Trigonella foenum-graecum or Methi (fenugreek) is one of the oldest traditional medicinal plants belonging to the Fabaceae family. It is cultivated in the Indian subcontinent, North Africa, and the Mediterranean region. Methi is used in many forms, such as herb (dried leaves), fresh leaves (vegetables), and spice (seeds). Fenugreek is nutritious, medicinal, functional, and nutraceutical in nature. All these traits make fenugreek a well-known spice crop used in human diets.

Nutritional Value

Fenugreek is a rich source of dietary fibres and other nutrients needed for proper growth.  Fenugreek is also rich in several phytochemicals such as alkaloids, carbohydrates, amino acids, minerals and steroidal saponins.

Nutritional value of Methi (fenugreek):


                                          Table 1: Nutritional value of Methi (fenugreek seeds)

In addition, Methi also contains minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, and manganese. Beta carotene and Vitamin C are considered as essential components of Methi.

Therapeutic Uses

  • Fenugreek seeds are used as remedies for hypercholesterolaemia and diabetes in Indian, Chinese, and Arabic Medicine.
  • Fenugreek seeds have antioxidant activity, because of which they neutralise free radicals.
  • Seeds of Methi have been used as a remedy for stomach disorders, constipation, fever, diabetes, and anaemia.
  • Many studies suggest that fenugreek has many therapeutic benefits such as liver protection, reducing inflammation, antiulcer, anticancer, antibacterial, and neuroprotective. 

Therapeutic uses of components of Methi:

ComponentTherapeutic use
DiosgeninLiver protective and anti-cancer
ProtodioscinInhibition of leukaemia (blood cancer) cells
Vitamins and minerals  Health regulatory functions
Phenolic acidsAntioxidant
4-hydroxyisoleucineInsulin stimulation
FibresPromoting insulin secretion, controlling glucose absorption, protection of colon mucus membrane

                                                 Table 2: Therapeutic uses of components of Methi

Benefits of Methi

1. Benefits of Methi in Controlling Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a disease that affects the joints by causing chronic inflammation, characterised by tissue injury and synovial proliferation. As per animal studies, supplementation of fenugreek mucilage inhibited oedema by lowering the activity of inflammatory enzymes.

2. Benefits of Methi in Cancer

A compound called protodioscin present in Methi shows anticancer benefits against cancer cell lines. Fenugreek extract also showed inhibition of growth of cancer cell lines of breast and pancreatic cancer. As per animal studies, the administration of fenugreek extract also reduced tumour cell growth.

3. Benefits of Methi in Gastric Ulcers

The gel fraction of fenugreek can be helpful in preventing gastric lesions. The stomach protective benefit of fenugreek is due to the presence of flavonoids and polysaccharides present in the gel portion of fenugreek. The anti-secretory activity of fenugreek plays a protective role against ulcers.

4. Benefits of Methi in Brain Disorders 

The bioactive components present in Methi are effective against neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression. Extract of fenugreek is beneficial in lessening the depression as it inhibits the activity of the monoamine oxidase enzyme. Components like flavonoids present in fenugreek are helpful in reducing behavioural abnormalities by positively altering the pathways and expressions of proteins and enzymes.

5. Benefits of Methi in Asthma

Asthma is a lung disorder characterised by inflamed airways that restrict the pathway for inhalation and exhalation. According to a study, fenugreek extract was found to be beneficial in the treatment of mild asthma and can be recommended as adjuvant therapy. Daily use of Methi can help avoid the symptoms of asthma.

6. Benefits of Methi in Obesity

Methi is a beneficial weight loss agent without any significant side effects. Many animal studies have shown the effectiveness of Methi in weight loss. The high amount of fibre present in Methi suppresses hunger, which is amplified in obese patients. Consumption of Methi powder was found to be helpful in reducing weight as per animal studies. The galacto-mannan present in Methi seeds helps in excreting the sugars from the body before they are absorbed in the blood.

7. Benefits in Methi in Diabetes

Methi is beneficial in diabetes as it increases insulin sensitivity by controlling the glucose transporters and signalling transduction in the liver and adipose tissue. According to animal studies, intake of Methi increased the levels of glucose transporter-2 and 4 in the liver and adipose tissue. Methi also improves the condition of insulin resistance. It also helps the liver to perform better.

8. Benefits of Methi for Liver

Extract of the fenugreek seeds can provide protective benefits in alcohol-induced liver damage. Polyphenolic compounds present in the extract show liver-protective benefits. The fenugreek seeds provide protection to the liver cells and function from the toxic effects of alcohol.

Side Effects of Methi

  • According to animal studies, oral administration of seeds’ aqueous extract showed a decrease in female fertility. It also led to growth retardation, facial malformation, alteration of motor skills, and neurobehavioural performance in offspring.
  • Dizziness, transient diarrhoea, and flatulence are also side effects of Methi.
  • When used as a therapeutic agent, overdosing of Methi can have adverse reactions on the health.

How to Use Methi?

  • Dried leaves of Methi can be used as a herb.
  • Seeds of Methi can be used as a spice.
  • Fresh leaves of Methi can be used as a vegetable.

Precautions to Take with Methi

  • Consumption of Methi seeds is not safe during pregnancy. It may lead to abortion and impart adverse effects on the offspring, such as disturbance of behaviour and motor skills.
  • People who are allergic to chickpeas or fenugreek need to be cautioned in consuming fenugreek as possible cross-reactions can occur.

Interaction with Other Drugs

  • It is important to be careful when taking Methi along with other drugs, as it can cause an interruption in the intestinal absorption of oral medicines.
  • When taken with any hypoglycaemic drugs, fenugreek can reduce blood glucose levels more than expected. Blood glucose levels need to be closely monitored to prevent such cases.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Methi?

Methi (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is a plant known for its seeds, fresh leaves, and dried leaves. It is called fenugreek in English.

Is Methi good for weight loss?

According to animal studies, consumption of Methi has been associated with weight loss. The high fibre content of Methi suppresses hunger, thereby promoting weight loss.

How to use Methi for hair?

The paste of Methi leaves can be applied to the scalp before the bath. It helps in hair growth, preserves natural colour, cures dandruff, and keeps hair silky.

Is Methi good for diabetes?

Methi has shown benefits in managing diabetes, as per several animal studies. It increases insulin sensitivity and improves the condition of insulin resistance. However, human trials are awaited to confirm its efficacy in human beings. Therefore, it should not be used as an alternative or replacement for conventional diabetes therapy.

Can pregnant women use Methi?

The use of fenugreek in pregnant women should be avoided as it may lead to abortion. It is also associated with birth defects in the offspring. So, the use of fenugreek should be strictly avoided during pregnancy.

How to use Methi seeds?

Methi seeds can be used as a spice. Methi seeds are well-known for their aromatic spicy properties and are commonly used as a seasoning.

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