Tamarindus indica L. (Caesalpiniaceae) Indian Tamarind, Kilytree, Tamarind, Tamarindo (Medicine)

Tamarindus indica L. (Caesalpiniaceae) Indian Tamarind, Kilytree, Tamarind, Tamarindo

Medicinal Uses (Tamarind) —

For years, the pulp of the tamarind has been used, with good reason, as an antiscorbutic, laxative, and carminative. It is also used as a digestive and to treat bile disorders. Used in a gargle for sore throat, as a liniment for rheumatism when mixed with salt, applied on inflammations, administered to alleviate sunstroke and alcoholic intoxication, to aid the restoration of sensation in cases of paralysis, and as part of a vermifuge ointment. In Eritrea, the pulp is sold for dysentery and malaria; in Indonesia for hair ailments; in Madagascar for worms and stomach disorder; in Tanganyika for snakebite; in Sri Lanka for jaundice, eye diseases, and ulcers; in Cambodia for conjunctivitis; and in Brazil as a diaphoretic, emollient, laxative, and for hemorrhoids. The leaves and flowers are used as poultices for swollen joints, sprains and boils, and lotions or extracts of leaves and flowers for conjunctivitis, dysentery, jaundice, erysipelas, and hemorrhoids, and as antiseptic and vermifuge. Bahamians take the leaf tea for chills and fevers. In Curacao they take the leaf decoction for colds, coughs, diabetes, and sore throats. Jamaicans take it for fever, measles, and pain. The bark is an effective astringent, tonic, and antipyretic, used for asthma, caterpillar rashes, colic, eye inflammations, gingivitis, indigestion, and open sores. The astringent seed is used as a dysentery and chronic diarrhea remedy, and as a paste for drawing boils. Root infusion used for chest complaints and is an ingredient in leprosy prescriptions. Cubans take the root decoction for jaundice and hemorrhage. Many Latinos use the pulp as a gentle laxative, while Cubans use the powder of toasted seed to arrest diarrhea.
In their admirable effort to clear the safer and more efficacious of tropical American folk remedies, for so many people who can’t afford modern prescription drugs, TRAMIL notes that ethanolic extracts are bactericidal, and that the diuretic pulp inhibits the gram(-) bacteria responsible for urinary infections. This suggests a food farmacy approach to cystitis combining the urinary antiseptic properties of cranberry and tamarind in a pleasant tart beverage. TRAMIL also reports antilipoperoxidative and hepatotropic properties, for the aqueous leaf extract, approved by TRAMIL for use in jaundice. They note antibacterial, antispasmodic, and vasodilator properties of the alcoholic extract (DAD, LEG, TRA, WOI).
Khan and Balick (2001) note human studies on tamarind for pain and worms. Tamarind increased bioavailability of other drugs and decreased pain (JAC7:405). Also, it can kill Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae (De et al., 1999). Sambaiah and Srinivasan (1989) note that tamarind stimulates N-demethylase activity. It also stimulated liver microsomal cytochrome p450 dependent aryl hydroxylase.

Indications (Tamarind) —

Abscess (f; WBB); Adenosis (f; JLH); Alcoholism (f; PH2); Amenorrhea (f; KAB; WBB); Anorexia (f; KAP; MAD); Apoplexy (f; DEP); Arthrosis (f; DAD); Asthma (f; DAD; KAB; WBB); Bacillus (1; X10548758); Bacteria (1; AAB; FNF; TRA); Biliousness (f; DEP; KAB;
SUW; WOI); Bite (f; AAB); Bleeding (f; JFM; KAP; MAD; RYM); BO (f; KAB); Boil (f; AAB; DAD; DEP; IHB; WOI); Cancer (f; JLH; KAB); Cancer, abdomen (f; JLH); Cancer, colon (f; JLH);
Cancer, gland (f; JLH); Cancer, spleen (f; JLH); Cancer, uterus (f; JLH); Cancer, vagina (f; JLH); Candida (1; APA; FNF); Chill (f; DAD; JFM); Cholecystosis (1; HH2; PHR; PH2); Cholera (1; AAB); Cold (f; JFM); Colic (f; AAB); Conjunctivosis (f; DAD; IHB; JFM; KAB); Constipation (1; APA; PH2); Cough (f; JFM; SKJ); Cramp (1; FNF); Dermatosis (f; AAB; IHB); Diabetes (f; JFM); Diarrhea (1; APA; FNF); Dizziness (f; HH2); Dysentery (f; DAD; DEP; JFM; WBB); Dysmenorrhea (f; MAD);
Dyspepsia (f; KAB; SKJ); Dysuria (f; GMH; KAB); Earache (f; KAB); Eczema (f; MAD); Edema
(f; WOI); Enterosis (f; WBB); Erysipelas (f; DAD); Escherichia (1; APA); Fever (1; APA; FNF; HH2;
JFM; PHR; PH2; SUW); Fungus (1; APA; FNF); Furuncle (f; WBB); Gas (f; SKJ); Gastrosis (f; KAB); Gingivosis (f; DAD; WBB); Gonorrhea (f; WBB); Hangover (f; DEP; PH2, TGP); Headache (f; MAD); Heartburn (f; MAD); Hemorrhoid (f; DAD; DEP; PH2; WBB); Hepatosis (f; HH2; KAB;
PHR; PH2); Hyperemesis gravidarum (f; BOW); Infection (1; AAB; DAD; FNF); Inflammation (1;
DAD; DEP; FNF); Intoxication (f; DAD; DEP; KAB; PH2); Itch (f; MAD); Jaundice (1; DAD; JFM; MAD; TRA; WBB); Leprosy (f; DAD; WBB); Leukorrhea (f; MAD); Malaria (f; DAD; WBB);
Measles (f; JFM); Morning Sickness (f; AAB; APA); Mucososis (f; IHB); Mycosis (1; AAB; FNF); Myosis (f; SKJ); Nausea (1; APA); Ophthalmia (f; DAD); Pain (1; DEP; FNF; JFM); Paralysis (f;
DAD; KAB); Pharyngosis (f; PH2); Pulmonosis (f; DAD); Rash (f; AAB); Respirosis (f; DAD);
Rheumatism (f; DAD; IHB; WBB); Ringworm (1; APA; KAB); Salmonella (1; AAB); Scabies (f;
KAB); Schistosomiasis (1; AAB; APA); Smallpox (f; KAB); Snakebite (f; KAB; WBB); Sore (f; AAB; IHB); Sore Throat (f; AAB; DEP; JFM); Splenosis (f; JLH); Staphylococcus (1; AAB; APA); Sting (f; SKJ); Stomachache (f; PH2; SKJ); Stomatosis (f; IHB; KAB; PH2); Sunstroke (f; DEP; SKJ); Swelling (f; HH2; KAB; WOI); Syphilis (f; SKJ); Ulcer (f; DAD); UTI (f; DAD; TRA);
Uvulosis (f; KAB); VD (f; WBB); Vertigo (f; HH2; KAB); Virus (1; FNF); Vomiting (f; PH2); Worm (1; APA; DAD); Wound (f; AAB; IHB); Yeast (1; APA; FNF; X10548758).

