“Hello, can you help me?” asked the man at the markets. “I am looking for a lady who is full of colour, flavour and carries herself with style … do you know of anybody?” added the man. “Indeed I do,” replied the lady across the market stall, “you must be looking for Miss Turmeric I believe … she is the only one fitting that description,” the lady continued.

There are many spices that should be in everyone’s diet and one of the best is Turmeric. It appears that although it has been in use for thousands of years, especially in India, China and other Asian countries, turmeric is a relative new comer to the west. Yet by simply putting it in your food and drink, it can do so much good, both in prevention and healing of dozens of conditions. These benefits can happen either directly or indirectly from its use. So lets learn something about this wonderful herb, and start adding it to your daily routine.

The earliest mentions I can find with the use of turmeric started during the Vedic period, which began about 1500 B.C., where it was first used as a dye, and since then it has been used for culinary, cosmetic and medicinal purposes. Nobody seems to know exactly where it originated from, but probably the best guess is western India, which is the Indo-Gangetic Plains of the Indian subcontinent.

Somewhere from there, it must have spread quickly across the trade routes into various Asian countries where it grows wild and especially into China, and also into Africa. We know this because it has been used in China medicinally also for thousands of years.

In China, as in many cultures, yellow was very important and only the emperor was allowed to wear yellow.

As turmeric travelled up into medieval Europe, it was used as an alternative to saffron, gaining its name Indian saffron, because saffron was then and is still now, very expensive.

There is a product called Curcuma paper, or Turmeric paper, which was developed around the 1870’s, where a paper was brushed in a tincture of turmeric and allowed to dry. When this paper came into contact with an alkaline substance it turned a reddish-brown. This was used for many years by chemists, but eventually, it was replaced with litmus paper.

The Eclectic/naturopaths of early America never really caught on to turmeric’s benefits, but now they are really starting to get in on the act. This is due to turmeric being a powerful anti-inflammatory and very high in antioxidants.

Weed File?

There are at least 133 species of turmeric, but medicinally, there are two types of turmeric and sadly both are called ‘turmeric’, just to add confusion, and they are Indian turmeric – Curcuma longa and Javanese turmeric – Curcuma zedoaria. Indian turmeric has a yellow/orange colour and Javanese turmeric has white flesh and the Chinese call it E Zhu.

The Chinese herbalist splits up the Indian turmeric into two groups, one is the Yu Jin, which is the primary central tuber, and Jiang Huang, which is the rhizomes or fingers.

In Chinese Traditional Medicine, qualities of the part can be considered warm and cool, amongst other things, and here the Yu Jin is cool, but the E Zhu and the Jiang Huang are warm, therefore they would be used in different ways. But all are good for neck, shoulder and upper back pain.


How To Use Turmeric

The uses of turmeric are really just growing in the West, even though it has been very well known in the East. Somehow, I just feel that many people are put off by this strange yellow to orange powder. I think partly the reason for being put off is due to its ‘pungency’ as putting in too much into your meal can be very strong, but honestly it can be added to many meals and drinks for that matter.

Turmeric has wonderful medicinal benefits worth using. A previous herbalist that I use to work with, use to by it by the barrel full for his clients, so much that he used it in his formulas. Some of the more evidence-based uses have been: Arthritis, eczema, endometriosis, pain, tendinitis, atherosclerosis, bursitis, carpel tunnel syndrome, cancer, cataracts, cirrhosis of the liver, gallstones (preventative), halitosis, periodontal disease, heart attacks, HIV/AIDS and indigestion.

Herbal Teas

Turmeric can make an excellent and health-o-licious tea, latte or what ever brew you design.

Simple Turmeric Tea

  • Finely chop 1/4 teaspoon of fresh turmeric rhizome and place it into a cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Allow to steep for five minutes
  • You can add some sweetener such as raw honey, stevia, or erythritol and a slice of lemon.

