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Methi (Fenugreek): Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, and More!

By Dr Rajeev Singh +2 more

Introduction

Trigonella foenum-graecum or Methi (fenugreek) is one of the oldest traditional medicinal plants belonging to the Fabaceae family. It is cultivated in the Indian subcontinent, North Africa, and the Mediterranean region. Methi is used in many forms, such as herb (dried leaves), fresh leaves (vegetables), and spice (seeds).1 Fenugreek is nutritious, Trigonella foenum-graecum or Methi (fenugreek) is one of the oldest traditional medicinal plants belonging to the Fabaceae family. It is cultivated in the Indian subcontinent, North Africa, and the Mediterranean region. Methi is used in many forms, such as herb (dried leaves), fresh leaves (vegetables), and spice (seeds).1 Fenugreek is nutritious, functional, and nutraceutical in nature. All these traits make fenugreek a well-known spice crop used in human diets.2

Did you know?

fenugreek seeds benefits

  • Fenugreek has been used in traditional medicine to help manage diabetes and lower blood sugar levels. source: NCCIH
  • Fenugreek may help improve milk production in breastfeeding women. source: NCCIH
  • Fenugreek seeds are a good source of iron, with 100 grams containing 33% of the recommended daily intake. Source: fdc.nal.usda.gov

Nutritional Value

Fenugreek is a rich source of dietary fibres and other nutrients needed for proper growth.  Fenugreek is also rich in several phytochemicals such as alkaloids, carbohydrates, amino acids, minerals and steroidal saponins.2

Nutritional value of Methi (fenugreek):

NutrientValue
Carbohydrates58%
Proteins23%-26%
Fats0.9%
Fibres25%

                                          Table 1: Nutritional value of Methi (fenugreek seeds)2

In addition, Methi also contains minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, and manganese. Beta carotene and Vitamin C are considered as essential components of Methi.2

I have got some awesome news for all the new moms. A study found that drinking herbal tea with methi seeds might help boost your breast milk production and may help your little one gain more weight. It might be a magical potion that makes your milk flow and your baby grow.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Also Read: Karela Juice: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Properties of Methi

Methi possesses many properties, as mentioned below.

  • It may show an antioxidant property.3
  • It may show liver protection property
  • It may help in reducing inflammation
  • It may show antiulcer property   
  • It may show anticancer property
  • It may show antibacterial property
  • It may show neuroprotective (protective of neurons) properties.1     

Potential Uses of Methi

In my point of view, methi seed supplements might be a game-changer! In a study, it was observed that it may help build muscle, burn fat, and boost your body’s hormone levels. Plus, they were found to be safe!

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Because of a wide variety of active phytochemicals, methi may show potential uses against many disease conditions. Some of the potential uses of methi are mentioned below.

Potential uses of methi in controlling arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a disease that affects the joints by causing chronic inflammation, characterised by tissue injury and synovial proliferation. As per animal studies, supplementing fenugreek mucilage could inhibit oedema by lowering the activity of inflammatory enzymes.2 Properties of fenugreek may help in managing arthritis symptoms. However, you must strictly adhere to the doctor’s advice and treatment when dealing with arthritis. Reach out to your healthcare provider before using any herbal remedy.

Potential uses of methi in cancer

I would suggest a methi-based product if you’re looking for a natural way to reduce heartburn. A pilot study found that taking a Methi-based fibrous supplement before meals may help reduce the severity of frequent heartburn. It might even work as well as an over-the-counter antacid medication.

Dr. Smita Barode, B.A.M.S, M.S. 

A compound called protodioscin in methi could show anticancer properties against cancer cell lines. Fenugreek extract also showed inhibition of the growth of breast and pancreatic cancer cell lines in studies. As per animal studies, the administration of fenugreek extracts also reduced tumour cell growth.2 However, more research is required to support the use of fenugreek against cancer in humans. Therefore, fenugreek should not be used against cancer without consulting a healthcare provider first.

Potential uses of methi in gastric ulcers

I would recommend methi seed powder to tackle period discomfort. Studies suggest that it may help reduce the severity of period cramps. Thus, it might be a natural and effective way to reduce menstrual pain.

Dr. Anuja Bodhare, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

The gel fraction of fenugreek may help avoid gastric lesions. The stomach protective benefit of fenugreek might be due to the presence of flavonoids and polysaccharides in the gel portion of fenugreek. In addition, the anti-secretory activity of fenugreek might play a protective role against ulcers.2 However, if you are struggling with stomach problems like ulcers, talk to your doctor and get a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Potential uses of methi in brain disorders  

The bioactive components present in methi might be effective against neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression. For example, fenugreek extract may help lessen depression as it inhibits the activity of the monoamine oxidase enzyme. In addition, components like flavonoids present in fenugreek might help reduce behavioural abnormalities by positively altering the pathways and expressions of proteins and enzymes.2 However, any brain disorders should be met with proper diagnosis and treatment. If you are having trouble with any brain functions, talk to your healthcare provider and receive help.

Potential uses of methi in asthma

Asthma is a lung disorder characterised by inflamed airways that restrict the pathway for inhalation and exhalation. According to a study, fenugreek extract was effective in treating mild asthma and can be recommended as adjuvant therapy. Daily use of methi may help avoid the symptoms of asthma.2 However, do not use methi as an alternative to asthma treatment. You should talk to a qualified physician before making any decisions.

Potential uses of methi in obesity

Methi may help manage weight without any significant side effects. Many animal studies have shown the effectiveness of methi in weight loss. Methi’s high amount of fibre might help suppress hunger, amplified in obese patients. Consumption of methi powder was found to be helpful in reducing weight as per animal studies. The galactomannan present in methi seeds may help in excreting the sugars from the body before they are absorbed in the blood.2 However, before making any changes to your diet, you are advised to talk to your healthcare provider or dietician.