Tamarind for diarrhea:

• Antibacterial: (-)-epicatechin; acetic-acid; alpha-pinene; alpha-terpineol; beta-ionone; carvacrol; cinnamaldehyde; geranial; geraniol; limonene; linalool; myrcene; nerol; phenol; safrole; tamarindienal; terpinen-4-ol
• Antidiarrheic: hordenine
• Antispasmodic: carvacrol; cinnamaldehyde; geraniol; limonene; linalool; myrcene; pyri-doxine
• Antiviral: (-)-epicatechin; alpha-pinene; cinnamaldehyde; geranial; limonene; linalool; phenol
• Candidicide: beta-pinene; carvacrol; cinnamaldehyde; geraniol; octanoic-acid; tamarindienal
• Candidistat: limonene; linalool
• Carminative: carvacrol; methyl-salicylate; safrole
• Demulcent: mucilage
• Hepatoprotective: hordenine
• Protisticide: acetic-acid
• Vermifuge: carvacrol

Tamarind for infection:

• Analgesic: methyl-salicylate; myrcene; phenol; pyridoxine
• Anesthetic: carvacrol; cinnamaldehyde; linalool; myrcene; phenol; safrole
• Antibacterial: (-)-epicatechin; acetic-acid; alpha-pinene; alpha-terpineol; beta-ionone; carvacrol; cinnamaldehyde; geranial; geraniol; limonene; linalool; myrcene; nerol; phenol; safrole; tamarindienal; terpinen-4-ol
• Antiinflammatory: (-)-epicatechin; alpha-pinene; beta-pinene; carvacrol; cinnamalde-hyde; methyl-salicylate; orientin; vitexin
• Antiseptic: alpha-terpineol; aromadendrene; beta-pinene; carvacrol; furfural; geraniol; limonene; linalool; methyl-salicylate; nerol; oxalic-acid; p-cresol; phenol; safrole; ter-pinen-4-ol
• Antiviral: (-)-epicatechin; alpha-pinene; cinnamaldehyde; geranial; limonene; linalool; phenol
• Bacteristat: malic-acid
• Circulostimulant: cinnamaldehyde
• Cyclooxygenase-Inhibitor: carvacrol; cinnamaldehyde
• Fungicide: acetic-acid; beta-ionone; carvacrol; cinnamaldehyde; furfural; geraniol; lina-lool; myrcene; octanoic-acid; phenol; tamarindienal; terpinen-4-ol
• Fungistat: limonene
• Immunostimulant: (-)-epicatechin
• Lipoxygenase-Inhibitor: (-)-epicatechin; cinnamaldehyde

Other Uses (Tamarind) —

Cultivated mainly for the pulp in the fruit, it is used to prepare beverages, to flavor confections, curries, and sauces (Worcestershire and Pickapeppa), and to make preserves and syrups. “Jugo” or “Fresco de Tamarindo” is a favorite beverage in many Latin American countries and is bottled commercially in some. Some Latins claim that this is the most important “secret” ingredient in sweet and sour sauces and in chutneys. Curacao natives use the pulp to make a soup with cinnamon and sugar (this could well be a food farmacy approach to alleviate mild diabetes). West Indian Dutch mix the pulp with ashes to make a food whose name translates to “cat feces.” In Sri Lanka, the pulp is made into a brine for pickling fish. Javanese roll salted pulp into balls, then steam and sun-dry them. Some cook the whole unripe fruits in curries. Young, immature pods are eaten fresh mixed with spices or fish sauce, pickled like green mango, or added whole to soups, stews, and sauces, such as nam prik ma-kahm. In Africa, the pods are added to detoxify poisonous Dioscorea dishes. Elsewhere, it is used to deodorize fish dishes. In places, the flowers, seedlings, even the leaves are eaten as vegetables in curries. The bark is chewed as a delicacy, flowers are eaten raw in salads or cooked, and seedlings, when about a foot high, are used as vegetables (FAC). Leaves are eaten in curries, salads, and soups. Leaves are also eaten by cattle and goats. In India and West Africa, the leaves are used as fodder for silkworms. Leaves and flowers are useful as fixatives in dyeing. The leaves are used to bleach leaves of the buri palm (Corypha elata Roxb.), which are used for hat-making. The flowers are considered a good source of nectar for honeybees. Seeds, once boiled and peeled, are used as a starchy foodstuff.
Reportedly 70% kernel and 30% testa, testae are separated by roasting or soaking, and the kernels are boiled or fried before eaten like peanuts. Seeds are roasted and eaten, ground to flour, and used as a coffee substitute. Seed oil, though useful as a varnish, is said to be palatable and of culinary quality. Seeds are used for food in India and provide a source of carbohydrate for sizing cloth, paper, and jute products, and a vegetable gum used in the food processing industry. An infusion of the whole pods is added to the dye when coloring goat hides in West Africa. Pulp also used as a fixative with turmeric or annatto in dyeing and has served to coagulate rubber latex. Mixed with sea water, the pulp is used to clean silver, copper, and brass. Twigs used as chewsticks and the bark is chewed as a masticatory. The bark also used in tanning and dyeing, and burned to make an ink. Low-quality fiber from bark of young trees used to make twine or string. Wood of tamarind is very hard and durable, used locally for tool handles, rice pounders, oil and sugar mills, and furniture and turnery, and is said to produce the finest grade of gunpowder charcoal. Wood ashes used in tanning and in de-hairing goatskins. Frequently grown as a dooryard, roadside, or windbreak tree (DAD, FAC, LEG, WOI).
For more information on activities, dosages, and contraindications, see the CRC Handtopic of Medicinal Herbs, ed. 2,  et al. 2002.

Cultivation (Tamarind) —

Can be propagated by seed, sown at 21°C (70°F), in light, well-drained, sunny soils, zone 10, min. temp 15-18°C (59-64°F); or greenwood cuttings in spring or summer; or by air-layering or grafting (Bown, 2001). Seed for planting should be taken from trees yielding heavy crop of well formed rounded pods. Fresh seeds are not suitable for planting. Seeds gathered from April crop may be planted in September. Seeds are soaked 4-5 days in water, then planted about 4 cm deep in baskets, bamboo pots, or a nursery bed. When the seedlings are 60-70 cm tall, in about 9 or 10 months, they are transplanted during the rainy season to groves, where they are spaced 3-7 m apart each way. The richer the soil, the farther apart they should be planted. Often, the seedlings are planted in pits previously prepared with well decomposed manure and allowed to “weather.” Once established, the plants require little attention, except watering during prolonged droughts, loosening of the soil, and an occasional weeding. Trees will grow like any wild tree in 4-5 years. Budding on young seedlings is also possible. Under favorable conditions, tamarinds start bearing at ca. 5 years, but four-year-olds may bear in Malagasy. Some Indian trees reach 14 years old before fruiting. Trees bear copiously up to age 50 or so and then may decline, though the tree may live to be 200 years old. Pods may be left on the tree for 6 months, as the moisture content dwindles to 20% or lower, but are generally gathered when ripe, and the hard pod shell is removed. Pods are picked or shaken from the trees, but it is best to clip the fruit stalks carefully. To preserve, the pods are shelled, the pulp placed in casks and covered with boiling syrup or packed carefully in stone jars with alternate layers of sugar, or the pulp layered with sugar or sprinkled with salt or molded into balls of pulp, to be stored in cool dry places. Mature trees can produce 150-225 kg fruit, half of which may be pulp. But average yields of 80-90 kg prepared pulp prevail per mature tree. Up to 170 kg of prepared pulp per tree has been reported in India and Ceylon. One hundred trees/ha each yielding 200 kg fruit yielding 100 kg pulp translates to 10 MT pulp/ha possible (DAD).

Chemistry (Tamarind) —

Here are a few of the more notable chemicals found in tamarind. For a complete listing of the phytochemicals and their activities, see the CRC phytochemical compendium,  and  1993 (DAD) and the USDA database.
Linoleic-Acid — See also Ceratonia siliqua.
Lysine — See also Prunus dulcis.
Mufa — See also Persea americana.
Tamarindienal — Antibacterial; Bitter; Candidicide; Fungicide.
Tartaric-Acid — ADI = 30 mg/kg; Acidifier; Additive; Antioxidant Synergist; Irritant; Sequestrant; LDlo = 5000 orl dog; LD50 = 4360 mg/kg orl rat.