Customised Turmeric Teas

Turmeric can have quite a range of other teas and herbs added to it to create fascinating taste sensations, that are worth investigating, even just for the fun of it.

Some of the herbs and fruits that could be added or combined with turmeric could be: Hibiscus, Pomegranate, Orange, Lemon, Guava, Cardamom, Cranberry, Ginger, Mint, Saffron,  Lemongrass, Bergamot, Cinnamon, Pepper, Cloves, Nutmeg, Moringa, Fennel and Tulsi.

Golden Milk

Ingredients

  • 2 cups coconut milk, creamier the better
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1cm / 3/8″ of grated ginger
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg powder
  • To sweeten use either raw honey, stevia, or erythritol

Method

  • Place all the ingredients in a saucepan (except honey, but the dry sweeteners, yes) and stir well.
  • Heat over medium heat until it starts to bubble
  • Turn down to low and simmer for about 5 minutes so that the flavours combine
  • Strain out the grated ginger
  • Add honey now if using honey and stir
  • Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and nutmeg

Serves 2, because its good to share

Culinary Uses

It is one of the main ingredients of curries and curry powders, and even more so with commercially made powders. Depending on what you are trying to achieve, if you add turmeric to the oils at the beginning of the cooking process, you will get a more ‘pungent’ dish, but if you add during the cooking then you will have a more milder flavour.

I won’t add any recipes here, as really there would have to be thousands of them out there, but I would certainly invite you to hunt one down and enjoy it. Quite simply. it wouldn’t take much to tempt me, because I enjoy a little curry powder in my egg and lettuce sandwiches.

Although its the rhizomes that are usually dried and made into powder for cooking etc., some folks use the leaves to cook the food in or for flavouring, for example, fish and sweets, as the leaves promote a warm, rich and sweet aroma and others use the flower in their cooking, this is done in Thai cooking. The leaves are picked during the growing season.

A do-it-yourself Curry Powder

Stir and mix together, 10g of ginger, 5g of cayenne pepper, 30g of turmeric powder, 30g of cardamon powder and 30g of coriander seed powder. Place in a recycled herb shaker and use when needed.

Health Uses of Turmeric

Traditional Ayurvedic uses have been to treat inflammation, gastric disorders and coughs and colds. If you want to ‘up-the-ante’, as they say, add a little pepper into the mix as this increases the absorption rate of the constituents. This is caused by the ‘piperine’ in pepper, slightly irritating the stomach lining, allowing the constituents to pass through, ultimately creating better efficacy. Or another way to assist with absorption is to eat it with healthy fats, such as coconut or olive oils, this is because curcumin is ‘fat soluble’. When I personally use curcumin, and extract of turmeric, I often throw in a little turmeric to assist it, as whole herbs are generally better than extracts, due to the synergistic workings of herbs.

It can be used as or in a poultice, or directly placed on cuts or minor burns, infected wounds, bruises, acne, ringworm, sprains, and oedema, and it has been used to alleviate itching or hair removal. Remember that turmeric can stain.

Some suggest that you should not use turmeric when you are trying to conceive, that is, falling pregnant, as it may reduce fertility, or even not to use it during pregnancy, or that you shouldn’t use turmeric long term. If anyone is unsure, then don’t use therapeutic doses. I am personally not sure why this is so, and I will present my argument like this:

The Indian women have been using turmeric in their meals basically for thousands of years, they were breastfed from the moment they were born by mothers who ate turmeric and until the moment they died, they would have consumed turmeric every day of their lives, yet India’s population was 1.37 billion in 2019. Doesn’t sound like a problem to me, maybe some better studies are needed.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Turmeric

With TCM, you really need to divide the turmeric into two groups, one is the tuber, which is the primary central tuber or round, and the other is the rhizome or fingers that come off the tuber, as these have different energy and flavours and affect different organs, and therefore has different actions.

