Fenugreek is the small stony seeds from the pod of a bean-like plant. The seeds are hard, yellowish brown and angular. Some are oblong, some rhombic, other virtually cubic, with a side of about 3 mm. Fenugreek seeds are a dried, ripe seed of the herb Trigonella foenum – graecum. It is brownish-yellow in color and is one of the oldest cultivated medicinal plants.
Trigonella foenum-graecum L.
Name in international languages:
|Dutch||Fenegriek||Hindi||K'u - Tou|
Native to India and Southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, the plant is cultivated in central and southeastern Europe, western Asia, India, and northern Africa. The plants are erect, loosely branched, less than 3 feet (1 m) tall with trifoliate, light green leaves and small white flowers. The slender pods are up to 6 inches (15 cm) long, curved and beaked, and contain ten to twenty yellow-brown seeds–flat rhomboids characterized by a deep furrow, less than 0.2 inch (1 cm) long. The seeds are about 0.5 cm in diameter and are irregularly shaped, very hard, and tan or mustard coloured.The volatile oil content of fenugreek is very small (less than 0.02%). It also contains fixed oils at about 5% – 7%. They contain the alkaloids trigonelline and choline and a yellow colouring matter. It is rich in proteins, minerals and vitamins.
Uses & Application:
The major use of fenugreek is in curry powders, figuring in many mixtures. Fenugreek is primarily used as food, condiment, medicine, dye and animal feed. It is widely used as an ingredient in curry powder. It is also found in pickle mixes, chutneys and confectionery.
Fenugreek was used in Middle Ages to cure baldness. It is still used in Indonesia as hair tonic. It is traditionally used to stimulate the metabolism and there by to control the blood sugar levels of diabetic patients. It is useful in lowering the blood pressure and because of its high iron content it is also given in cases of anaemia. Fenugreek is used medicinally as a digestive aid and to promote lactation in both women and in cows. The seeds have been used as an internal emollient for inflammation of the digestive tract and as an external poultice for boils and abscesses; but their present medical use is principally confined to the treatment of cows and horses. It contains diosgenin, a compound used as a starting material for sex hormones in the pharmaceutical industry. The powder is sometimes used as a dye.
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