Theobroma cacao L. (Sterculiaceae)

Cacao, Chocolate, Cocoa

Theobroma cacao L. (Sterculiaceae)

Medicinal Uses (Cacao) —

Reported to be antiseptic, diuretic, ecbolic, emmenagogue, and parasiticide. Mexican Amerindians apply the seed oil to wounds. Venezuelans use the oil or “butter” on burns, cracked lips, eruptions, mastalgia, sore genitals, inserting them into the rectum or vagina for proctosis or vaginosis. Kuna Indians use the leaves on wounds, the flowers for eye infestations, and the pulp of the fruits for parturitions. Colombians use the leaf tea as a diuretic cardiotonic. Decoctions of the bark and/or seeds are used in Amazonia for scalp and skin conditions. Cocoa butter is massaged onto to wrinkles in the hope of correcting them. And creams containing aminophylline are massaged onto cellulite, possibly reducing the unattractive cottage-cheese ripples of cellulite in middle aged matrons. Chocolate contains two or more xanthines rather related to aminophylline, also used in some topical cellulite creams. Like coffee and tea, chocolate is getting a lot of press as an antioxidant beverage.
Chocolate, as we take it in the U.S., might be more lipogenic than lipolytic. Chocolate can boost serotonin levels and boost endorphin levels with a powerful result; all brain chemicals are positioned at optimal levels for positive moods and renewed energy. Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine and is a good source of magnesium, important in serotonin manufacture and in stabilizing mood. If the pharmaceutical firms can promote their pharmaceutical serotoninergic drugs for obesity, saying that serotonin sends a satiety signal to the body, then I suppose our herbal serotoninergics could help as well. Ancient Mayans drank chocolate containing thermogenic caffeine and theobromine, mixed with hot peppers, containing thermogenic capsaicin, a potentially synergic mix of three thermogenics from two of our spices. Recently, Dullo et al. (1999), though working with green tea, showed that the epigallocatechin, which also occurs in chocolate, was potentially synergetic as a thermogen with caffeine and perhaps the other xanthines. They measured the 24-hour energy expenditure of 10 healthy men receiving 3 daily doses of caffeine (50 mg), or the extract (containing 50 mg caffeine and 90 mg epigallocatechin), or a placebo. Compared with placebo, the extract (in their case, green tea, not chocolate) induced significant increases (~4%) in energy expenditure. The extract contains a high amount of catechin polyphenols, which may work with other phytochemicals to speed up fat oxidation and thermogenesis. I did not treat coca, the source of cocaine, in this topic on spices, but in a sense the coca leaf is a flavoring, being used for a century to flavor Coca-Cola. And the coca leaf (Erythroxylum), like the cocoa seed (Theobroma), contains several anorectic alkaloids that might help to curb hunger, and that might be synergistic with the pinca-pinca (an Andean Ephedra), used in teas there, and containing two more anorectic alkaloids, ephedrine and psuedoephedrine. Bring in the cathine and cathinone from the khat in Ethiopia, and the synephrine from orange peel, sweeten with Stevia, and you have my herbal AntiOBESitea, a thermogenic pot pourri that would surely be declared illegal, but would surely be thermogenic and anorectic. And probably as safe as some of the legal weight-loss pharmaceutical combinations. Coca-Cola, as originally formulated, would also be illegal. My dad used to call a Coca-Cola a “dope.”
And more and more, science seems to back up cocoa reputation as an aphrodisiac, inducing a few addicted chocaholics. Even Aztec Indians considered it aphrodisiac. Somehow, chocolate may be more effective in women than men. The xanthine alkaloids, caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline have cGMP-phosphodiesterase inhibition activity, which some hint might be Via-gra-like activity. That puts a different slant on the “Food of the Gods.” There’s even a marijuanalike antidepressant called anandamide. Technically, it is called an anesthetic. And it also helps headaches. In JAMA (Vol. 276{8}:584e, 1996) we read of topical treatment of erectile dysfunction with a cream containing 3% aminophylline, 0.25% isosorbide dinitrate, and 0.05% co-dergocrine mesylate. Thirty-six erectile dysfunction patients were given either active cream or placebo for alternating weeks; 21 reported full erection and satisfactory intercourse with the active cream. The active cream was more effective in psychogenic than organic impotence (eight of nine with psychogenic impotence achieved full erection vs. four of eight with neurogenic impotence and two of seven with arterial insufficiency). In the lab, the cream increased penile arterial flow and induced tumescence in 24 patients. Their conclusion might lead to more optimism for other more herbal topicals: “Topical treatment with a cream containing three different vasodilators might be considered before intracavernous injections of vasoactive agents, particularly in psychogenic impotence.” One can look at my database and find several other promising vasodilators. I’d not be afraid to try celery’s apigenin, chocolate’s caffeine, theobro-mine, theophylline, onion’s quercetin, poppies’ papaverine, and/or ginger’s zingerone, but I’d be leery of the rubefacient capsaicin.
According to an article in the Chicago Sun Times, people who suffer extreme depression as victims of unrequited love have an irregular production of phenylethylamine. Such individuals often go on a chocolate binge during periods of depression. Chocolate is particularly high in phenyleth-ylamine, perhaps serving as medication. Theophylline is a potent CNS and cardiovascular stimulant with diuretic and bronchial smooth muscle relaxant properties. Recently, this drug was proven effective in preventing and treating apnea in premature infancy.
And Sutton (1981) reports the collapse and death of a three-year old bitch that had eaten a 250 g package of cocoa. Postmortem examination revealed congestion of lungs, liver, kidney, and pancreas, and petechial and ecchymotic hemorrhage of the thymus, all compatible with acute circulatory failure. The stomach contained high concentrations of theobromine and/or caffeine. Though used cosmetically, cocoa butter has been reported to have allergenic and comedogenic properties in animals. Cocoa extracts are GRAS (§182.20). Tyler (1994) produces a chart comparing various caffeine sources to which we have added other rounded figures:

Cup (6 oz.) espresso coffee 310 mg
Cup (6 oz.) boiled coffee 100 mg
Cup (6 oz.) instant coffee 65 mg
Cup (6 oz.) tea 10-50 mg
Cup (6 oz.) cocoa 13 mg
Can (6 oz.) cola 25 mg
Can (6 oz.) Coca-Cola 20 mg
Cup (6 oz.) mate 25-50 mg
Can (6 oz.) Pepsi Cola 10 mg
Tablet caffeine 100-200 mg
Tablet (800 mg) Zoom (Paullinia cupanaa) 60 mg

In humans, caffeine, 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine, is demethylated into three primary metabolites: theophylline, theobromine, and paraxanthine. Since the early part of the 20th century, theophylline has been used in therapeutics for bronchodilation, for acute ventricular failure, and for long-term control of bronchial asthma. At 100 mg/kg, theophylline is fetotoxic to rats, but no teratogenic abnormalities were noted. In therapeutics, theobromine has been used as a diuretic, as a cardiac stimulant, and for dilation of arteries. But at 100 mg, theobromine is fetotoxic and teratogen. Leung (1995) reports a fatal dose in man at 10,000 mg, with 1000 mg or more capable of inducing headache, nausea, insomnia, restlessness, excitement, mild delirium, muscle tremor, tachycardia, and extrasys-toles. Leung also adds “caffeine has been reported to have many other activities, including mutagenic, teratogenic, and carcinogenic activities; .. .to cause temporary increase in intraocular pressure, to have calming effects on hyperkinetic children…to cause chronic recurring headache” (Leung, 1995).

