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What is Fenugreek

 

Fenugreek (also known as Greek Hay and Fenigreek), is an herb that is commonly found growing in the editerranean regions of southern Europe and Asia . Both the seeds and leaves are primarily used as a culinary spice. However, Fenugreek was also used to treat a whole slew of ailments in ancient Egypt , Greece , Italy and India/Pakistan ranging from bronchial problems to low libido.

The seeds of the fenugreek herb are an effective nutritional supplement and have also been used by herbalists for many centuries for the health benefits it provides. Fenugreek seeds contain protein, vitamin C, niacin, potassium, and diosgenin (a phytoestrogen compound that seems to mimic the effects of the hormone estrogen). The diosgenin in fenugreek is thought to help increase libido and lessen the effects of hot flashes and hormone-induced mood fluctuations. More active constituents in fenugreek are alkaloids, lysine and L-tryptophan. It also contains steroidal saponins (diosgenin, yamogenin, tigogenin, and neotigogenin) and mucilaginous fiber which are believed to be responsible for many of the beneficial effects fenugreek exhibits.

    fenugreek

What are the Benefits of Fenugreek?

Fenugreek is an amazing magic herb that can cure number of ailments. Indian Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine recommend fenugreek to treat arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, improve digestion, maintain a healthy metabolism, increase libido and male potency, cure skin problems (wounds, rashes and boils), treat sore throat, and cure acid reflux. Fenugreek also has a long history of use for the treatment of reproductive disorders, to induce labor, to treat hormonal disorders, to help with breast enlargement, and to reduce menstrual pain. Recent studies have shown that Fenugreek helps lower blood glucose and cholestrol levels, and may be an effective treatment for both type 1 and 2 diabetes. Fenugreek is also being studied for its cardiovascular benefits.

Uses of Fenugreek

Home Remedy for Balancing Cholesterol

A study in India found people who took 2 ounces of fenugreek seed each day had significantly (around 14 percent) lower cholesterol levels after 24 weeks, and had lowered their risk of heart attack by more than 25 percent. Therefore, a recommended remedy for lowering cholesterol is to take 2 ounces of Fenugreek seeds as part of one meal each day. The seeds can be sprinkled onto prepared food, or they can be consumed with water if they are in capsule form.

Treating Diabetes and Lowering Blood Sugar Levels

Studies have shown that participants with type 2 diabetes had significantly lower blood sugar levels after eating fenugreek. Therefore, a recommended home remedy for treating Type 2 diabetes is to consume 500mg of fenugreek twice daily.

Herbal Cure for Skin Inflammation

A German research group has approved Fenugreek as an effective topical treatment for skin problems such as abscesses, boils, burns, eczema, gout and ulceration of the skin. Therefore, a simple skin inflammation remedy is to take a spoonful of fenugreek and grind it into powder. Mix it with warm water to make a poultice and apply it directly onto the inflamed skin. (A poultice is simply a piece of cloth that has been soaked into the warm water mixture and then applied to the skin).

fenugreek    

Natural Cure for Heartburn and Acid Reflux

Fenugreek seeds contain a lot of mucilage, which helps sooth gastrointestinal inflammation by coating the lining of the stomach and intestine. Therefore, for an effective remedy against heartburn or Acid Reflux, simply sprinkle 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds onto your food. Another option is to take one teaspoon of Fenugreek seeds and swallow them with water or juice before you start to eat.

Home Remedy for Fever

The Fenugreek herb has been known to help reduce fever when taken with lemon and honey, since it nourishes the body during an illness. Therefore, to treat a fever, simply consume one to two teaspoons of Fenugreek seeds three times a day along with an herbal tea (such as green tea) with a teaspoon of honey and lemon juice. Some health food stores also sell herbal Fenugreek teas (see below), which can be used instead of the green tea.

Breast Enlargement

Fenugreek is often used in commercial preparations and teas formulated to help balance women's hormones and/or enlarge the breasts. Therefore, a simple remedy is to make Fenugreek a part of your regular diet.

Remedy to Ease Child Birth for Pregnant Women

Fenugreek stimulates uterine contractions and can be helpful to induce childbirth. However, pregnant women should only use Fenugreek for inducing labor after consulting with their doctor.

Remedy to Aid Milk Production in Lactating Women

Since ancient times, Fenugreek has been known to increase milk production in lactating women. Research has even shown that milk production can increase by over 500 percent within 24 to 72 hours after consuming fenugreek. Although it is not known why this happens, researchers speculate that the oil contained in fenugreek seeds plays a role. Therefore, a recommended remedy to increase milk flow is to consume one capsule of fenugreek seed (at least 500mg) three times a day.

