Fenugreek is the deliciously warming seed of the Trigonella foenum-graecum plant. It is an often overlooked but highly effective herb when it comes to imbalances of vata and kapha. Not only is it warming, but it also has a sweet taste and a nourishing, unctuous quality, which creates a strong grounding effect in the body.1 This allows fenugreek to have a multitude of uses, both internally and externally! Having some seeds on-hand can prove to be extremely valuable.
Consider these uses.
Brew a Digestive Tea.
Steep 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in a cup of hot water for 5-10 minutes. Because of its warming nature and bitter taste, this seed is an excellent appetite builder and digestive aid. It powerfully moves vata downward, alleviating occasional gas or discomfort. Because it strengthens the central digestive fire, the seeds keep the plasma and blood healthy. Further, because of its fiber content, if the seeds are chewed and eaten after you finish your tea, the fenugreek can keep the body from unnecessarily digesting and absorbing excessive amounts of cholesterol.
Promote Healthy Lactation.
Soak 1–2 teaspoons of seeds overnight and eat the seeds in the morning. For thousands of years, Ayurveda has supported the use of fenugreek to build healthy milk flow in nursing mothers. Modern research shows that this effect is likely attributed to the presence of a phytoestrogens and a compound called diosgenin. In fact, in a blinded placebo controlled study that enrolled 66 nursing mothers, it was found that drinking a tea that contained fenugreek proved to help infants regain their birth weight earlier than those in the control and placebo group. The study also proved to lessen the maximum weight loss in infants in the same group, and increase the amount of measured breast milk volume in the mothers who drank the lactational tea.2
Support a Comfortable Flow.
Make a tea with a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds or sauté a tablespoon of seeds in ghee and add it to your food. The Ayurvedic adage “where there is pain, there is vata” proves to be especially true with female reproductive challenges. The sautéed fenugreek seeds warm vata at its home—the pelvis. The soothing, warming action relaxes and rejuvenates. In a double-blind, randomized placebo controlled trial, 900 mg of fenugreek seed powder given three times daily showed to significantly promote a comfortable cycle.3 Further, the plant contains steroid saponins and isoflavonoids which are a class of phytoestrogens (or plant-derived compounds with estrogenic activity).4
Promote Healthy Bowel Movements.
Soak 1–2 tablespoons of seeds overnight and eat the seeds in the morning. The fiber in fenugreek seeds helps maintain healthy bowel movements, regularity, and complete eliminations. A healthy bowel is central to a healthy body!
Encourage a Healthy Libido.
Sauté a tablespoon of seeds in ghee and take it with a glass of milk before bedtime. In another double blind, randomized placebo controlled study with 60 healthy males, it was found that taking 600 mg of a fenugreek extract for six weeks had a positive effect on self-reported strength, energy, and well-being, as well as sexual arousal and stamina.5 It is the nurturing and grounding aspects of this herb that make it fantastic for reproductive health.
Ease Occasional Back Discomfort.
Soak 1–2 tablespoons of seeds overnight and eat the seeds in the morning or drink as a tea. Because the pelvis and lower back are the seat of vata, this herb, which is so warming and soothing to vata, can do wonders for that occasional back discomfort.
Spice Up Your Meals.
Sauté the seeds in ghee and add as a spice to your food. Fenugreek seeds taste great and they support a robust appetite. The seeds have been used in traditional Indian cooking to add a slight maple syrup taste or a sweet and slightly nutty flavor. Try it the next time you are cooking!
Soothe Your Skin.
Grind the seeds into a powder and make a paste with water and then apply to skin or add the powder to a hot bath. When applied externally, fenugreek can whisk away excess pitta.4 Traditionally, the seeds were made into a poultice or added to a hot bath.
This beautiful herb nourishes tissues and encourages the healthy flow of nutrients and energy throughout the body by keeping channels relaxed and open. Keep it in your kitchen and experiment with it. You will find that this herb and spice supports your body in many ways—so much so that we at Banyan Botanicals decided to add it to our line of herbs and spices. As always, quality is of utmost importance to us, and the fenugreek that we provide is organic, sustainably sourced, and fairly traded.