Indications (Cacao) —

ADD (1; DAD); Adenosis (f; HH2); Allergy (1; FNF); Alopecia (f; CRC); Angina (1; BOW); Asthma (1; APA; DAV; FNF); Bacteria (1; FNF); Bite (f; DAD); Bleeding (f; IED); Bronchosis (1; APA; FNF); Burn (f; APA; IED; JFM); Cellulite (1; BRU; FNF; HAD); Chafing (f; APA; FEL); Childbirth (f; CRC; DAD; JFM); Cold (1; APA; FNF); Congestion (1; APA); Cough (f; APA; CRC; DAD); Cramp (1; FNF); Cystosis (f; KOM; PHR; PH2); Debility (f; TRA); Dermatosis (f; IED); Diabetes (f; KOM; PHR; PH2); Diarrhea (1; APA; FNF; KOM; PHR; PH2); Eczema (f; DAV); Enterosis (1; APA; PHR; PH2); Eruption (f; JFM); Fever (f; APA; CRC); Flu (1; APA); Hemorrhoid (1; CRC; FNF); Hepatosis (1; FNF; PHR; PH2); High Blood Pressure (1; BOW; GMH); Hyperkinesis (1; DAD); Infection (1; APA; FNF; PHR); Inflammation (1; FNF);
Malaria (f; CRC); Mastosis (f; APA; CRC; JFM); Nephrosis (f; CRC; PHR; PH2); Nipple (f; FEL); Obesity (f; BRU; FNF; HAD); Ophthalmia (f; CRC; DAD); Parturition (f; APA); Pregnancy (f;
APA); Proctosis (f; JFM); Rheumatism (f; CRC); Scabies (f; DAV); Screw Worm (f; JFM); Snakebite (f; CRC); Thyrosis (f; HH2); Tumor (1; CRC); Vaginosis (f; JFM); Virus (1; FNF); Water Retention (1; FNF); Worm (f; CRC); Wound (f; DAD; JFM); Wrinkle (f; APA; CRC; DAD).

Cacao for asthma:

• Antiallergic: ferulic-acid; kaempferol; linalool; quercetin
• Antiasthmatic: caffeine; protocatechuic-acid; pyridoxine; quercetin; theobromine; theo-phylline
• Antibronchitic: theophylline
• Antihistaminic: caffeic-acid; chlorogenic-acid; kaempferol; linalool; luteolin; proantho-cyanidins; quercetin; rutin; vitexin
• Antileukotriene: caffeic-acid; chlorogenic-acid; quercetin
• Antioxidant: (-)-epicatechin; caffeic-acid; caffeine; catalase; catechol; chlorogenic-acid; cyanidin; epigallocatechin; ferulic-acid; isovitexin; kaempferol; luteolin; p-coumaric-acid; p-hydroxy-benzoic-acid; polyphenols; proanthocyanidins; protocatechuic-acid; quercetin; quercitrin; rutin; vanillic-acid; vitexin
• Antipharyngitic: quercetin
• Antiprostaglandin: caffeic-acid
• Antispasmodic: caffeic-acid; ferulic-acid; kaempferol; linalool; luteolin; p-coumaric-acid; protocatechuic-acid; pyridoxine; quercetin; quercitrin; rutin; theophylline; vale-rianic-acid; valeric-acid
• Bronchodilator: theobromine; theophylline
• Bronchorelaxant: linalool
• Cyclooxygenase-Inhibitor: kaempferol; polyphenols; quercetin
• Expectorant: acetic-acid; linalool
• Lipoxygenase-Inhibitor: (-)-epicatechin; caffeic-acid; chlorogenic-acid; epigallocat-echin; esculetin; kaempferol; luteolin; p-coumaric-acid; polyphenols; quercetin; rutin
• Mast-Cell-Stabilizer: quercetin

Cacao for cellulite:

• Anorectic: theobromine
• Anticellulitic: theophylline
• Antiedemic: caffeic-acid; coumarin; proanthocyanidins; quercitrin; rutin
• Antiobesity: caffeine
• Catabolic: caffeine; quercetin; rutin
• Collagen-Sparing: caffeic-acid; chlorogenic-acid
• Collagenic: proanthocyanidins
• Diuretic: caffeic-acid; caffeine; chlorogenic-acid; dopamine; glycolic-acid; kaempferol; luteolin; quercitrin; theobromine; theophylline
• Lipolytic: nicotinic-acid
• Phosphodiesterase-Inhibitor: caffeine

Cacao for diarrhea:

• Antibacterial: (-)-epicatechin; acetic-acid; caffeic-acid; chlorogenic-acid; esculetin; fer-ulic-acid; gentisic-acid; kaempferol; linalool; luteolin; p-coumaric-acid; p-hydroxy-ben-zoic-acid; polyphenols; protocatechuic-acid; quercetin; quercitrin; rutin; vanillic-acid
• Antidiarrheic: polyphenols
• Antispasmodic: caffeic-acid; ferulic-acid; kaempferol; linalool; luteolin; p-coumaric-acid; protocatechuic-acid; pyridoxine; quercetin; quercitrin; rutin; theophylline; vale-rianic-acid; valeric-acid
• Antiviral: (-)-epicatechin; caffeic-acid; caffeine; catechol; chlorogenic-acid; ergosterol; ferulic-acid; gentisic-acid; kaempferol; linalool; luteolin; polyphenols; proanthocyani-dins; protocatechuic-acid; quercetin; quercitrin; rutin; theophylline
• Astringent: formic-acid
• Candidicide: ferulic-acid; quercetin
• Candidistat: linalool
• Hepatoprotective: caffeic-acid; chlorogenic-acid; ferulic-acid; luteolin; polyphenols; proanthocyanidins; quercetin
• Protisticide: acetic-acid; kaempferol

Other Uses (Cacao) —

Fermented seeds, called cacao beans, are used for commercial cocoa, chocolate, and cocoa butter, which is widely used in baked goods, beverages, cakes, candy, confectionary, desserts, ice creams, pastries, and pudding. Fermented seeds are roasted, cracked, and ground to give a powdery mass from which fat is expressed. This is the cocoa from which a popular beverage is prepared. In the preparation of chocolate, this mass is mixed with sugar, flavoring, and extra cocoa fat. Mexican chocolate and the Spanish xocolata a la pedra are flavored with cinnamon. Traditionally, Native Americans mixed cacao with corn meal to make nutritious beverages and gruels. Toasted cacao beans are mixed with mamey seeds in making texate, a refreshing beverage. In Tabasco, ground cacao beans are mixed in dough to prepare pozol, a fermented maize dough. The resulting product is called “chorote.” Pulp of the fruit is sucked as a sweet snack or preserved, crystallized, or made into alcoholic beverages and vinegar. The husk is toasted until black and made into atole negro. It also contains a pigment that is said to be useful as a food colorant (FAC). Milk chocolate incorporates milk as well. Cocoa extracts occur in my two very favorite liqueurs, Bailey’s Irish Cream and Creme de Cacao. Cocoa powder is used to coat California’s Dry Monterey Jack cheese. Cocoa butter is used in confections and in manufacture of tobacco, soap, and cosmetics. Cocoa butter has been described as the world’s most expensive fat, used rather extensively in the emollient “bullets” used for hemorrhoids. “Sweatings,” which flow from the pulp surrounding the beans during fermentation, are made into a jelly in Brazil. Juice, alcoholic beverages, vinegar,sugar, and pectin could also be produced. Every 1000 lb of dried cocoa beans produces 930 lb of dried pod husk, which can be used as a source of potash or ground and added to livestock feed, in limited amounts (DAD, FAC).
For more information on activities, dosages, and contraindications, see the CRC Handtopic of
Medicinal Herbs, ed. 2,  et al. 2002.