The tuber (Yu Jin)

  • Reduces associated pains and moves Blood and breaks Stasis
  • Regulates the Liver and relieves patterns of Stagnant Qi with pain
  • Clears the Heart and Cools the Blood
  • Relieves Stagnation and clears Heat in the Liver and Gallbladder

The Rhizome (Jiang Hunag)

  • Unblocks Stasis and moves Blood
  • Brings about the movement of Qi and reduces pain
  • Clears the meridians and expels Wind and moves Blood to relieve pain

Oil of Turmeric

‘doTERRA’, one of the leaders in essential oils suggest Turmeric oil internally for:

  • Supporting healthy glucose and lipid metabolism
  • May enhance cellular antioxidant enzymes (e.g. glutathione)
  • May help support healthy nervous and cellular function
  • Shown to increase curcumin potency and absorption
  • Could promote healthy immune function and response

Externally

  • Maintains clean and healthy-looking skin and reduces blemishes

For further info contact doTERRA

Gardening Uses of Turmeric

Although turmeric is grown mainly for its ‘tuber/rhizome crop’, it does have a beautiful floral spike with dainty yellow to cream flowers peeking out of pockets. You can get different varieties that produce different flowers too. The plant itself does have a worthy looking stalk and lance-shaped leaves, which can add interest to the garden, giving shape, variety and colour to the garden.

Turmeric can be a very productive crop and in one season if grown well, one plant should produce a bucketful of healthy brown rhizomes, which are a orange yellow on the inside.

Other Uses

Due to its powerful yellow colouring ability, turmeric is excellent as a natural dye, this not only includes cloths, silk and cotton, but it is used to colour medicines, paints and varnishes, and also foods, such as cheese and yogurts and confectionaries.

Warning, warning!

I must add, that turmeric really does have a wonderful ability to stain, and if you are using the extract curcumin, as I have done, the tiniest bit can spread like you wouldn’t believe. Just get a speck on your fingers and for some strange reason it ends up ‘everywhere’!


How to Grow Turmeric

Turmeric is a tropical and subtropical herbaceous perennial plant that is part of the Zingiberaceae family, typically, it is propagated during the spring from either its primary central tuber (sometimes called rounds) that are actually a ‘modified stem’, or from the side shoots called rhizomes, which are also called fingers. The plant can produce actual tuberous roots, which form at the distal ends of the normal roots, these are of no real value.

The reason these are classified as modified stems is due to the fact that they have ‘nodes and internodes. Therefore, it is not a root crop.

The plant can grow to a height of 1m /3′ or more and its leaves are of a lance shape. The spread of the rhizome is unknown, as in, depending on its conditions it could be large or small.

It has a pocket lined floral spike of about 20cm / 8″ long, that is yellow-green in colour and its actual flowers are yellow to creamy white popping out from those pockets, but it does have other variations of colours with pinks.

Turmeric prefers growing in well drained soils that are rich in humus and also prefers a slightly acid soil. It can be planted in either full sun (very hot regions should reduce to part sun) or shade, but give it plenty mulching to prevent weeds competing against it and to preserve moisture. Cuttings and division is normally done in spring and if you are growing in cool to cold climates, then usually the crop be will smaller.

From Seed

The seed from the turmeric flower is sterile, so you cannot propagate from its seed (although some varieties may be viable). I would personally believe that once it was, but due the man crossbreeding to develop more productive varieties etc., that now its sterile. And honestly it is quicker and easier to grow from the rhizomes.

From Cuttings

You can grow turmeric from both the rhizomes, which are the fingers of the sides and the primary central tubers; and when taking cuttings, it must have at least one ‘tooth bud’ or eye/horn. The easiest place to find your rhizomes is at the fruit and veggie shop, just make sure you find the healthiest and freshest piece you can find, or order online.

Place these into a shallow pot of potting mix that is about the same size or slightly larger as the rhizome itself. Only cover the rhizome until the toothed bud is just poking out of the mix. This will now need to be kept over and above 20C / 68F and keep the soil moist and out of the sun. All going well, you should see shoots coming up in about 3 to 4 weeks, once the plant is established, then you can either plant it into a slightly larger pot or out into the garden.

From Division

Division is similar to propagating with cuttings as you are simply dividing the same, but now you are separating the sections of the rhizome and the stalk combined. Simply dig up the whole clump out of the ground, split apart the mass of rhizomes, trying to keep sections with at least a couple of buds on each. Replant these pieces into the ground or pots; support them especially if their tall and water them in.

Maintenance

Normally the only pruning that you will need to do is when the stalks die down at the end of autumn or beginning of winter, just to make them look nicer. Otherwise keep the ground slightly moist during the hotter growing months and allow it to become a little dry during the colder and cooler months.

Pest and Diseases

Turmeric normally doesn’t have too many problems with pests and disease, but it does get a few issues. The two pests you should be looking out for are red spider mite and scale, these normally can be controlled by washing or spraying them off with water, horticultural soap or using some other natural controls, such as, lace wings, lady beetles, birds, hoverflies, small wasps and ‘predacious’ thrips and mites.

The diseases that it make get are rhizome rot and leaf spot, the rhizome rot can usually be controlled by using well-draining soils and the leaf spot can sometimes be prevented by plenty of ventilation or controlled by a natural anti-fungal spray or you could try spraying a mix of 1/2 a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to 4 litres of water / 1/2 teaspoon to a gallon.

Soil and Fertiliser

As mentioned above, make sure your soil is well draining, slightly acidic with lots of rotted compost and manure, and mulch on top. During its growing season, from spring to late autumn, add some organic pelletised or liquid fertiliser once a month.

Climate and Region

Turmeric is a tropical to subtropical plant, so of course it will grow better if this is where you live. If you are in much cooler climates, then it would be a good idea to either keep it in a pot where you can move it to warmer spots, or keep it in a hot house/ heated glass house during the colder months, as it will need to be kept above 18C / 65F.


Collecting

You will know when it is time to harvest and that is when you see the leaves start to go yellow and die down, which is usually around the end of autumn into early winter. Once you see this happen, use either a shovel or garden fork to dig up the clump of rhizomes with the stalks, shake out the dirt, and keep a few rhizomes for next season or replant them if you live in a warmer climate.

Typically it takes 8 to 10 months depending where you live to produce a mature crop, so if you live in tropical to subtropical climates then you can plant, harvest and replant every 6 months all year round.

Drying

  • Place the rhizomes into a saucepan and completely cover with just enough water
  • Boil the rhizomes for about 40 to 50 minutes
  • If there is any water left over just strain it off
  • At this stage you can either carefully remove the skin from the rhizomes or just leave them on
  • Now cut them up into thin slices, no more than 3mm / 1/8″ thick
  • Evenly spread over a dry paper towel or cloth towel not allowing any to touch each other
  • Dry them by exposing to direct sunlight.
  • Natural drying can take up to 2 weeks or more depending on where you are and how dry it is
  • You can dry these also in a dehydrator at 70C / 158F until completely dry
  • Oven drying is one of the quickest, drying at 77 to 94C / 170 to 200F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours

Making Turmeric Powder

Once you have thoroughly dried your turmeric slices, place them into a blender or coffee or spice grinder, and grind until you have powder. It doesn’t hurt to sieve the powder occasionally to remove the fines so that you can keep breaking down the larger particles.

Storage

Very dry powder should last for up to a year or two if stored in a air-tight container out of sunlight. For real freshness and aroma, always dry and grind turmeric freshly and only produce what you will use each time. And if you are making your own, you will know where it came from and that there are no adulterants added.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

Common names:

Indian turmeric, Indian saffron, Yellow ginger, Karmin, Haldii, Haridra, Gauri, Curcuma, Curcuma domestica, Curcuma rotunda and Yellow turmeric

Botanical Name:

Curcuma longa

Parts used:

Rhizome or tuber

Dosage:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 4.0 – 12.0 grams

Main actions:

