Are you tired of allopathic medicines to treat Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)? You may be surprised to know this, but you probably have one of the best PCOS home remedies in your kitchen right now!!! We are talking out Methi or Fenugreek seeds for PCOS here.
Fenugreek Can Improve Insulin Sensitivity
One of the leading causes behind PCOS is often insulin resistance. The pancreas produces a hormone known as insulin which helps regulate blood glucose levels. When you eat a meal, the body converts carbohydrates into sugars. It’s the job of this insulin to facilitate sugar or glucose absorption into cells to generate energy. However, when the body is unable to use this insulin efficiently, blood sugar levels spike. This is insulin resistance. Furthermore, as a result of these unstable blood sugar levels, the pancreas release more and more insulin. This happens to normalize high blood glucose levels, leading to a condition known as hyperinsulinemia. Now, hyperinsulinemia signals the ovaries to produce more androgens, like testosterone. And this is what causes the hormonal imbalance which manifests as PCOS.
Fenugreek is an aromatic plant that has been used in traditional Middle Eastern, Egyptian, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for years. Many of us know it as a natural digestive aid, which is why it’s an intrinsic part of spicy curries and dals. However, fenugreek seeds can improve glucose metabolism in the body. This way, it enhances insulin sensitivity to stabilize both blood sugar levels and hormones.
Fenugreek is one of the best PCOS natural remedies as the seeds are high in soluble fiber. This kind of fiber slows down digestion and hence absorption of sugars from carbohydrates. As sugar absorbs at a slower pace, this becomes an effective method to lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin resistance. On the other hand, the seeds can make insulin more effective at readily converting blood sugar into energy, which keeps blood glucose levels more stable. It comes as no surprise then that these potential anti-diabetic benefits of fenugreek make it an all-natural remedy for diabetics. Scientists have found that fenugreek seeds soaked in hot water can be used as an effective therapy in the control of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Other clinical trials support beneficial effects of fenugreek seeds on glycemic control in diabetics.
Fenugreek for PCOS: Is It Effective?
The same blood-sugar-lowering mechanism that makes fenugreek seeds a natural treatment in the control of Type 2 Diabetes works as an effective PCOS therapy too. Since insulin resistance lies at the heart of PCOS, stabilizing blood sugar levels through improved glucose tolerance makes Fenugreek an effective remedy for PCOS.
Studies have found that the compounds in fenugreek exert beneficial effects on several physiologic markers. These markers include glucose tolerance, inflammation, insulin action, liver function, blood lipids, and cardiovascular health. Since PCOS is associated with low-grade chronic inflammation, high triglycerides levels and lower high density lipoprotein which increases risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, these medicinal benefits of ingesting fenugreek seeds works for women diagnosed with PCOS as well. As a rich source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, Fenugreek seeds can also reverse chronic inflammation caused by attack from free radicals.
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial done in Iran, scientists found that fenugreek seeds extract improved menstrual cycles. It was also found that they reduced polycystic appearing ovaries as viewed through sonography in women suffering from PCOS.
Another study – a collaboration between Indian and American scientists was conducted to determine the efficacy of fenugreek seed extract (patented as Furocyst) on the reduction of ovarian volume and the number of ovarian cysts. The study found that 46% of study subjects showed reduction in cyst size. while 36% of subjects showed complete dissolution of cyst. Additionally, 71% of subjects reported the return of regular menstrual cycle on completion of the treatment, and 12% of subjects subsequently became pregnant. Overall, 94% of patients benefitted from the regimen.
Fenugreek (trigonella foenum-graecum) has been cited in both Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine texts as being useful in the treatment of madhu meha and iksu meha (or diabetes). Several Ayurveda experts believe fenugreek to be one of the best natural herbal treatments for PCOS, along with aloe vera, shilajit, ashwagandha, ashoka, vidarikanda, shatavari and cinnamon.
How to use Fenugreek for PCOS?
Fenugreek seeds are readily available in India and can be found in the spices section all year round. While fenugreek seed powder and paste are available too, we recommend you buy whole seeds to attain maximum nutritional benefits. Make sure you buy from authentic brands – the seeds are bright golden-yellow in color and quite hard. It’s best to store these in an airtight glass container and place in a cool, dark place.
The best way to consume fenugreek seeds for PCOS is to soak a teaspoon overnight in hot water, and consume first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Chew the seeds and swallow; with a cup of water if needed. Some patients also take a teaspoon of soaked methi seeds 15 minutes before other meals. If you are on Metformin, its best to check with your doctor or naturopath on how much fenugreek seeds you should be taking to avoid hypoglycemia.
Other ways to incorporate fenugreek seeds into your diet are:
- Dry roast the seeds for a couple of minutes. Add a teaspoon to curries, dals and stir-fry dishes.
- You can also use whole fenugreek seeds in the tempering for dals and curries.
- Soak the seeds in water to sprout them until tiny green shoots appear. These sprouted fenugreek seeds can be used in a variety of salads and dry dishes.
- Boil fenugreek seeds in water to make a homemade tea flavoured with honey and lemon.
- Dry roast fenugreek seeds for a minute, then crush into a powder. This is an excellent way to incorporate the mild nutty flavour of fenugreek seeds for tempering, seasoning or in pickles as well as homemade sauerkraut.
- Fenugreek seeds can also be ground into a powder and stored in an airtight container. Stir in a teaspoon into curries, dry vegetables and meat dishes. Or add a teaspoon into plain yogurt for a quick power-snack between meals.
In fact, the hypoglycemic effect of fenugreek seeds extends to the leaves as well, as tested in normal and diabetic subjects via research conducted at Indian Council of Medical Research, Hyderabad. While the effect of fenugreek leaves on glycaemia is not as pronounced as fenugreek seeds, it’s not a bad idea to incorporate the whole plant into your diet.
So whenever fenugreek is in season, use the fresh methi greens to make a dry vegetable or add to dals and meat gravies. You can also add dried fenugreek leaves to dough for making methi-parantha or methi-roti. Similarly, dried fenugreek leaves can also be added to dosa and idli batter.
Yes, fenugreek seeds are one of the best PCOS natural remedies, but we highly recommend that you get a blood glucose test and lipid profile test before starting therapy with them. It’s also a good idea to repeat the test 15-30 days later to get a better idea of how this dietary supplement works for you and to adjust dosage accordingly.