the symptoms of liver damage such as the amount of activity of liver enzymes, reducing of sulfohydryl groups, and increasing of carbonyl protein groups. Results: The polyphenols extracted from fenugreek were research for its ability to prevent the harm of alcohol and fenugreek has similar effect to silymarin (used for comparison), which helps improve liver diseases caused by alcohol (source: Cell Biology and Toxicology No: 24-2008).

5.4   Studies of toxicity and medication doses of fenugreek

– Toxicity: Fenugreek has been used for a long time as food and does not cause any toxic reactions, studies showed.

+ On mice: Let them eat continuously for 90 days with high doses 2-4 times the therapeutic doses, none of which caused harm to liver and blood (source: Phytotherapy Research No: 10-1996).

+ Diabetic patients: Diabetic patients used fenugreek with the doses 25g/day for 24 weeks continuously, and there were no changes in other factors in the activity of the liver, kidney, and blood. However, diabetic patients should inform their treating physician when using more doses of fenugreek to avoid sugar blood level going too low when used in conjunction with other diabetes medicines (source: Nutritional Research No: 16-1996).

– Normal usage of fenugreek seed:  6gram/day

–  Fenugreek in the form of medicine tea: Soak 0.5 gram fenugreek in a 240 mL cold water in 3 hours, then filter and heat it. Drink daily to increase the appetite and the pasty powder putting on the skin help cure skin inflammation.

6. Fenugreek in traditional medicine

– Chinese traditional medicine: Fenugreek is called “Ho lo ba,” with bitter taste, warm characteristic that can “review liver,” disperse coldness and “pointing lead.” It is used to treat kidney weakness situations, stomach pain, intestinal pain, leg swelling, joint pain that causes trouble in movement.

– American tradition medicine: The first immigrants to the new land used fenugreek as a medicine to regulate menstruation.

– Indian traditional medicine:

+ Young branches and leaves with fragrant are used as vegetables.

+ Branches and leaves are pulverized, mixed with water to a paste form to treat burns and put on the scalp to help prevent graying. Leaves are used as a drink to treat dyspepsia and diseases related to bile. Liquid extract from the full fenugreek plant is used to treat white blood cell disorder.

+ Fenugreek seeds have used as spice contest on curry processing. Seeds are used to increase milk in women. In addition, the roasted Fenugreek seeds are crushed to treat dysentery and helminths for child in the Himalayan region.

  7. Fenugreek has used as vegetables and condiments:

– Young shoots of Fenugreek are shredded to mix same as salads dish.
– Fenugreek seeks are yellow on bitter taste which are the main components of Indian curry powder

 8. Ingredient of Fenugreek seeds (within 100 grams)
– Protein: 23 g
– Fiber:  10.07 g
– Fat: 6.41 g
– Calcium: 176 mg
– Iron: 33.53 mg
– Magnesium: 191 mg
– Phosphorus: 296 mg
– Sodium: 67 mg
– Zinc: 2.5mg
– Copper: 1.11 mg
– Manganese: 1.23 mg
– Vitamin C: 3 mg

    Where to buy Funugreek seed?

Fenegreek seed at Southern Food JSC

Fenegreek seed at Southern Food JSC

Southern Food JSC ( provides a large amount of Fenugreek seeds products with clear original suppliers which are ensured to standard packaging. We delivery and always put the customer care service on top and with a desire to bring its performance to consumers such as the highest quality, highest satisfaction…

Price of funugreek seeds:   120,000 VNĐ / 500gram
– Customers who bought large quantities , we will reconsider preferential prices .

Contact to:  Mr Hieu (Cell phone number: 0909 399 480)


Wish you readers – our guests have the basic and clear knowledge about the tree is known in effective treatment of diabetes gradually.


Written by: Phan Thanh Hieu – Engineer (
In the article referenced scientific journals (translated) and the website of Medical Sciences


%d bloggers like this: