This Ayurvedic Spice Spring Cleans Your Gut, Eliminating Bloating & Constipation

Photo: Helen Rushbrook

Fenugreek, also known as Methi, is part of the fabaceae, or legume family. Growing wild as a small leafy shrub, it's cultivated as an annual crop in modern agriculture, where both the seeds and leaves are used regularly for culinary and medicinal purposes. In ayurveda, fenugreek is incredible for balancing the body, with a strong warming and grounding effect as well. In ayurvedic traditions, it's used to enhance digestion, prevent stomach disorders, and as an antibacterial when treating respiratory issues. Its healing properties make it particularly suited for spring.

Excellent for pacifying Kapha (spring is known as Kapha season), fenugreek has both antibacterial and antiviral properties. Its demulcent and astringent actions help to soothe the mucus membranes and improve their structure. Fenugreek seeds are a rich source of mucilage, which may help to prevent constipation and encourages the softening, dissolving, and expectoration of mucus, while at the same time helping to reduce excess mucus production. In short, this is your go-to stomach herb!

Fenugreek spring cleans your body by heating it up from the inside out. Its Vipaka (how it works in the body after digestion) is bitter and pungent, further encouraging use for predominantly Kapha-type issues (excess water and mucus). Fenugreek helps to normalize and stabilize blood sugar levels as well as encouraging a healthy libido.

Fenugreek spring cleans your body by heating it up from the inside out.

Fenugreek is a great spice to incorporate into your meals as it works wonderfully in both sweet and savory dishes, creating dishes that are both delicious and functional. While the whole plant is usable, the seeds are most available and have a complex nutty flavor that works in a ton of different cuisines. The ground seeds are what is found inside the capsule versions. Sauté whole seeds or ground fenugreek in ghee before adding in other spices, carrots, celery, sweet potatoes, and stock for a quick and easy soup. Fenugreek combines well with other spices like turmeric, cumin, and cardamom and is commonly found in Indian curry recipes. Mix it with cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and clove, adding into the water first before adding oats for a warm spiced breakfast porridge.

As a postpartum doula, using fenugreek has become second nature to me. It is a well-known galactagogue (it can help you produce more breast milk), and you find it in most lactation teas and supplements. You can easily make your own fenugreek tea by boiling the seeds and/or the leaves with a couple of cardamom pods and some chamomile leaves for 20 minutes; serve with honey for some added sweetness. You could also add it into ayurveda’s beloved kitcheri with cumin, coriander, and turmeric to develop flavors. Fenugreek is so interesting because it transforms with various ingredients, deepening and enriching the flavor profile of your meals.

Fenugreek can also be used topically, by utilizing the excess water left over from cooked fenugreek seeds in a sitz bath for healing the pelvic floor postpartum or treating hemorrhoids. To soothe engorged breasts and to relieve chest congestion, just soak a soft cloth in some of that fenugreek water and mix with some castor oil on the area. It is also a wonderful rinse for your hair, being known to help with dandruff and dry scalp issues and strengthening the hair shaft. Recently, I was told by an Indian friend that her grandmother made a paste every morning of honey and fenugreek and took it by the spoonful all day believing that the blend boosted her immunity.

Like most herbs and spices, fenugreek is easily adaptable (yes, it is an adaptogen) by the body when cooked into food, using the food as a carrier for the spices to get deep into the digestive tract. Fenugreek works its best action in the small intestine, balancing inflammation and healthy bacteria. The spice is packed with naturally occurring minerals potassium, iron, magnesium, and vitamin B6.

One small note: Anyone with a peanut allergy should be careful with consuming fenugreek as it could cause a cross-reaction as it is a member of the legume family.

Fenugreek Rice Pudding Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 cups full-fat canned coconut milk
  • ¼ cup uncooked basmati rice
  • ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Method

  1. In a medium pot, bring milk to boil over medium heat. Add rice and all spices, vanilla, and salt, and bring to simmer; reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Serve immediately or eat cold according to your preference.

Psst! You can also use ayurveda to heal your gut and balance your hormones. Here's how.

And are you ready to learn more about how gut health is the foundation for the health of your entire body? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Dr. Vincent Pedre.

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