First of all, the fenugreek is a laxative, a carminative and a demulcent. A carminative is a substance that relieves intestinal gas and bloating, and a demulcent is a substance that soothes inflamed gastric mucous membranes. So fenugreek is good stuff for poor, over-burdened tummies.
And fenugreek is full of goodies. It contains lecithin, that magical good fatty substance that dissolves the bad fats in our system. Just the ticket after all those rich Christmas feasts.
And it contains a kind of fibre, called mucilage. Mucilage not only makes it a good intestinal cleanser, it is also thought that it’s part of what makes fenugreek improve blood sugar control in Types I and II diabetes.
Fenugreek is also nutritious. It contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12 and D. It’s particularly rich in iron and vitamins A and D, and is strangely similar in chemical composition to cod liver oil.
Fenugreek cleanses, stimulates and helps remove waste products from the body. It stimulates the lymphatic system, the kidneys and the liver to remove all the after-effects that follow too much of too many good things. It contains powerful antioxidants that have a beneficial effect on the pancreas and liver too.
Add to all that some important phytochemicals, particularly hormone-like substances, and you can see why fenugreek has been touted as a cure-all in days past.
Lydia Pinkham’s famous Vegetable Compound – a 19th century tonic to cure all manner of women’s complaints – had a good dose of fenugreek in it.
Also, while having a reputation as a breast developer and milk stimulant, fenugreek has a naturally-occurring chemical – diosgenin – which bears a striking resemblance to oestrogen, a female sex hormone that is fed to others who want to curb the flow of breast milk.
But its role in the reproductive process starts well before it stimulates or stops the flow of breast milk. Because of its steroidal sapiens which closely resembles the body’s own sex hormones, it has the (scientifically unsubstantiated) reputation as an aphrodisiac.
What is undisputed is that it is a valuable source of vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium. Fenugreek contains choline and lecithin, both substances needed by the liver for cholesterol metabolism.
The excellent soothing and expectorant (spitting) properties make fenugreek useful in the treatment of fevers, bronchitis and throat and chest disorders as it acts to dissolve mucous congestion. Gargle with fenugreek tea to counter sore throats.
The drink is mucilaginous, nutritious and soothing to the intestinal canal in the case of faulty digestion.
A thick paste made from fenugreek seeds mixed with hot water or hot milk, makes a useful poultice which can be applied to swellings, abscesses, boils, carbuncles, ulcers and inflammations.