Context: The health benefits and medicinal properties of herbal food products are known since antiquity. Fenugreek [Trigonella foenum-graecum Linn. (Fabaceae)], a seed spice used to enhance flavor, color and texture of food, is employed for medicinal purposes in many traditional systems. A number of epidemiological studies and laboratory research have unraveled the biological actions of fenugreek.
Objective: Research on fenugreek in recent years has identified a number of health benefits and physiological attributes in both experimental animals as well as clinical trials in humans. In this study we have reviewed the available scientific literature on fenugreek.
Methods: This review article summarizes and reviews published experimental studies and scientific literature from the databases including PubMed, Google and local library searches.
Results: The information available in the literature on the health benefits and pharmaceutical effects of Trigonella accounts for its known medicinal properties and adds new therapeutic effects in newer indications. Besides its known medicinal properties such as carminative, gastric stimulant, antidiabetic and galactogogue (lactation-inducer) effects, newer research has identified hypocholesterolemic, antilipidemia, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, antiulcer, antilithigenic, anticarcinogenic and other miscellaneous medicinal effects of fenugreek. Although most of these studies have used whole seed powder or different forms of extracts, some have identified active constituents from seeds and attributed them medicinal values for different indications.
Conclusion: The resarch on Trigonella exhibits its health benefits and potential medicinal properties in various indications and has little or no side effects, suggesting its pharmaceutical, therapeutic and nutritional potential.