Cultivation (Cacao) —

Propagation may be by cuttings, buddings, or graftings, but seeding is cheaper. Seeds germinate at maturity and are viable only a short time. They may be stored 10-13 weeks if moisture content is kept at 50%. Soon after picking, pulp is removed from seed, which are planted in shaded nursery beds or baskets. Transplant in a few months (when ca. 0.6 m tall) into shaded fields at 2.4 x 2.4 m or 3.6 x 3.6 m. Spacing is closer if soils are poor and elevations above 300 m. Fields should remain shaded for 3 years. Remove floral buds until trees are 5 years old. Cacao is often intercropped with other trees of economic value such as bananas, rubber, oil palm, or coconut. Weeding is by hand or herbicides. Irrigation may be practiced, but drain ditches should always be provided to prevent excess water. Responds to fertilizers, mostly in the absence of shade. Recommended is 5 cwt urea, 2.5 cwt triple superphosphate, 10 cwt potassium sulfate/ha. Windbreaks are usually provided. Capable of bearing pods by the end of the second year, maximum yields are usually obtained by 8-10 years, some producing pods for over 100 years. Although fruits mature throughout the year, usually only two harvests are made. In West Africa, the main harvest begins in September, extends to February, with a second smaller harvest in May-June. From fertilization to harvesting the fruit requires 5-6 months. Harvest season lasts about 5 months. Pods are cut from trees and allowed to mellow on the ground. Then, pods are cracked and the beans removed, the husks are burned. Beans are fermented in leaf-lined kegs 2-8 days before drying in sun, at which time they change from purple to brown. Beans are then bagged and shipped. Further processing includes roasting, crushing, and separating out the kernel, grinding the nibs, and extraction of about half of the fat. The world low production yield is 29 kg/ha in American Samoa, the international production yield 346 kg/ha, and world high production 2000 kg/ha in Haiti. Yields of 3375 kg/ha of dry beans are possible on good plantations. The oil content (35-50%) suggests potential oil yields of more than 1750 kg/ha. Average yields run 0.5-10 kg/tree; 0.5-2.5 MT beans/ha. Over 3375 kg/ha of dry cacao beans have been produced on plantations well manured, well shaded, and with excellent control of weeds, pests, and diseases. In 1980, the U.S. is estimated to have consumed more than 75,000 MT of cocoa butter, in a business amounting to nearly $600 million. Chocolate manufacturers consumed nearly half. One ton went into suppositories, 10-20% of which are made with a cocoa butter base. Malaysia and Brazil are the main sources for cocoa butter, providing over half of U.S. imports. Cocoa butter imports were 19,000 MT worth $279 million in 1990.

Chemistry (Cacao) —

Caffeic acid occurs in the unfermented beans. Cocoa butter contains mainly triglycerides of fatty acids that consist primarily of oleic, stearic, and palmitic acids. Over 73% of the glycerides are present as monounsaturated forms (oleopalmitostearin and oleodistearin), the remaining being mostly diunsaturated glycerides (palmitodiolein and stearodiolein), with lesser amounts of fully saturated and triunsaturated (triolein glycerides).
Here are a few of the more notable chemicals found in cacao. For a complete listing of the phytochemicals and their activities, see the CRC phytochemical compendium,  and , 1993 (DAD) and the USDA database.
Caffeine — Adenosine Antagonist; Analeptic 200 scu mus; Analgesic-Synergist; Antiapneic; Anti-apoptotic; Antiasthmatic 5-10 mg/kg orl/man; Anticancer; Anticarcinogenic; Anticariogenic; Anti-dermatitic; Antiemetic; Antifeedant; Antiflu; Antiherpetic; Antihypotensive 250 mg/day/orl/man; Antinarcotic Antiobesity; Antioxidant; Antirhinitic 140 mg/day/orl/man; Antiserotoninergic 40 ipr rat, 40 scu rat; Antitumor; Antitumor (Lung); Antivaccinia; Antiviral; Apoptotic; Arrhythmogenic
1500 mg/man; cAMP-Phosphodiesterase-Inhibitor; cGMP-Phosphodiesterase-Inhibitor; Cardiotonic 10-25 orl dog, 65-500 orl cat; Catabolic; Choleretic; Coronary-Dilator; CNS-Stimulant 30 orl rat, 100 orl mus; Diuretic; Energizer 20-200 mg/man; Ergotamine-Enhancer; Herbicide; Hypertensive; Hypoglycemic; Insecticide; Lipolytic; Myorelaxant; Neurotoxic; Phosphodiesterase-Inhibitor; Positive Inotropic; Respirastimulant; Spasmogenic 1500 mg/man; Stimulant; Tachycardic 1500 mg/man; Teratogenic 14 orl rat; Topoisomerase-I-Inhibitor 0.1 nM, 75 [M; Topoisomerase-II-Inhibitor 99 mM; Vasodilator; LDlo = 192 orl hmn; LD50 = 192 orl rat; LD50 = 127-1200 orl mus; LD50 = 200 orl rat; LD50 = 247-355 orl rat; LD50 = 224-246 orl rbt.
Linoleic-Acid — See also Ceratonia siliqua.
Theobromine — Anorectic; Antiasthmatic 10 mg/kg/orl/man; Anticellulitic; Arteriodilator; Bron-chodilator; Cardiotonic; cAMP-Phosphodiesterase-Inhibitor; cGMP-Phosphodiesterase-Inhibitor; CNS-Stimulant; Diuretic 300-600 mg/man/day; Emetic; Fetotoxic 100 mg/kg; Herbicide IC41 = 100 ppm; Myocardiotonic; Myorelaxant; Myostimulant; Stimulant; Teratogenic 100 mg/kg; Vasodilator; LD50 = 200 orl cat; LD50 = 789 mg/kg ipr mus; LD50 = 1356 mg/kg orl mus; LD50 = 950 mg/kg orl rat.
Theophylline — ADI = 60-200 orl/man/day; Allergic; Antidote (Charcoal & Propanolol); Antiap-neic; Antiasthmatic 5 mg/kg/orl/man; Antibradyarrhythmic; Antibronchitic; Anticellulitic; Antiem-physemic; Antineuralgic; Antispasmodic 100 | M; Antirhinitic; Antiviral; Arteriodilator; Bronchod-ilator; cAMP-Inhibitor IC50 = 0.06 mg/ml; Cardiovascular 30 mg/kg orl rat; cAMP-Phosphodiesterase-Inhibitor; cGMP-Inhibitor; Choleretic; CNS-Stimulant; Diuretic 15 mg/kg ivn rbt; Fetotoxic 100 mg/kg; Herbicide IC58 = 100 ppm; Hypertensive; Hyperuricemic; Hypoglyce-mic; Myocardiotonic; Myorelaxant 100 [lM; Potitive Inotropic; Prostaglandin-Secretor 10 mg/kg orl rat; Stimulant; Tachycardic; Teratogenic; Vasodilator; LDlo = 100 orl cat; LD50 = 600 orl mus; LDlo = 350 orl rbt; LDlo = 115 ivn rbt; LD50 = 200 scu mus.

