Botanical name – Trigonella foenum-graecum
Family – Leguminosae
English – Fenugreek seeds
Hindi – Methi
Sanskrit – Methika
Parts used – Whole plant
- India is the largest Fenugreek producer in the world. It originated from South-Eastern Europe and Western Asia, in North Africa it has been grown for fodder in Saharan oases from very early times.
- Fenugreek is widespread in India and neighbouring countries, in Northern Africa, Near East, Western Asia, Ethiopia, Chile, Argentina, China and the USA. In the semi-arid regions of North America it is considered a high yielding niche crop. In Europe, it is grown in Austria, Belgium, France, Hungary and Spain.
- Fenugreek is naturally found in field verges, uncultivated ground, dry grasslands and hillsides in semi-highland and highland regions.
- Fenugreek is grown as a cool season crop in India and the Mediterranean region, both irrigated and as a rainfed crop.
- Fenugreek optimally grows in places where annual temperatures are in the range of 8-27°C and where annual rainfall is between 400-1500 mm, it is a full-sunlight species.
- Diosgenincomponent has been found in the oily embryo of fenugreek. There are two furastanol glycosides, F-ring opened precursors of diosgenin that have been reported in fenugreek also as Hederagin glycosides. Alkaloids such as Trigocoumarin, Nicotinic acid, Trimethyl coumarin and Trigonelline are present in stem.
Uses of Methi
Fenugreek seeds, leaves, and its extracts act as anti-diabetic agents. Plasma glucose level is reduced by the oral administration of fenugreek seed powder.
the aqueous extract of fenugreek seeds was able to reduce blood glucose in glucose tolerance test in subdiabetic and moderately diabetic individuals.
The extract of fenugreek in a dose-dependent manner was able to inhibit α-amylase activity. A further in vivo study concluded and confirmed in vitro inhibition as it showed suppression of starch digestion and absorption, suggesting that the hypoglycemic effect of the used plant extract was mediated through insulin-mimetic effect.
One study concluded that on consecutive consumption of fenugreek seeds, serum total cholesterol, LDL and VLDL cholesterol, and triglycerides were significantly reduced but no effect on HDL cholesterol levels was found.The important constituents that are found to be responsible for generating the antidiabetic effects are Galactomannan rich soluble fiber fraction, Saponin, and an amino acid called 4-hydroxyleucine which helped in increasing insulin levels.
The methanolic seed extract of fenugreek seeds are able to quench the free radicals. The polyphenol extracts of Fenugreek seeds showed a significant reduction in the levels of lipid peroxidation products and protein carbonyl content. There was an increase in the activities of antioxidant enzymes along with restoration of the levels of thiol groups. The aqueous extract of fenugreek seeds resulted in an increase of antioxidant level and prevented further rise in lipid peroxidation. The administration of aqueous seed extract could result in prevention of the enzymatic leakage and the rise in lipid peroxidation and enhancement of the antioxidant potential. The ability of fenugreek extracts to quench radicals are due to the presence of flavonoids and phenolic compounds.
Fenugreek seed administration and its extracts significantly decreases plasma cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL cholesterol. Isolation of a compound named GII from the seed extract of fenugreek with water was found to alter the level of serum lipids. GII was able to reduce the total cholesterol level and increase HDL cholesterol which is an indicator of good cholesterol. There was a reduction in triacylglycerols, phospholipids, and free fatty acids. The chemical constituents responsible for the activity are Saponins, specifically Diosgenin, Galactomannan, and Fiber.
The main chemical constituents responsible for the anti-inflammatory activity of Fenugreek seeds are Alkaloids, Saponins, and Flavonoids. Production of inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1, IL-6, and TNF-α was initiated using phorbol myristate acetate. Inhibitory action of Fenugreek extract with methanol as a solvent system was observed with suppression in TNF-α production. The aqueous extract of fenugreek seeds showed the antiulcer activity. The protective activity of the extract against ulcer could be attributed to its known antioxidant activity. Not only seeds but also antipyretic and anti-inflammatory activity of the leaves of T. foenum-graecum have been reported. The anti-inflammatory activity of a bioactive compound isolated from fenugreek seed and leaves extracts and its aqueous extracts both in in vivo and in in vitro systems. It was observed that chloroform fraction of seeds and aqueous extract of leaves of fenugreek were effective against anti-inflammatory activity.
The Gastroprotective activity was observed in the oil extracted from fenugreek seed. The incidence of gastric ulceration, mean ulcer score, and ulcer index were found be significantly decreased. One of the studies reveals protective effect of aqueous extract of fenugreek seed against reflux esophagitis.