What are the Side Effects of Fenugreek?

While Fenugreek is generally considered to be safe, there have been reports of a few minor side-effects. For example, some people have reported that it can make them feel nauseous. High doses of fenugreek seed may also cause gastrointestinal discomfort, including diarrhea and gas. Frequent topical use of fenugreek preparations may cause skin irritation and sensitization. Fenugreek fiber can interfere with the absorption of oral medications because its fiber is mucilaginous (moist and sticky). Therefore, Fenugreek should be taken at least 2 hours before or after other drugs are taken. Fenugreek use during pregnancy is discouraged and should only be taken under a doctor's recommendation (since it can be used to induce labor).

  fenugreek

 

Where and How to Buy Fenugreek

Fenugreek is often available in capsules, seed, and powder form at many health food stores. Fenugreek seeds can also often be found at Indian/Pakistani grocery stores. Recently, a few suppliers have also been offering Fenugreek herbal tea bags.

 

Fenugreek Gum

The main component in albumen is galactomannan. Galactomannan is a polysaccharide made of galactose combined with mannan, high molecular compound of mannose. Starch is a polymer molecule made of glucose and nutritious, on the other hand mannan made of mannose cannot be digested and is not nutritious. However, galactomanna makes a great contribution to our food.

fenugreek gum    

Galactomannan has a property of increasing viscosity when dissolved in the water and it is useful for forming. If galactomannan is added to milk, it will be ice cream, if added to cocoa, it will be chocolate, and if added to wheat flour, we can make firm noodle. We call the material increasing viscosity when dissolved in the water a gum.

Guar gum and Locust bean gum are also made of galactomannan and used as a gum. Like fenugreek, these gums are taken from legumes, but they have a different property from fenugreek. This difference is originated from the difference of a chemical structure. The ratio of galactose to mannose for fenugreek is 1:1, but for Guar gum, it is 1:2, and for Locust bean gum, it is 1:4.

The less the rate of galactose becomes, the less the solubility becomes. 100% pure mannan without galactose is completely insoluble in water. That is because a chain of galactose prevents becoming insoluble by extending a macromolecule of mannan. So, fenugreek gum containing more galactose has superior solubility and dispersiveness and forms stable colloid for a long time compared to Guar gum and Locust bean gum. If an electrolyte is added to, its viscosity is weakened a little, but if pH is changed, it is stable and has no change in viscosity. Galactose is hydrophilic and mannan is hydrophobic. This means that fenugreek gum is surface-active, in other words, an emulsifier that mixes water and oil. It dissolves oil into water, increases viscosity, and forms aqueous colloids. That moderately disperses oil particles and prevents from sticking to each other, therefore it can maintain the state of oil dispersion. This kind of material is called a stabilizer. Fenugreek galactomannan works as a gum and an emulsifier, so that it can be used as a stabilizer for food.

Thus, fenugreek gum has superior characteristics compared to other conventional gums. Interestingly, the higher the ratio of galactose is, the stronger the effect of lowering the level of sugar and cholesterol in the blood becomes. That is, fenugreek is a medicinal natural food additive.

Fenugreek's medicinal virtues

It has been used as a folk medicine since ancient days, and the reason why it has recently attract particular attention is its effect on diabetes.

It has been confirmed by animal experiments and clinical tests on humans that ingesting the food compounded fenugreek gum powder certainly lowers the level of sugar in the blood for the past few years. Moreover, it has been proved that fenugreek seeds lowers the level of cholesterol and fat in the blood and restrains biosynthesis of cholesterol in the liver. The results of many researches have discovered that these effects are caused by galactomannan contained in albumen in seeds (fenugreek gum). Polysaccharide, or dietary fiber, generally has the effect of lowering the lovel of cholesterol, and fenugreek is distinctive for having the effect of lowering the level of sugar in the blood as well.

When used for diabetes and hypercholesterolemia, it has been proved that the more fenugreek seeds they take, the more the effect they can get. However, it was difficult to take much seed powder because it has a bitter taste and a peculiar smell. We, Air Green, have succeeded in abstracting only albumen from seeds containing 25%of albumen, and then produced fenugreek gum powder. It has no taste and no smell because it does not contain testa which has a bitter taste and a peculiar smell, so everyone can eat it. We have also succeeded in purifying gum powder and abstracting only fenugreek galactomannan without taste and smell.