Trigonella foenum-graecum L. (Fabaceae) Fenugreek, Greek Clover, Greek Hay

Trigonella foenum-graecum L. (Fabaceae) Fenugreek, Greek Clover, Greek Hay

Medicinal Uses (Fenugreek) —

Said to be used for aphrodisiac, astringent, demulcent, diuretic, emmenagogue, emollient, expectorant, lactagogue, restorative, and tonic. Ecbolic and spermicidal activities have also been reported. Mucilaginous seeds are believed to be carminative, emollient, tonic, and vermifugal, and are used for chapped lips, diarrhea, oral ulcers, rheumatic conditions, and stomach irritation. Indian women believe the seeds promote lactation. Chinese use the seed for abdominal pain, chilblains, cholecystosis, fever, hernia, impotence, hypogastrosis, nephrosis, and rheumatism. Malayans poultice the seeds onto burns and use them for chronic coughs, dropsy, hepatomegaly, and splenomegaly. Crushed leaves are taken internally for dyspepsia (CRC, KOM,LIL, PH2, RIN, TAD).
Weed (2002) suggests heavy consumption of certain spices when estrogen levels are down. Seeds like caraway, celery, coriander, cumin, poppy and sesame, mustard and anise, fennel and fenugreek, all contain phytoestrogens, as do their oils, says Weed. She suggests using these seeds “lavishly” when cooking or making tea with any one of them, drinking 3-4 cups a day “for best results” (Weed, 2002). Taken as a tea, or used to season food, fenugreek seed are a cheap and pleasant way to ease menopausal symptoms, restore blood sugar balance, and increase libido. Brew a tablespoonful (15 mg) of seeds for no more than 15 min in a cup of hot water. “Make phytosterol-rich fenugreek seed tea your wake-up and good-night brew; you’ll have easier hot flashes and flushes and, when you do flash, your sweat will smell like sweet maple syrup” (Weed, 2002). But she cautions that “Fenugreek promotes fertility.” Fenugreek is one of three estrogenic plants in the original Lydia Pinkham’s formula. Could Lydia Pinkham’s in large doses have had mastogenic properties to go along with its antidysmenorrheic and anticlimacteric properties? Following my comments in The Green Pharmacy (1997), about the potential that fenugreek might have for augmenting the size of micromastic breasts, I have received many letters and phone calls suggesting that yes, it worked. There now are at least three commercial breast-enhancing products, usually priced rather highly, containing fenugreek. I can’t guarantee that it enlarges the breast, but I’ll bet on it. Fenugreek is often recommended to enhance the flow of milk in women who are deficient, e.g., mothers of twins who have only enough milk for one. I’m convinced it helps. Many lactation consultants recommend it. In the Integrative Herb Guide for Nurses, Libster (2002) suggests fenugreek for hormone balance, noting that several mothers in her practice used fenugreek successfully to increase milk production and flow.
Fenugreek has been documented to lower the cholesterol in a few clinical trials. And containing at least five hypoglycemic compounds, it clearly has some promise in type 2 diabetes and Syndrome X. Three and one-half ounces of fenugreek flour in breads consumed daily was good at lowering fasting blood sugar. One-half ounce (15 g) powdered fenugreek in water lowers postprandial blood glucose (TAD). In Turkey, diabetics take 2 tsp ground seed with a glass of water, a.m. and p.m. (SPI). I think these activities more important than those approved by Germany’s Commission E, dermatitis and loss of appetite. Commission E also acknowledges that it is antiseptic, rubefacient, and secretolytic. Treating rats with seed for four weeks significantly decreased the quantity of calcium oxalate deposited in the kidneys, supporting Saudi folklore (JE26:249).
Fenugreek is not often on the lips of cancer patients, but of the spices considered in this topic, it is the best source of selenium, except for specially grown garlic and Brazil nut. According to Boik (2001), at least 35 in vitro studies suggest selenium has cytotoxic effects on different cancer lines, usually at levels of 3-9 |jM. Twenty more show antitumor activity in animal studies. Epidemiology suggests that 200 \ig selenium/day will prevent colon, lung, and prostate cancer. Selenium has been used in some studies with brain cancer patients, reducing the side effects of chemotherapy. All in all, studies suggest selenium supplementation may help prevent and treat cancer. Selenium, in small amounts, is needed for antioxidant glutathione peroxidase. Effects on cancer may also accrue to redox activity. Boik (2001) identifies selenium as a PTK-Inhibitor that may secondarily help affect CAMs, induce apotosis, inhibit angiogenesis, inhibit cell migration and invasion, inhibit eicosanoid effects, inhibit histaminic effects, inhibit NF-kB activity, inhibit platelet aggregation, and inhibit TNF. So we have one trace mineral that could reduce the incidence of cancer. Boik calculates tentative human dosages as 2.3-5.8 mg/day (as scaled from animal antitumor studies), suggesting a target dose of 3.7 mg/day selenium, way above the 200 | g normally prescribed to humans for noncancerous conditions (Boik, 2001).
And Trigonelline has been shown to significantly inhibit liver carcinoma in mice. It is reportedly used as a pessary for cervical cancer in China. In my database, fenugreek is the best source of diosgenin (to 1.9%), which is one starter material for natural progesterone, which, topically applied, better than oral progesterone, can help or help regulate breast cancer, cervical dysplasia, dysmen-orrhea, endometrial cancer, endometriosis, hot flashes, menopause, metrorrhagia, osteoporosis, ovarian cysts, PMS, and uterine fibroids.
U.S. Patent No. 5,900,329 describes the oral administration of a fenugreek extract to strengthen skin and horny substances, particularly claws, hooves, and nails of animals, and to stimulate or revitalize growth of epidermal structures, like hairs, based on trigonelline, trigonellic acids and biotin. The patent claims it takes 3-4 months for fenugreek alone to accomplish this, while with ginseng and/or horsechestnut added, the stimulus is evident within 1 month. Thus, the patent covers propecic claims. Caveat emptor (Dean, K., 2000, Plant Patents, Herbalgram No. 50., p. 31).
According to Sambaiah and Srinivasan (1989) fenugreek stimulated liver microsomal cyto-chrome p450 dependent aryl hydroxylase. Patel and Srinivasan (1985) suggest that fenugreek decreased levels of phosphatase and sucrase activities.