Anti-inflammatory, aromatic, anti-platelet, antioxidant, hypolipidaemic, digestive, choleretic, blood purifier, stomachic, carminative, cholagogue, bile stimulant, detoxifier and regenerator of liver tissue, tonic, astringent, analgesic, antifungal, antibacterial, alterative, anti-cancer, and anti-tumour

Indications:

Peptic ulcer – includes helicobactor, dyspepsia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, Enhances phase 1 & 2 liver detoxification, asthma, topical for chronic skin disorders, cholesterol, liver and gallbladder disease/insufficiency, salmonella, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, cancer preventive, eczema, cardiovascular disease preventative, digestive weakness, psoriasis, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, diarrhoea, epilepsy, and pain. Plus, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease, cystic fibrosis, hypercholesterolaemia

Constituents:

Borneol, eugenol, alpha-pinene, alpha-terpineol, azulene, beta-carotene, caffeic acid, caryophyllene, cineole, diarylheptanoids – yellow pigments, essential oil, curcuminoids, curcumin, methyloxylated curcumins, sabinene, sesquiterpene ketones, ar-turmerone, guaiacol, limonene, linalool, 1,8-cineole, p-coumaric acid, p-cymene, vanillic acid, zingiberene, vitamins, minerals, protein and bitters

Safety concerns:

Caution with high doses in anti platelet and anticoagulant drugs, also with gallstones, obstructive jaundice, acute bilious colic and toxic liver disease

Adulterants:

Adulterated with similar species or colourants



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

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Herbal Panda

“Greetings Mr Fenugreek, I hear that you are such a handy and capable fellow”, said an earnest looking man as Mr Fenugreek was busily working. “Yes I am, very much so in fact,” replied Mr Fenugreek. “I have been helping many folk for a very long time, and I’m sure I can help you too.”

You know, we find different peoples around the place, but strangely enough, no matter how different they seem to be, they can have similar strengths and abilities, and this is comparable to three other friends to Mr Fenugreek and they are Mr Comfrey, Mr Garlic and Mr Irish Moss.

Fenugreek can be used in place of Comfrey when dealing with healing, especially with bones and Fenugreek can be used instead of or in conjunction with Garlic, in which it boosts the benefits of garlic, and the seeds are comparable to Irish moss.

Fenugreek, and its botanical name – Trigonella foenum-graecum is one of the oldest used herbs known to man, and it has also been very beneficial to animals as well, even before it was used for humans, such as, cattle, pigs, and chickens as apparently they liked the taste of it, its supposed to increase milk supply, improve their coats and even enlarge the egg size of chickens.

The word ‘Trigonella’ is used to describe its three-lobed or three-angled leaves and the term ‘foenum-graecum’ basically means Greek hay. Fenugreek has certainly been around for a very long time, as it is recorded that the Pharaoh, King Tut, had it in his tomb after he died in 1323 B.C. Long before it was used by the Greeks and Romans as a medicine it was used to feed livestock. Here, it was mixed with insect damaged or mouldy hay to encourage their livestock to eat it, and then it turned out that if the animals were sick, they would only pick out the fenugreek and eat it, and wouldn’t eat anything else. And we called them dumb animals? I have read where veterinarians still give fenugreek to encourage sick animals to eat.

Originally from the European Mediterranean coast, it spread all round the Mediterranean and was grown from Morocco to Turkey and ultimately from India and to China.

The Indian physicians used it to treat tummy upsets, bronchitis and even arthritis, and to improve milk supply in their women, and the Chinese doctors used it to treat muscle pains and hernias, from fevers to gallbladder issues and impotence, and the earliest mention of Chinese doctors using it I can find is in 1057 A.D. for the treating of kidney complaints. (If you have or believe that you may have a hernia, please go and see your doctor.)

It was used by Arabian and African women gain weight and enlarge their breast size, and as it was mentioned in one piece of Arabian medical literature, it is “for alluring roundness of the female breast” and also the women from Syria to Libya, roasted the seeds also to gain weight and enlarge their breasts as well.

