METHIKA (Trigonella foenum - graecum)
Methika has been mentioned in Ayurvedic texts and the Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia has ascribed many therapeutic uses to it. In day to day life, Methika called a methi or fenugreek in English, is used, cooked and eaten as vegetable dish in India. The leaves used for this purpose, are beneficial to augment the appetite as well as, are anti-flatulent. In Ayurvedic scriptures, various synonyms for methika are dipani – increase appetite, bahupatrika – have abundant leaves, gandhaphala – have aromatic fruit etc. The seeds of four herbs grouped together are called as caturbija. They are methika, candrasure (Lepidium sativum),krisnajiraka (Carum bulbocastanum) and yavani (Carum copticum). The total effect of caturbija is hot and it alleviates vata dosha. It is valuable combination salutary for vata diseases and is specially recommended in the treatment of low backache, dyspepsia, flatulence and abdominal pain.
The plant grows wild in Kashmir and Punjab. It is now cultivated as a quick cash crop all over India. It is an aromatic annual, 30-60 cm in height, erect, slightly branched, root tapering. The leaves alternate, on long stalks, trifoliate, lanceolate and leaflets about 2.5 cm long, shortly stalked, blunt, oblong – obovate. The flowers whitish, sessile, solitary in the axils of the leaves. The fruit pods, 5-7.5 cm long, erect when young and afterwards bent downwards, hairy, with 10-20 seeds per pod. Seeds obliquely rhomboid, greenish brown, with a deep furrow. The botanical name of methika is Trigonella foenum – graecum and it belongs to family Leguminosae/Fabaceae. The plant contains a number of steroidal sapogenins, especially diosgenin found in the oily embryo. Two furastanol glycosides, F-ring opened precursors of diosgenin have been reported, as also hederagin glycosides. The alkaloid trigonelline, trigocoumarin, trimethyl coumarin and nicotinic acid are also present. From the seeds, mucilage as a prominent constituent, along with vitexin and isovitexin has been isolated. The stem contains diosgenin and an unidentified genin and 3,4,7- trime thylcoumarin named trigoforin (Central Research Unit, Delhi CRI).Saponins – graecunins A,B,C,D,E,F, and G isolated from leaves a new coumarin – trigocou marin – isolated and characterized. Disogenin, gitogenin and tigogenin isolated form seeds. Two new furostanol glycosides isolated as their methyl esters – trigofenosides A – 1 and D-1 from seeds and characterized.
Methika is pungent in taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and has hot potency. It alleviates vata and kapha doshas, but aggravates the pitta dosha. It possesses light – easy to digest and unctuous attributes. It augments the appetite, relieves fever, tonic, milk laxative, alleviates swelling and reduces body fats, but vitiates pitta.
The plant is salutary both, internally as well as externally. The whole plant, especially, the seeds is used for medicinal purpose. The powdered seeds can be made into an effective poultice for painful and swollen rheumatic joints. It also is valuable in boils, because of their draining and healing properties.
Used internally, Methika tunes up the appetite, improves digestion, eliminates gaseous distention and relieves the heaviness and abdominal pain. The powder of roasted seeds works well with a pinch of salt to mitigate diarrhea. In diarrhea associated with bleeding, the cold infusion of seeds is salubrious. Methika leaves as a cooked vegetable, is a recommended household remedy for fever and swelling. It also aids in controlling the cough. As an adjunct. Methika seeds are daily consumed to get rid of excessive fats in obesity.
A popular traditional recipe methi laddus or balls are prepared by roasting the seeds on slow heat and powdering. To this powder, wheat flour is added and it is together roasted in pure ghee and sugar. This mixture, on cooling slightly is shaped into small round balls. The one ball or laddu, with a cup of milk, makes a nourishing and vitalizing, especially to lactation mothers. This preparation is beneficial in the diseases of vata, general debility and chronic fever with enlarged spleen, also. The milk medicated with Methika seeds is benevolent to augment the breast milk. The seeds are valuable as an aphrodisiac too.
During the last decade, Methika has attracted the scientists all over the world, for its anti – diabetic and hypolipidaemic properties. Number of experimental pharmacological studies and clinical trials have shown Methika to be a potent anti diabetic as well as hypolipidaemic agent, tested with modern parameters.
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
Methika seed powder etc.