Fenugreek: The Wonder Herb for Good Health and Weight Loss

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Fenugreek, or Trigonella foenum-graceum L, is an annual herbaceous plant in the Fabaceae family that has three tiny obovate to oblong leaflets. Although it originated in the eastern Mediterranean, it is now grown in every continent. Many traditional medical applications have been suggested for this plant due to its high concentration of medicinal alkaloids, steroid chemicals, and sapogenins.

Plant Chemistry

The main ingredients of the seed contain steroidal saponins, alkaloids, mucilage, and fibers (50%).

Steroidal Saponins

Diosgenin and yamogenin are major steroidal saponins (ranging from 0.1% to 2.2%). Some more sapogenins are tigogenin, gitogenin, sarsapogenin, yuccagenin, and smilagenin. Fenugreekine, a peptide ester of sapogenin, is found in the seeds.


The seed contains alkaloids such as gentanin and carpaine choline.

Therapeutic uses of Fenugreek

The following are the major therapeutic use.

1. Diabetes mellitus

Diabetes mellitus

A chronic metabolic condition characterized by abnormalities in carbohydrate, protein, and lipid metabolism due to either inadequate insulin secretion or action. The growing prevalence of diabetes is a serious international health challenge. There is a lot of research that points to the effectiveness of herbal therapy in the management of diabetes. Many model systems have employed fenugreek seeds, leaves, and extracts as anti-diabetic. Fenugreek is widely used by diabetics in Arab nations like Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Animal research has shown that fenugreek may have hypoglycemic effects. Fenugreek may have hypoglycemic effects, according to human research.

2. Lipid-lowering effects

Randomized clinical trials provide some evidence that fenugreek reduces serum cholesterol. In a single-blind trial involving 20 healthy male volunteers, total serum cholesterol decreased by 9.2% following a single dosage of an aqueous extract produced from fenugreek leaves (40 mg/kg). Another study examined 15 asymptomatic, non-obese, hyperlipidemic people. After intake of 100 gm fenugreek powder per day for three weeks, the patients showed a drop in their triglyceride (TG) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels as compared with baseline values. There were also slight declines in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) values.

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3. Cardioprotective effects

Cardioprotective effects

Animal research showed that fenugreek supplementation effectively mitigated the oxidative stress and cardiac damage caused by isoproterenol-induced myocardial infarction. Blood lipid levels are significantly influenced by fenugreek’s moderating properties. As it has been shown to significantly reduce cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL levels while increasing HDL levels, it can significantly lessen the likelihood of atherosclerosis. The coumarin and other components of fenugreek have been shown to inhibit platelet aggregation, which in turn greatly lessens the danger of irregular blood clotting that can lead to cardiovascular problems including heart attacks and strokes.

4. Gastroprotective effect

Gastroprotective effects

Fenugreek seeds were compared to omeprazole for their ability to prevent ethanol-induced stomach ulcers. Significantly more significant ulcer preventive benefits were observed from the aqueous extract and a gel fraction produced from the seeds than from omeprazole. The impacts on mucosal glycoproteins and the anti-secretory action were identified by the researchers as the likely causes of the seeds’ cytoprotective effect. Fenugreek seeds reduced mucosal damage by reducing ethanol-induced increases in lipid peroxidation, most likely through increasing the antioxidant potential of the stomach mucosa. The anti-ulcer effect of fenugreek seeds may be due in part to an increase in sulfhydryl concentration in the gastrointestinal mucosa. Sulfhydryl compounds (SHs) in the stomach mucosa are antioxidants that play a key role in keeping the stomach lining healthy.

5. Anticancer effect

Anticancer effects

Several studies have found that fenugreek seed extracts and several of their constituents have anticarcinogenic effects. Fenugreek consumption was correlated with lower levels of polyamines (spermine, spermidine, putrescine) in tumor tissue. Diosgenin, a bioactive component of fenugreek seeds, was tested in a study to determine what kind of response it would get from breast cancer cell lines. Diosgenin inhibited cell proliferation and induced apoptosis in both estrogen receptor-positive ER (+) and estrogen receptor-negative ER (- ) breast cancer cells by causing G1 cell cycle arrest by down-regulating cyclin D1, CDK-2, and CDK-4 expression. Diosgenin also suppressed the expression of matrix metalloproteinases, which were reported to impede the migration and invasion of prostate cancer PC-3 cells. Purified Protodioscin (PD) from fenugreek was tested for its impact on the viability of human leukemia HL-60 and stomach cancer KATO III cells. The results were positive and promising.

6. Use of fenugreek in arthritis


As an autoimmune illness, rheumatoid arthritis can be treated with estrogen-like chemicals, as the binding of estrogen metabolites to DNA has been shown to suppress tissue inflammation. As an estrogen mimic, fenugreek has been demonstrated to slow the progression of autoimmune illnesses. T. foenum graecum L.’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties were proposed as a potential explanation for its anti-arthritic effects.

7. Antimicrobial effects of fenugreek

Herbal extracts are becoming a viable alternative to synthetic antibacterial chemicals. Aldehyde and phenolic chemicals are two possible sources of the antibacterial activity observed in plant extracts. The antibacterial properties of fenugreek have been the subject of numerous studies.

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8. Effect of fenugreek on body weight

Weight loss

As an ancient herbal remedy, fenugreek seeds have been used to correct metabolic and nutritional imbalances for centuries. Researchers have shown that using fenugreek seed extract may help them lose weight by targeting their fat stores. The likely mechanism by which fenugreek reduces total body and adipose tissue weight is that it eliminates carbs from the body before they enter the bloodstream, hence causing weight loss.

Adverse effects                                        

Although fenugreek has long been deemed safe and well-tolerated, it has been linked to several adverse effects. Patients who are known to be allergic to fenugreek or who are allergic to chickpeas should take caution when consuming fenugreek. Rhinorrhea, wheezing, and fainting has been recorded as hypersensitivity reactions following inhalation of fenugreek-seed powder and facial angioedema following the application of a topical fenugreek paste for dandruff.

Hypoglycemia is a predicted side effect; consequently, glucose levels should be monitored once supplementation has begun. Due to its coumarin concentration, fenugreek may increase the risk of bleeding. The effects of fenugreek on bone marrow hematopoietic stem cells have been described.


Based on human and animal investigations, numerous researchers had examined fenugreek as a possible medicinal herb, especially as an anti-diabetic, hypolipidemic, and antioxidant agent. It affects immunological functions, has anticancer capabilities, antibacterial, gastro-, and cardioprotective effects, and anti-arthritic and vascular protective effects. However, many of its effects have not been confirmed by clinical research. Moreover, fenugreek has been documented to have undesirable side effects and interact with other medications. To enhance these findings and analyze the pharmacological qualities and results of fenugreek, further clinical research is required.

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