I have read that these effects are due to fenugreek slowing down the rate at which the liver enzymes break down oestrogen, but this does not appear to affect women when lactating.

Herbs should be used for healing, but apparently according to the Historian Flavius Josephus, when the future Roman Emperor Vespasian commanded his troops to climb the walls of Jerusalem, the Jewish defenders mixed fenugreek to the oil so that the attackers could not easily climb their ladders.

John Gerard, the superintendent of Lord Burleigh’s Gardens in the 16th century wrote when speaking of Colewort, “The same being applied with pouder of Fenugreeke, taketh away the paine of the gout”.

And finally, did you know that fenugreek is one of the major ingredients to the contraceptive pill, possibly due to it containing precursors to progesterone, which may mean it can be a help to peri-menopausal women.


How to use Fenugreek

Fenugreek can be used in a number of ways and two of the most well known methods are as a tea, which is quite simple to make, and can be made several different ways depending on what you are trying to achieve, and the other is sprouting the seed to include in different meals. Culinarily the seeds and it’s powdered form can be used in those famous Indian curries, but it can also be used in marinades, chutneys, pastries, pickles, and brines, and it has a spicy, somewhat pungent and bitter celery or maple aroma. If you lightly roast the seed, it gains a sweet maple syrupy like flavour. If you want to make your own fenugreek powder, just make enough to use each time, as it can lose it flavour quickly.

Commercially, it is used as a source of imitation maple flavouring, plus it is used in flavouring vanilla essence, caramel and butterscotch creations.

Fenugreek Herbal Teas

Fenugreek teas are very easy to make with an unusual bitter maple flavour.

The simplest fenugreek tea

  • Take 1/2 a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds and put them into a cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Add sweetener if required such as raw honey or stevia
  • And enjoy.
  • A simple addition to the tea is light squeeze of lemon juice

A more therapeutic version of fenugreek tea

  • Crush 1 to 2 teaspoons of fenugreek tea
  • Place them into a small saucepan
  • Add just over a cup of water
  • Bring it to a boil
  • Gently simmer for 15 minutes
  • Take it in two lots of half a cup, 1/2 in the morning and 1/2 in the afternoon
  • And for extra boost eat the seed when you finish the drink

If you gently and slowly roast the seeds it can be used as a coffee substitute.

Culinary uses of Fenugreek

It appears to have been the Egyptians who may have been the first used fenugreek as a culinary herb, but we do know that the Indians added it to their curries, but it is also used in Persian, and Ethiopian dishes. The Jewish and Arab communities call it Halbah or Helbah and use it in a sweet called ‘halva’. I won’t add or suggest any Indian curry recipes that include fenugreek simply due to the fact that there are thousands upon thousands of them out there that are simply just so delicious, but I do encourage you to find one you like and give it a try. And let me know how you wen’t and I’d love to see a photo of it!

But two ideas I would like to suggest are how to make fenugreek berries and how to sprout fenugreek yourself, which actually has higher nutritional value than the seeds, plus added fibre.

Fenugreek Berries

Depending on the size of the salad or meal soak for 24 hours 2 to 4 tablespoons of fenugreek seeds in water. Depending on the weather, this make take a little longer. After the soaking period drain off the water, then add the jelly like soft berries to a tossed salad or any other dish you wish to add them too.