Potential uses of Methi in diabetes

Methi may be helpful in diabetes as it increases insulin sensitivity by controlling the glucose transporters and signaling transduction in the liver and adipose tissue. According to animal studies, intake of Methi increased the levels of glucose transporter-2 and 4 in the liver and adipose tissue. Methi might help improve the condition of insulin resistance. It may also help the liver to perform better.2 Diabetes is a serious health condition that requires you to adhere to a doctor’s advice and treatment. You should talk to a healthcare provider before taking any herbal remedies for diabetes.

Potential uses of Methi for liver

Extract of the fenugreek seeds may provide protective benefits against alcohol-induced liver damage. Polyphenolic compounds present in the extract may show liver-protective benefits. The fenugreek seeds might help protect the liver cells and function from the toxic effects of alcohol.3 however, taking herbal remedies if you are suffering from any liver condition may worsen the situation. Therefore, you need to consult your healthcare provider before using any herbal remedy for the liver.

Though studies show the benefits of methi in various conditions, these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of methi on human health.  

How to Use Methi?

There are many ways to make use of methi in daily life.

  • Dried leaves of Methi can be used as a herb.
  • Seeds of Methi can be used as a spice.
  • Fresh leaves of Methi can be used as a vegetable.1

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking methi or any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor. 

Side Effects of Methi

The side effects associated with methi use are given below.

  • According to animal studies, oral administration of seeds’ aqueous extract showed a decrease in female fertility. It also led to growth retardation, facial malformation, alteration of motor skills, and neurobehavioural performance in offspring.1
  • Dizziness, transient diarrhoea, and flatulence are also side effects of Methi.2
  • When used as a therapeutic agent, overdosing on Methi can adversely affect health.2 

Before taking methi or any other herbal remedy, you need to talk to your healthcare provider about the possible side effects of the herbal treatment. This will help you avoid unwanted side effects.

Also Read: Lodhra: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More!

Precautions to Take With Methi

Here are some general precautions you need to take while using methi.

  • Consumption of Methi seeds is not safe during pregnancy. It may lead to abortion and impart adverse effects on the offspring, such as disturbance of behaviour and motor skills.1
  • People who are allergic to chickpeas or fenugreek need to be cautioned in consuming fenugreek as possible cross-reactions can occur.2

Also, you should talk to a healthcare provider, he will help you make well-informed choices.

Interaction With Other Drugs

Methi may interact with some drugs and alter their activity.

  • It is important to be careful when taking Methi and other drugs, as it can cause an interruption in the intestinal absorption of oral medicines.2
  • When taken with hypoglycaemic drugs, fenugreek can reduce blood glucose levels more than expected. Blood glucose levels need to be closely monitored to prevent such cases.2

If you are taking medicines for any health conditions, talk to your doctor about the possible interactions of the treatment with other herbs and drugs. It will help you avoid unwanted herb-drug interactions.  

Also Read: Fenugreek for Hair Growth: Reviewed and Confirmed by Effective Studies

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Methi?

Methi (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is a plant known for its seeds, fresh leaves, and dried leaves. It is called fenugreek in English.1

Is Methi good for weight loss?

According to animal studies, consumption of Methi has been associated with weight loss. In addition, the high fibre content of Methi may suppress hunger, thereby promoting weight loss.2 Make sure to talk to your doctor or dietician before making any changes to your diet or taking any herbal remedy for weight loss.

How to use Methi for hair?

The paste of Methi leaves can be applied to the scalp before the bath. It helps in hair growth, preserves natural colour, cures dandruff, and keeps hair silky.4

Is Methi good for diabetes?

Methi has shown effectiveness in managing diabetes, as per several animal studies. It could increase insulin sensitivity and improve the condition of insulin resistance.2 However, human trials are awaited to confirm its efficacy in human beings. Therefore, it should not be used as an alternative or replacement for conventional diabetes therapy.

Can pregnant women use Methi?

Using fenugreek in pregnant women should be avoided as it may lead to abortion. It is also associated with birth defects in the offspring. So, the use of fenugreek should be strictly avoided during pregnancy.1 It is better to talk to a healthcare provider before using her during pregnancy.

How to use Methi seeds?

Methi seeds can be used as a spice. Methi seeds are well-known for their aromatic spicy properties and are commonly used as a seasoning.1 However, talk to your doctor before using methi as a herbal remedy.

References

1. Oufquir S, Ait Laaradia M, el Gabbas Z, Bezza K, Laadraoui J, Aboufatima R, et al. Trigonella foenum-graecum L. Sprouted Seed Extract: Its Chemical HPLC Analysis, Abortive Effect, and Neurodevelopmental Toxicity on Mice. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2020;2020.

2. Syed QA, Rashid Z, Ahmad MH, Shukat R, Ishaq A, Muhammad N, et al. Nutritional and therapeutic properties of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum): a review. https://doi.org/101080/1094291220201825482 [Internet]. 2020 Jan 1 [cited 2022 Mar 14];23(1):1777–91. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10942912.2020.1825482

3. Kaviarasan S, Ramamurty N, Gunasekaran P, Varalakshmi E, Anuradha CV. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum graecum) seed extract prevents ethanol-induced toxicity and apoptosis in Chang liver cells. Alcohol and alcoholism (Oxford, Oxfordshire) [Internet]. 2006 May [cited 2022 Mar 14];41(3):267–73. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16574673/

4. Amit G, Rishabha M, Prakash ST, Kumar SP. Indian Medicinal Plants Used in Hair Care Cosmetics: A Short Review. Pharmacognosy Journal. 2010 Jun 1;2(10):361–4.

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