Intake of Fenugreek Gum

There is no limit for the intake because fenugreek gum is harmless. According to clinical tests, 1.25g of gum (5g in seeds) is enough to lower the blood sugar level and cholesterol. There is a case that 7.25g of gum (30g in seeds) are taken for therapeutic purposes. Generally, it is thought to be effective to take approximately 6g in gum powder or approximately 5g in refined gum powder whose galactomannan content is more than 80%. It is confirmed by animal experiments that administration of the amount equivalent to 120g per day for human does no harm.

Mechanisim of action of Galactomannan

Animal tests have proved that galactomannan blocks intestinal abosorption of glucose. However, the reason is unknown why intaking galactomannan indigestible for human lowers the level of cholesterol in blood and also lowers biosynthesis of cholesterol in the liver. In general, it is said that the action of dietary fiber which increases intestinal viscosity, absorbs cholesterol, and eliminates it as bowel movement reduces the absorption of cholesterol and lowers the level of cholesterol in blood. It is, however, unexplainable why biosynthesis of cholesterol is also lowered.

Some say that galactomannan is aliment for enteric bacteria which decompose glucose into volatile fatty acid so that the absorption of sugar is reduced and fatty acid is absorbed into blood that prevents biosynthesis of cholesterol. Others say that galactomannan causes intestinal canal wall to secrete more hormones and enzymes, and they affect biosynthesis of cholesterol in the liver and the absorption of sugar. But the mechanism has not been fully understood yet. It is certainly possible that bacteria bred by galactomannan have a meaningful relation to these effects, like oligosaccharide breeds Lactobacillus bijidus.

Other effects by fenugreek gum

Because fenugreek galactomannan is dietary fiber, it has an effect as bulk cathartic, so that it works well for constipation. Moreover, it lowers not only cholesterol but also blood fat such as triglyceride. In various experiments designed to determine the effect of lowering blood sugar, weight loss is also observed. This indicates that long-term intake of fenugreek gum loses weight, so you can make diet foods by compounding it into various foods.

Fenugreek gum [Air Green]

Fenugreek gum [Air Green] has three grades, Gum T, Gum A, and Gum B. These grades have different galactmannan content. Gum T contains over 86% of galactmannan, Gum A contains over 80-86% of galactomannan, Gum B contains 60-80% of galactomannan.

When Gum T and A dissolves in water, odorless translucent white gel occurs, and its taste is like cereal. When you use it as a viscous agent, we recommend that you use Gum T and A. Gum B are by-products of Gum T and A, which still have a faint curry smell and are more yellowish brown than Gum A. But if you use it for the things not to be dissolved in water like health supplements, tablets, and capsules. The use of Gum B is recommended because they are cheaper than Gum T and A. Gum T is purest gum and is used for cosmetic raw material.

Specification of Fenugreek Gum

Description: Gum powder T: White or slight yellowish powder with a slight original smell.
Gum powder A: light yellowish powder with a slight original smell.
Gum powder B: light brownish powder with a slight curry smell.
Identification: When dissolved in the water, it gains viscosity and become jelly solution.
Purity test:
1. Acid insoluble matter: Gum powder T and A: not more than 3%
Gum powder B: not more than 5%
2. Water insoluble matter: Gum powder T and A: not more than 3%
Gum powder B: not more than 5%
3. Heavy metal: not more than 20ppm (as lead)
4. Arsenic: not more than 2ppm
Loss on drying: not more than 10%
Viscosity (1w/v% solution, 25 C degree): Gum powder T: not less than 3400Pa.s
Gum powder A: not less than 3000Pa.S
Gum powder B: not less than 1000Pa.S
Granularity: Gum powder T and A: Not more than 70 mesh
Gum powder B: Not more than 100 meshi
Nutritional test:
1. Protein: Not more than 5%
2. Starch: negative
3. Fat: not more than 1%
4. Fiber: Gum powder T: not less than 86%
Gum powder A: not less than 80%
Gum powder B: not less than 70%
5. Calorie: Not more than 1kcal/g
Ash: Not more than 1.5%
Assay:
Galactomannan Gum powder H: not less than 86%
Gum powder A: not less than 80%
Gum powder B: not less than 60%
Microbiological test:
(1) General Bacteria: bacteria: not more than 3 x 102
Fungi: not more than 3 x 102
(2) E. Coli: negative



References:

http://www.airgreen.co.jp/fenugreek/index_e.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenugreek

-Editorial Team
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