How to sprout Fenugreek

Equipment
  • A glass jar that holds a bit more than two cups
  • A piece of gauze, old stocking, curtain netting or similar
  • A large rubber band to fit firmly over the top of the jar
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons of Fenugreek seeds
  • A supply of fresh pure water
How to do
  • Place the seeds into the glass jar
  • Add approximately 2 cups of water
  • Place the mesh over the top of the jar and fasten on with the rubber band
  • Allow to soak overnight or at least for 8 hours
  • After the soak, drain off the water through the mesh
  • Wash the seeds with fresh water and tip that off
  • Stand the jar with the seeds upside down and leave on a good angle to drain. (This can be done in the kitchen sink dish drainer)
  • Twice a day, wash the seeds with fresh water and repeat the process above
  • After each rinse, roll the jar to loosen up the seeds
  • Depending on the weather, your sprouts should be ready in about 2 to 4 days, or, about 1 to 3cm / 3/8 to 1 1/4″ long
  • If you’re not going to use them all immediately, then store them in the fridge, but allow them to breathe

Once they have reached your preferred length, they can be simply eaten raw used in your lunches, in sandwiches or in different types of salads such as green, summer, potato and pasta. But don’t forget fruit salads with Papaya or mangos, let alone on toast with avocado, cream cheeses, or ginger jams or marmalades and lemon butter. As well as many vegetable dishes, stir-fries or just a garnish to decorate your meals.

If you grow the fenugreek in pots or close by in your garden, you can also harvest the leaves, which can be used in salads, sandwiches, as a steamed green vegetable, plus in stews and soups. These leaves should be picked young and used fairly quickly to enjoy their freshness, which have a similar flavour to fresh peas.

Fenugreek’s medicinal uses

Fenugreek has many medicinal virtues helping with all sorts of upper respiratory issues, inflammation inside and outside the body and digestive problems such as an inflamed gastrointestinal system, plus peri-menopause, a possible aphrodisiac to lowering cholesterol or improving milk production in mothers to breast enlargement, or even helping with bad breath by just chewing on a few seeds (be careful they can be hard, allow them to soften a bit). The simple beauty of many of the complaints it can help with, can be provided by drinking its tea specifically, or eating the sprouts or leaves.

Because fenugreek is a vulnerary, (it promotes healing of bodily damage) it can assist in the healing of wounds, and the suggestion I would like to make, is that you can use it as a poultice or a compress, which is similar, to draw out toxins from the body, helping with ulcers, skin irritations, bruises, boils and abscesses on the skin, as well as simple things such as speeding the healing of wounds and other skin problems.

Lots of other herbs and not just fenugreek, can be used either as just the herb itself or mixed with other herbs to gain further benefits that each added herb may give, so this type of preparation or technique below, can be used with other herbs.

Fenugreek Poultice

  • Either obtain as much fenugreek powder or grind up enough whole seed either in a mortar and pestle or use an electric coffee grinder until you have enough to cover the desired area with a thick smear, say 6mm/ 1/4″
  • If you want to increase the blood circulation then you can use a hot poultice at no more then 41C / 105F or if you want to cool inflammation you can make a cold poultice
  • Here you could use a herbal decoction for the liquid or even a vegetable oil or raw honey, plus add a few drops of essential oil to gain extra benefit
  • You can add a little charcoal too
  • Mix in enough liquid to make it into a thick paste
  • Smear it thickly over the area to be treated
  • Cover the area with plastic such as ‘cling wrap’
  • Then wrap around with a cloth or towel

Examples of a herbal decoction could be chamomile or dandelion and an example of oil could be olive, castor or coconut oils. The best time to apply a poultice is just before going to bed, but if you need it through the day, and sometimes you may need to, and require mobility, wrap around with plastic cling wrap, then a linen cloth and tie off without cutting off circulation or creating pain, or you may need a 10cm/4″ bandage wrapping from the thinner part of the limb to the thicker part.

Sometimes you can place the thick paste onto a linen cloth and fold it and then apply this to the area, or you can put it into muslin bag and place this onto the area as well. Many do it this way.

So why the difference between hot and cold poultices?

Let’s say you’ve got a month old injury, you’ve had a fall and hurt your knee and now it is still swollen, some what sore at times, and when you feel the swollen area its like thick gravy under plastic, but cold. This is when you would use a hot poultice, because you want to remove the stagnation and free up the fluid underneath. This can happen so much so that the bruise that would have occurred a few days after the accident can finally come through, and even hurt, so be aware.

