Scientific name: Trigonella foenum-graecum

Common names: Fenugreek

Ayurvedic names: medhika 

Chinese names: hu lu ba

Bangladesh names: Methi

Arabic names:    الحلبه (al halebah)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Papilionaceae

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Seed, sprout

Collection: The seeds are collected in Autumn

Annual/Perennial: Annual

Height: Up to 4-7 feet

Actions:  Demulcent, emmenagogue, emollient, expectorant, febrifuge, galactogogue, restorative tonic, vulnerary, mucilaginous

tap root picture

Known Constituents: Alkaloids, bitter, upto 30% mucilage, saponins including diosgenin, iron

Constituents Explained:


The flavour has been compared to licorice or anise.  The taproot sends up a round stem with only a fe branches.  The leaves are trifolate (picture) o hairy petioles (picture) with obovate leaflets (picture).  Flowers are axillary (picture) and yellowish-white. The fruit has 16 seeds and is a legume.

Traditional Use:

Its use goes back to the ancient times. Seeds Oil is mentioned in Ancient Egyptian receipts as a treatment for wrinkles. In the Arab’s Golden Ages it was used for respiratory diseases, gastrointestinal gases and dysmeorrhea. Also recorded to be used for piles, constipation and obstructed labour.

Seeds powder is mixed with water and used externally to reduce inflammation and upon wounds, swellings, burns, acne 

Seeds also can be boiled and given to: adolescent girls to enhance their growth and increase body weight and to lactating mother to enhance her breast milk and increase breast size. It is also used as an oral contraceptive, to restore hair growth, and as an aphrodisiac.

It’s also a treatment for male impotence and enhance male and female sexual functions.

The seeds are often ground up or roasted and used in seasong foods, or to make things sweeter.

Has undergone many trials for its successful, rapid, and sometimes extreme lowering of blood sugar levels.  Its also employed in cases where cholesterol needs to be lowered. Many of these trials used 5-100g a day.

As a poultice it has been used on everything from arthritis, gout and tumours.  When the seeds are soaked they are sometimes used in skin softening agents. The seeds have been used as a general tonic, recovery from respiratory system conditions.

It’s rcently become popular as an anti exessive blodo sugar herb, and i’s efficiacy for blood hyper chloesterol lowerting functions has been assessed.

It’s been studied for it’s potential in gastric ulcer, and is been traditionally used when a herb is indicated for the stomach.

It’s been thought of as a reproductive builder.

Believed to be used as a hypo glycemic.

Clinical Studies:

Fenugreek seeds (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) have long been used as a herbal medicine for treating metabolic and nutritive dysfunctions. They have been shown to modulate feeding behaviour in animals. 

A study observed a selective decrease in fat consumption in healthy normal weight volunteers treated with a hydro-alcoholic seed extract. However, strong clinical data on the effects of fenugreek seeds on energy intake are lacking, especially in overweight individuals.

The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of a repeated administration of a fenugreek seed extract on the eating behaviour of overweight subjects. 

Thirty-nine healthy overweight male volunteers completed a 6-week double-blind randomized placebo-controlled parallel trial of a fixed dose of a fenugreek seed extract. Main endpoints were energy intake (dietary records and meal test), weight, fasting and post-absorptive glucose and insulin, appetite/satiety scores and oxidative parameters.

Daily fat consumption, expressed as the ratio fat reported energy intake/total energy expenditure, was significantly decreased in our overweight subjects administered the fenugreek seed extract relative to those receiving the placebo.

A significant decrease in the insulin/glucose ratio in subjects treated with fenugreek seed extract relative to the placebo group  was also observed. No significant effect was observed on weight, appetite/satiety scores or oxidative parameters.

The repeated administration of a fenugreek seed extract slightly but significantly decreased dietary fat consumption in healthy overweight subjects in this short-term study.

Another study evaluated the effects of Trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek) seeds on glycemic control and insulin resistance, determined by HOMA model, in mild to moderate type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Twenty five newly diagnosed patients with type 2 diabetes (fasting glucose < 200 mg/dl) were randomly divided into two groups. Group l received 1 gm/day hydroalcoholic extract of fenugreek seeds and Group II received usual care (dietary control, exercise) and placebo capsules for two months.

At baseline both the groups were similar in anthropometric and clinical variables. Oral glucose tolerance test, lipid levels, fasting C-peptide, glycosylated haemoglobin, and HOMA-model insulin resistance were also similar at baseline.

In group 1 as compared to group 2 at the end of two months, fasting blood glucose and two hour postglucose blood glucose were not different. But area under curve (AUC) of blood glucose as well as insulin was significantly lower.

