Fenugreek (also known as Trigonella foenum-graecum F. Fabaceae) is one of the oldest medicinal herbs known to man across both East and West, dating back approximately 2500 years. It’s an annual herb that grows to around 60cm, with its soft, tri-lobed shaped leaf awarding it the name ‘Trigonella’ by the Greeks. It is a rich natural source of saponins and alkaloids, including Diosgenin and 4-Hydroxy Isoleucine. It also may have powerful detoxing characteristics, which make it a favourite among many people who care about their health and wellbeing. As well as being an effective blood cleanser, Fenugreek may act as a diaphoretic, increasing sweat through the pores of the skin. It's a pungent herb, as anyone who has taken it will tell you, and can be smelt in both body odour and on the skin. Don’t worry, though – this just means the herb is working well, and regular showers help.
Fenugreek’s ability to cleanse the lymphatic system is well known, and as its chemical compound is closely related to garlic, it can also increase the power of garlic to disinfect the body. The lymphatic system is a vital system in the body for eliminating waste, and a blocked system can lead to poor energy levels, poor circulation and fluid retention, increased pain in the body and disease. A toxic lymphatic system can also lead to more serious illnesses, such as cysts or tumours. For people on a gruelling training plan, Fenugreek may also have a positive effect on the respiratory system and has long been applied as a medicinal herb for conditions such as cold and flu, bronchial complaints, catarrh, asthma, emphysema, and other conditions.
Additionally, it is high in vitamins A, B, C and E, as well as amino acids. These are all helped along in the system by the presence of digestive enzymes. This makes Fenugreek a great ingredient to stack with other supplements such as protein powders and fat loss supplements, as so many people are deficient in the digestive enzymes needed to digest proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Fenugreek sprouts are particularly high in amylase, which is beneficial for digestion of carbohydrates, protease for proteins, lipase for fats and emulsin for converting sugars, among others.
Fenugreek as an ingredient in supplements may boost the ability of the body to absorb the other ingredients, particularly proteins and carbohydrates, and helps protect the stomach while increasing digestive function. The plant is very safe for consumption for all people, but as it has historically been used to induce labour, pregnant women should avoid its use. After pregnancy, though, it is especially good for increasing the milk supply of lactating women, according the Breastfeeding Association of Australia. If you have any illnesses, check with your health professional before taking Fenugreek as part of a supplement.
Fenugreek has also been well researched to help with diabetes, weight control and cholesterol and lipid levels by helping to improve glycaemic control, support healthy weight loss and improved cholesterol and lipid levels. Fenugreek was also shown in at least one study to help improve upper and lower body strength in resistance trained men. As a supplement, Fenugreek pairs well with most other supplements but may enhance the action of creatine and protein due to its potential ability to mimic the actions of insulin.
Fenugreek Supplements are commonly presented & sold as Complementary Medicines, Registered Therapeutic Items or Goods and Formulated Supplementary Sports Foods in Australia. Fenugreek not a sole source of nutrition and should be used in conjunction with an appropriate physical training or exercise programme. Not suitable for children under 15 years or pregnant women. Should only be used under medical or dietetic supervision. Always read the label prior to use.1. K. Srinivasan. ‘Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum): A Review of Health Beneficial Physiological Effects’ Food Reviews International . 22: 2, 2006