Indications (Fenugreek) —

Abscess (f; WOI); Adenosis (f; CRC; HHB); Aging (f; BOW); Alactea (1; PH2; WOI); Allergy (f; PED); Alopecia (1; APA; KAP; MAD); Anemia (1; GMH; SPI); Anorexia (2; APA; CAN; KOM; PH2; JAC7:405); Aposteme (f; JLH); Arthrosis (1; KOM); Atherosclerosis (1; BGB; FNF; SKY); Backache (f; BOW); Bacteria (1; FNF; WOI); Boil (f; BGB; GMH; KAP); Bronchosis (f; APA; PH2); Burn (f; CRC); Calculus (1; APA); Cancer (1; APA); Cancer, abdomen (1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, bladder (1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, breast (1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, cervix (1; BOW); Cancer, colon (1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, eye (1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, gland (1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, groin (1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, intestine (1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, kidney (1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, liver (1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, parotid (1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, rectum (1; FNF; JLH; MAD); Cancer, spleen (1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, stomach (1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, testes (1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, throat (1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, uterus (1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, uvula (1; FNF; JLH); Carbuncle (f; GMH; KAP); Catarrh (f; PH2); Cellulosis (f; BOW); Cervicosis (f; BOW); Childbirth (1; APA; BGB; BOW); Chilblain (f; CRC); Cholecystosis (f; CRC); Colic (f; KAP); Constipation (1; SKY; SPI); Colitis (f; PH2); Cough (f; APA; PED; PH2); Cystosis (f; JLH; SKJ); Debility (f; MAD); Dermatosis
(2; APA; CRC; FNF; PHR; PH2); Diabetes (NIDDM) (2; APA; BRU; CAN; CRC; FNF); Diarrhea (1; APA; CRC; KAP); Dysentery (f; HHB; KAB); Dysgeuzia (f; KAB); Dysmenorrhea (f; BGB);
Dyspepsia (2; APA; CAN; FNF; PHR); Eczema (1; BGB; PHR; PH2); Edema (1; BGB; BOW; FNF; SKJ); Enterosis (f; APA; BGB; CRC; PH2; WOI); Exhaustion (f; MAD); Fever (f; APA; CRC; PH2); Fistula (f; CRC); Fungus (1; FNF); Furunculosis (f; BGB; HHB; PHR); Gas (1; APA); Gastrosis (f; APA; BGB; CAN; GMH); Gout (f; BGB; CAN; CRC; GMH); Hay Fever (f; PED); Hemorrhoid (f;
MAD); Hepatosis (1; CRC; FNF; JLH; KAP); Hernia (f; APA; BGB; CRC; PH2); High Blood
Pressure (1; CAN; FNF); High Cholesterol (2; APA; BRU; CAN; FNF; SKY); High Triglycerides (1; BGB; FNF; SKY); Hyperglycemia (1; FNF); Hyperlipidemia (1; BGB; FNF); Impotence (f; APA; CRC; PH2); Infection (1; APA; FNF; WOI); Inflammation (2; APA; BRU; FNF; KOM; PH2);
Kidney Stone (1; JE26:249); Leukorrhea (f; KAP); Lymphadenosis (f; BGB; CAN); Mastosis (f; JLH); Myosis (f; BGB; CAN); Nephrosis (f; APA; CRC; JLH); Neuralgia (f; APA; CRC); Neurasthenia (f; BOW; GMH); Ophthalmia (f; JLH); Orchosis (f; JLH); Osteomyelosis (f; HHB; MAD);
Oxaluria (1; APA); Pain (1; PH2; TAD); Parotosis (f; JLH); PMS (f; BGB); Proctosis (f; JLH; MAD);
Rachosis (f; MAD); Respirosis (f; APA; PH2); Rheumatism (f; APA; CRC); Sciatica (f; CRC);
Scrofula (f; GMH; HHB); Smallpox (f; KAB; KAP); Sore (f; APA; BGB; MAD; PH2); Sore Throat (1; APA; CRC; MAD); Spermatorrhea (f; BOW); Splenosis (f; HHB; KAP); Splenomegaly (f; CRC; KAB); Stomatosis (f; APA); Stone (1; JE26:249); Stress (1; FNF); Swelling (f; HHB; KAB; PHR); Syndrome-X (1; SYN); Syphilis (f; SKJ); Tuberculosis (f; APA; CRC; HHB; MAD; SPI); Tumor (f; CRC); Ulcer (1; APA; PNC); Ulcus cruris (f; HHB); Uterosis (f; JLH); Vaginosis (f; BGB); VD
(f; SKJ); Vomiting (f; PH2); Water Retention (1; FNF); Wound (f; BGB; HHB).

Fenugreek for dermatosis:

• Analgesic: coumarin; gentianine; pyridoxine; quercetin
• Antibacterial: apigenin; carpaine; gentianine; isoquercitrin; kaempferol; lignin; luteolin; p-coumaric-acid; quercetin; quercitrin; rutin
• Antidermatitic: apigenin; biotin; pyridoxine; quercetin; rutin; vitexin
• Antiinflammatory: apigenin; coumarin; diosgenin; fenugreekine; genistein; gentianine; gitogenin; kaempferol; luteolin; orientin; quercetin; quercitrin; rutin; salicylates; super-oxide-dismutase; vicenin-2; vitexin
• Antiseptic: kaempferol; oxalic-acid; trigonelline
• Antistress: diosgenin; gamma-aminobutyric-acid
• COX-2-Inhibitor: apigenin; kaempferol; quercetin
• Cyclooxygenase-Inhibitor: apigenin; kaempferol; quercetin
• Demulcent: mucilage
• Fungicide: coumarin; formononetin; genistein; p-coumaric-acid; phytic-acid; quercetin
• Immunomodulator: saponins
• MDR-Inhibitor: genistein

Fenugreek for diabetes:

• Aldose-Reductase-Inhibitor: coumarin; genistein; isoquercitrin; kaempferol; luteolin; p-coumaric-acid; quercetin; quercitrin; rutin; vitexin
• Antiaggregant: apigenin; coumarin; genistein; kaempferol; phytic-acid; pyridoxine; quer-cetin; salicylates
• Anticapillary-Fragility: quercetin; rutin
• Antidiabetic: pyridoxine; quercetin; rutin
• Antioxidant: apigenin; genistein; isoorientin; isoquercitrin; isovitexin; kaempferol; lig-nin; luteolin; orientin; p-coumaric-acid; phytic-acid; quercetin; quercitrin; rutin; super-oxide-dismutase; vitexin
• Antiperoxidant: isoorientin; p-coumaric-acid; quercetin
• Antiradicular: isoquercitrin; kaempferol; quercetin; rutin
• Antithrombic: quercetin
• Hypocholesterolemic: diosgenin; formononetin; genistein; lignin; nicotinic-acid; phytic-acid; rutin; trigonelline
• Hypoglycemic: coumarin; fenugreekine; gentianine; nicotinic-acid; quercetin; quercitrin; salicylates; trigonelline
• Insulinase-Inhibitor: nicotinic-acid
• Insulinogenic: quercetin
• Insulinotonic: nicotinic-acid
Fenugreek for high cholesterol:
• Antiaggregant: apigenin; coumarin; genistein; kaempferol; phytic-acid; pyridoxine; quer-cetin; salicylates
• Antiatherogenic: rutin
• Antiatherosclerotic: genistein; pyridoxine; quercetin
• Antidiabetic: pyridoxine; quercetin; rutin
• Antihomocystinuric: pyridoxine
• Antiischemic: genistein
• Antilipoperoxidant: quercetin
• Antioxidant: apigenin; genistein; isoorientin; isoquercitrin; isovitexin; kaempferol; lig-nin; luteolin; orientin; p-coumaric-acid; phytic-acid; quercetin; quercitrin; rutin; super-oxide-dismutase; vitexin
• Choleretic: apigenin; kaempferol; luteolin; nicotinic-acid; p-coumaric-acid; quercitrin
• Diuretic: apigenin; carpaine; fenugreekine; gamma-aminobutyric-acid; isoquercitrin; kaempferol; luteolin; quercitrin
• Hepatoprotective: diosgenin; luteolin; quercetin
• Hypocholesterolemic: diosgenin; formononetin; genistein; lignin; nicotinic-acid; phytic-acid; rutin; trigonelline
• Hypolipidemic: formononetin; phytic-acid
• Hypotensive: apigenin; carpaine; fenugreekine; gamma-aminobutyric-acid; gentianine; isoquercitrin; kaempferol; quercetin; quercitrin; rutin; vitexin

