Useful information

Hay fenugreek: a cultural history

Fenugreek

Hay fenugreek is one of the oldest medicinal plants. Its seeds, found in what is now Iraq, date back to 4000 BC. Archaeologists have also found fenugreek seeds in the tomb of Tutankhamun. The ancient Egyptians ate this plant as a vegetable, and its seeds were included in the spices they used for embalming. Fenugreek was used in ancient Egypt to heal wounds, inflammations, burns and to promote childbirth, and together with honey, to treat dyspepsia, diabetes and rickets.

The notes of Dioscorides, an ancient Roman physician, pharmacologist and naturalist, one of the founders of pharmacognosy and botany, testify to the widespread use of this plant in the treatment of gynecological problems, including vaginitis, vulvitis, and uterine infections.

Fenugreek seeds were eaten by gladiators and Greek athletes for appetite and increased strength. In addition, the ancient Greeks and Romans considered fenugreek to be a powerful anti-diabetic and also used it as a popular additive to livestock feed, as fenugreek increases the appetite of animals and the smell of the plant is transferred to milk.

In ancient China, doctors used fenugreek for the treatment of hernias, for diseases of the bladder, muscle pain and impotence, and recommended for fevers, intestinal and pulmonary diseases.

Hay fenugreek seeds

Fenugreek has traditionally been used and is still widely used in North Africa, the Middle East and India to treat anorexia, as well as an antipyretic agent, to soothe gastritis and stomach ulcers, during childbirth, and as a galactogen.

In Ayurveda, this plant is called Shambhala. In classical Ayurvedic medicine, fenugreek is used as a general tonic for the relief of many gastrointestinal diseases, as a milk-producing agent, as well as for the treatment of hemorrhoids and chronic cough. Indian women eat shambhala seeds after childbirth to strengthen their backs, rejuvenate and increase the flow of breast milk.

This plant was brought to Central Europe in the 9th century by Benedictine monks, after which a fairly widespread cultivation of fenugreek began in the imperial gardens of Charlemagne. It was from the 9th century that this plant became widely used in European medicine for the treatment of wounds, fevers, respiratory and gastric diseases.

Fenugreek was part of the Lydia Pinkham Elixir, very popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in America, which helps with menstrual discomfort. This elixir was considered the greatest medical discovery of the 19th century.

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  • Useful properties of hay fenugreek
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