OMA model derived insulin resistance showed a decrease in percent beta-cell secretion in group 1 as compared to group 2 and increase in percent insulin sensitivity. Serum triglycerides decreased and HDL cholesterol increased significantly in group 1 as compared to group 2.

Adjunct use of fenugreek seeds improves glycemic control and decreases insulin resistance in mild type-2 diabetic patients. There is also a favourable effect on hypertriglyceridemia.

Chevassus H, Gaillard JB, Farret A, Costa F, Gabillaud I, Mas E, Dupuy AM, Michel F, Cantie C, Renard E, Galtier F, Petit P. “A Fenugreek Seed Extract Selectively Reduces Spontaneous Fat Intake In Overweight Subjects.” 2010 May http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20020282

Gupta A, Gupta R, Lal B. “Effect Of Trigonella Foenum-Greacum (Fenugreek) Seeds On Glycemic Control And Insulin Resistance In Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study.” 2001 November http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11868855

Fenugreek and rancidity

Ground beef patties (75% lean) containing synthetic antioxidants, or Fenugreek (Trigonella foenumgraecum) extracts were cooked to internal temperature 70°C, and evaluated for storage stability at 4°C. Thiobarbituric acid values of raw or cooked samples containing fenugreek extracts were lower than controls (P<0.05). Fenugreek extracts delayed the induction period of oxidative rancidity.


The hypoglycaemic activity of fenugreek seeds (Trigonella foenum graecum) in experimental animals and humans has been well documented. Fenugreek has been shown to reduce fasting and postprandial blood glucose levels in diabetic patients. However, it is not clear whether the improvement in glucose tolerance is due to the effect of fenugreek on the absorption or metabolism of glucose. A metabolic study was carried out, and diets with or without 25 g fenugreek were given randomly to 10 non-insulin dependent diabetics, each for 15 days, in a crossover design. An intravenous glucose tolerance test (GTT) at the end of each study period indicated that fenugreek in the diet significantly reduced the area under the plasma glucose curve (AUC), half-life, and increased the metabolic clearance rate. In addition, it increased erythrocyte insulin receptors. These results suggest that fenugreek can improve peripheral glucose utilization which contributes to an improvement in glucose tolerance. Thus, fenugreek may exert its hypoglycaemic effect by acting at the insulin receptor as well as at the gastrointestinal level.


Steroid Saponins in Fenugreek and effect on hunger and cholesterol

The seeds of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum graecum L.) are traditionally assumed to have restorative properties. We have recently shown that a fenugreek seed extract containing steroid saponins increased food consumption and induced hypocholesterolemia in rats. This study aims to investigate the specific role of purified steroid saponins in these properties. For this purpose, an original technique for extraction and purification of steroid saponins was carried out. Thereafter, the effects of these steroid saponins were investigated on feeding behavior and metabolic endocrine changes in normal and diabetic rats. All the steroid saponins (furostanol type) were extracted from the seeds and separated from all other constituents of the entire extract by using several purification procedures to give an extract containing at least 90% of steroid saponins. Pharmacological experiments were performed in vivo in normal and streptozotocin diabetic rats: steroid saponins were administered chronically mixed with food (12.5 mg/day per 300 g body weight). Our data show that the treatment with steroid saponins significantly increased food intake and the motivation to eat in normal rats, while modifying the circadian rhythm of feeding behavior; it also stabilized the food consumption in diabetic rats, which resulted in a progressive weight gain in these animals, in contrast to untreated diabetic controls. Both in normal and diabetic rats, steroid saponins decreased total plasma cholesterol without any change in triglycerides. In conclusion, the present work reports a clear methodology to obtain all the steroid saponins and demonstrates that these saponins enhance food consumption and motivation to eat, and reduce plasma cholesterol levels in rats.


The results show that chronic oral administration of the fenugreek extract significantly increases food intake and the motivation to eat. 


Fenugreek and blood sugar


Fenugreek and blood sugar


Fenugreek and gastric ulcer

 Histological studies revealed that the soluble gel fraction derived from the seeds was more effective than omeprazole in preventing lesion formation. These observations show that fenugreek seeds possess antiulcer potential.


Fenugreek as an antio oxdiant in diabetic rats


Fenugreek on blood glucose, liver glycogen and kidney glycogen

Administration of Fenugreek extract to STZ-diabetic rats reduced blood glucose level by 58%, restored liver glycogen content and significantly decreased kidney glycogen as well as liver glucose-6-phosphatase activity.