Fenugreek (also called Greek Hay and wild clover) has been used for centuries, both as herb and spice, and as natural home remedy for various ailments. The latest finding about fenugreek reveals that it may be the key to fend off cold virus, and the herb has been appreciated as a “fix-all elixir” owing to its strong anti-viral properties.
Researchers have found that it could kill viruses that cause sniffles and sore throats, and helps relieve symptoms.
Within a three-month period, 10 healthy volunteers consumed two portions of the herb every week. An equal portion of the herb was also given to 10 other volunteers, all with symptoms of common cold, for same duration.
At the end of three months, volunteers with cold symptoms reported immediate and sustained relief from symptoms, including cough, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat and tiredness.
Further, volunteers who were healthy remained that way during the entire duration of the trial, despite usually coming down with a cold at least once during the said period.
The trial, led by leading nutritionist and Anglo-Indian chef, Gurpareet Bains, also the author of best-selling book â€˜Indian Superfoodâ€™ said, â€œalthough some foods and spices can alleviate symptoms of common cold, the case study results have shown that fenugreek is more beneficial. In fact, it wouldnâ€™t be wrong to say that fenugreek could be a winter fix-all elixirâ€.
Following this, another trial launched by Gurpareet in October, to determine the herbâ€™s power against cold and flu, involved 20 adults in the age group 18 to 60 years, half of whom, already showed symptoms of common cold. All 20 agreed that they usually catch cold at least once during winter months.
Volunteers in this trial were given half-a-teaspoon of fenugreek seeds, in a â€œcold and flu-bustingâ€ curry, twice-a-week. Results showed that those with cold reported immediate relief, while the rest did not catch cold even once during the entire three months in winter.
Other health benefits of fenugreek :
- Fenugreek has been clinically proven to lower high glucose levels in diabetics and lower cholesterol levels, apart from improving general heart health and hormone levels, thereby reducing risk associated with cardiovascular diseases.
- Fenugreek seeds when consumed, release mucilage, creating a soothing effect on digestive organs. This forms a protective coating on the lining of intestine and stomach, reducing gastric inflammation, reflux, and heartburn.
- Fenugreek has long been known to increase libido. The seeds are rich in diogenin, a substance that mimics activity of estrogen.
- Fenugreek promotes lactation and is advised for nursing mothers.
- Fenugreek relieves skin inflammation, and is therefore an effective topical treatment for boils, burns, abscesses, eczema and gout.
- Fenugreek, due to the presence of natural estrogens, is effective in treating symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, anxiety and insomnia.
- Some studies have suggested that due to the presence of diogenin, fenugreek may have anti-carcinogenic properties.
- Being rich in fiber, fenugreek is useful in treating constipation.
- Fenugreek is also a good antioxidant and free radical scavenger.
To use fenugreek:
Heat a skilled on medium heat. Add fenugreek seeds and dry roast until the seeds show a slight colour change and are hot to touch. Once the seeds are cooled, grind them to a powder in a small spice grinder. The powdered fenugreek seeds are now ready to be added to curries or gravies.
Steep whole fenugreek seeds (1 teaspoon of seeds for 8 ounces of water) in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and keep it covered for another 10 to 15 minutes. Pour the tea into another container using a strainer. Drink it hot or store in refrigerator to drink later. You can drink sweetened or unsweetened tea, as per your choice. Use of honey as sweetener would be an excellent complement.
PS: Drink fenugreek tea twice or thrice a day. But, if already on medication for diabetes, cholesterol or for other health problems, consult practitioner before incorporating fenugreek into diet.