Other Uses (Fenugreek) —

Widely cultivated as a condiment crop, fenugreek seeds, containing coumarin, are used in curries, salads, and soups (LIL). Seeds are also used in teas, blending nicely with mint flavored combinations (RIN). Roasted seeds are used as a coffee substitute. In Lebanon, a milkshake-like hypotensive beverage is made by grinding the green seed after soaking. In Greece, raw or boiled seeds are eaten with honey. In North Africa, fenugreek is mixed with breadstuffs. I made my own artificial maple syrup with fenugreek seed boiled in water, sweetened with stevia. It had that great maple scent, better on ice cream than on pancakes. The predominant scent in many prepared curry powders, it can override all other aromas in an Indian spice shop. In south India, it is found in chutneys, lentil dishes, pickles, and vegetables, and with potato, eggplant, and cauliflower (AAR). Pastirma (or basderma), a spiced dried beef in Armenia and Turkey, is cured with fenugreek powder, garlic, allspice, cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, and colored red with paprika and ground red chiles. This spice mixture is called “chaiman” (or chemen), as is the fenugreek itself (AAR). Turks report that a boned piece of beef, roughly 40 x 20 x 10 cm, is rubbed with salt and allowed to dry. The spice mix, 34% powdered garlic, 20% fenugreek, 6.5% cayenne, 1.5% cumin and mustard, and 38% water, is applied to the meat, drying to a red crust. The meat is then heated to 60-65°C for around 4 hours, then left to cure up to 12 days at ambient temperature (SPI). Jewish hilbeh is made by pouring boiling water over about 2 tbsp of ground fenugreek and letting it sit undisturbed for several hours overnight. The resulting jelly is beaten at high speeds, adding a pinch of salt, a little lemon juice, some cayenne pepper (or garlic, ginger, caraway or cardamom seeds, chopped tomatoes, finely chopped chiles, and coriander). Refrigerated hilbeh will keep for a week (AAR). Harem women are said to eat roasted fenugreek seed to attain buxomness. Mixed with cottonseed, the seed increases the flow of milk in cows but imparts the fenugreek aroma to milk. Plant serves as a potherb, much favored in India. Sprouts and seedlings are said to make good salad dressed with oil and vinegar. Sprouted seeds can be braised in olive oil with parboiled cardoon stalks. For sprouts, soak 1 or 2 tbsp seeds in warm water for a few hours, then lay them on wet paper towel in a sealed, opaque glass container. One-fourth inch is ample growth for the sprouts (AAR). In the Near East, sprouting seeds are added to a lamb stew traditionally flavored with honey. In India, green leaves are eaten as methi. Fresh methi, cooked as a green, is a favorite served with fish. Highly seasoned with turmeric, cumin, ajowan, fresh ginger, and chiles, the leaves are mixed with cornmeal and fried as fritters. In Iran, fresh or dried, leaves are used to add strong flavor to stews, soups and ashes, thick, nourishing, amin-course soups. Leaves are usually first sauteed in oil with other green vegetables and herbs, e.g., celery, leeks, parsley, scallions, or spinach. Fenugreek is in ghormeh sabzi, a rich, dark green mix of herbs, beans, dried limes, and some meat (AAR). With its bitter taste, somewhat like lovage and celery, it might be useful in vegetarian bouillon (LIL). Seeds and leaves may be brewed into a pleasant tea. For northerners, attempting to make liqueurs that call for tonka or vanilla, fenugreek seed may be used as a substitute (LIL). I often add the seed to homemade herbal liqueurs and teas. The liqueur I call “Lydia’s Downer” has hypoglycemic fenugreek and several reportedly hypotensive herbs, fennel, elecampane, parsley, tarragon, and a dash of rue (caution: photosensitizer), steeped in the cheapest gin (LIL). I now suggest adding methi leaves to Lydia’s Downer as an anesthetic. I also suggest a “Lydia’s Lady’s Liqueur” with angelica, anise, cohosh (not containing formononetin, as per studies in 2001), fenugreek, fennel, and red clover flowers as a poor feminists alternative to Remifemin. The celery-scented oil is used in butterscotch, cheese, licorice, pickle, rum, syrup, and vanilla flavors. Used also in cosmetics, hair preparations, and perfumery. Indians grow the plant as a forage. Considered a good soil renovator. Fenugreek is a source of diosgenin, used in the synthesis of hormones. As with other chemurgic crops, a large percentage must be thrown into the pot to extract a small percentage (1-2% on a dry weight basis) of pharmaceutical (diosgenin); proteins, fixed oils, oleoresins, e.g., coumarin, mucilages, and/or gums might also be extracted. Organic residues might be used for biomass fuels or manures, inorganic residues for “inorganic” chemical fertilizers. The husk of the seed might be removed for its mucilage, with the remainder partitioned into oil, sapogenin, and protein-rich fractions. Seed mucilage (ca. 45%) could be prepared from the marc left after extraction of the fixed oil (used as a lactagogue). Its relatively high viscosity makes it a good emulsifying agent to be used in pharmaceutical and food industries. Due to its neutral ionic properties, it is compatible with other drugs or compounds sensitive to acids. Plant is used to make horse hair shiny. Powdered seeds are used locally for a yellow dye (AAR, CRC, FAC, LEG).
For more information on activities, dosages, and contraindications, see the CRC Handtopic of Medicinal Herbs, ed. 2,  et al. 2002.

Cultivation (Fenugreek) —

For temperate zone instructions for North Americans, I readily recommend The Big topic of Herbs (TAD). The following comments are derived largely from other sources, oriented more to the third world. Seeds long retain their viability. Seed may be sown in the fall in mild climate, or in the spring farther north, and germinate in 4-5 days. Seed should be sown in close drills ca. 7.5 cm apart, the rows ca. 45 cm apart, or broadcast at ca. 22.5 kg/ha. Deep plowing and thorough harrowing are essential. Clean cultivation, either mechanical or manual, is necessary. In southern India, fenugreek is intercropped with coriander, gingelly, or Bengal gram. For seed production, potash and phosphoric acid have been recommended; for forage, nitrogenous manures. When grown as an irrigated crop, seeds are broadcast rather thickly onto beds at the rate of 25-30 kg/ha and then stirred into the soil. Irrigation should start immediately after sowing and continue when necessary. Seeds ripen some 3-5 months after planting. Pods retain their seed shell (don’t readily shatter). Manually, the plants are uprooted and dried a few days before threshing. Seeds are then further dried. Seed yields of 500-3500 kg/ha may be expected; fodder/forage yields 20-10 MT/ha (LEG, LIL).

Chemistry (Fenugreek) —

Here are a few of the more notable chemicals found in fenugreek. For a complete listing of the phytochemicals and their activities, see the CRC phytochemical compendium,  and  1993 (DAD) and the USDA database.
Diosgenin — See also Costus speciosus.
Fenugreekine — Antiinflammatory; Antivaccinia; Antiviral; Cardiotonic; Diuretic; Hypoglycemic; Hypotensive; Viristat.
Selenium—Analgesic 200 |Jg/day; Anorectic; Antiacne 200 |Jg/day; Antiaggregant; Antiangiogenic 2 |jM, 230 |Jg/kg orl rat; Anticancer; Anticirrhotic; Anticoronary 200 |Jg/day; Antidandruff; Antidote (Mercury); Antikeshan; Antileukemic 1.6 mg/kg ipr mus; Antileukotrienic; Antimelanomic 480 |jg/kg; Antimetastatic 480 |Jg/kg; Antimyalgic 200 |Jg/day; Antiosteoarthritic; Antioxidant 100-200 (-400) |Jg/man/day; Antiproliferant 2 |jM; Antiradicular 100-200 (-400) |Jg/man/day; Anti-Syn-drome-X 100-200 (-400) ng/man/day; Antitumor 100-200 (-400) ng/man/day; Antitumor (Brain) 38-150 |Jg/kg; Antitumor (Breast) 0.8 mg/kg scu mus, 150 |Jg/kg diet rat, 230 |Jg/kg orl rat; Antitumor (Lung) 240 | g/kg diet; Antiulcerogenic; AP-1-Inhibitor 2-50 | M; Apoptotic; Depressant; Fungicide; Immunostimulant 100-200 (-400) | g/man/day; NF-kB-Inhibitor; ODC-Inhibitor; Polyamine-Synthesis-Inhibitor; Protein-Kinase-C-Inhibitor IC50 = 2-50 |jM; Prostaglandin-Sparer; VEGF-Inhibitor; RDA = 10-75 ^g/day; PTD = 1 mg/day.
Trigonelline — Antimigraine; Antiseptic; Antitumor (Cervix); Antitumor (Liver); Epidermal-Stimulant; Hypocholesterolemic; Hypoglycemic 500-3000 mg/man/day, 50 mg/kg orl rat; Mutagenic; Osmoregulator; Propecic; LDlo = 5000 scu rat; LD50 = 5000 orl rat.

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