A cold poultice is designed to ‘calm’ down’ the inflammation similar to a cold pack you would put on a sprain, numbing and reducing pain. This is done by reducing fluid leakage by constricting vessels. This reduces swelling, pressure, inflammation and muscle spasms, that are common sources of pain.

Fenugreek Water

The two main uses for fenugreek water is for diarrhoea and dyspepsia. One of the principles behind the effectiveness of fenugreek is the mucilaginous substance, which is 1/3 of the seed. So wherever it goes throughout the body, it creates a protective layer between ‘where it hurts’ and what’s around it.

  • Simply add 35 grams/ 1 oz of fenugreek seeds to a saucepan
  • Bring to a boil, then turn back to gently simmer for 15 minutes
  • Turn off and allow to cool
  • Strain and drink whilst the condition continues

Fenugreek Oil

  • For a massage oil you can add a few drops to a carrier oil to soothe the skin
  • Fenugreek oil can be used as a calming and aromatic experience
  • As a gargle, place one to two drops of oil to a glass of water
  • For your hair and scalp, add a few drops to your shampoo and conditioner

Fenugreek dye

The seed can be used as a yellow dye.

Gardening with fenugreek

Fenugreek has a variety of uses in the garden, the best would be growing it for culinary uses, as the young leaves are the best, which can be cooked or steamed or used fresh like a spinach and added to a potato salad or curry. The seed can be used in curries and other spicy dishes, teas and to flavour foods and beverages, as well as making sprouts and growing your own microgreens.

It is a well known fodder crop for many animals such as pigs, horses, chickens and buffalo, cattle/dairy cows, rabbits, sheep and goats, and even fish (seed).

It can be used as a nitrogen fixer, but apparently it needs the right bacteria to do this, which is Rhizobium melilot to improve your soil, or you can grow it as a cover crop and plow it back into the ground to add humus to your soil or just chop and drop to increase mulch or grow it for erosion control.


How to Grow

Fenugreek – Trigonella Foenum-graecum is a half hardy annual, that has a ‘trifoil’ -three-angle leaves that are obovate that alternate and it grows to approximately 60cm/ 2′ and has a spread of about 23cm/9″. The flowers are a white to yellow that are a pea flower.

Fenugreek likes a soil that is approximately neutral, but it can be either lower or higher, from 6.5 to 8.2 pH, but doesn’t mind a little lime. It grows in full sunlight, or it needs at least 4 to 5 hours of good sun and can tolerate some shade and the colder you go, you’ll need to have more sunlight.

It likes the soils to be slightly moist but it doesn’t like sitting in water and don’t let it dry out. Poor care does tend to lead to more pests and diseases.

From Seed

Seed is really the only way to grow and cultivate fenugreek, as it is just so quick and easy to grow.

  • Planting is anywhere from spring to early autumn
  • Don’t plant if frost is still around
  • Soak the amount of seeds you wish to plant overnight
  • Place the seeds into drills or holes that are about 6mm/1/4″ deep and 5cm to 2″ apart
  • Cover over and lightly water in
  • Germination is usually from 2 to 7 days
  • It reaches full maturity in about 2 to 4 months
  • Let some grow to seed so that you’ll have some for next planting

If you are growing for the leafy vegetable, then you can plant them much closer together, in a wide container that doesn’t have to be very deep. Keep this pot or container close to your kitchen for easy harvesting.

Maintenance

So long as you keep it watered just enough, and give it plenty of sun and fresh air, and generally things should go well. It doesn’t have a high demand for fertiliser, but you can make sure it is well manured at the time of planting or just add a little liquid fertiliser once every one to two weeks.

Pests and diseases

Fenugreek doesn’t have a lot of issues with pests and diseases but it can get a few, here below are some to watch out for.

  • Pests are aphids, slugs, snails and grasshoppers/crickets
  • Diseases can be powdery mildew, plus charcoal and root rot

Harvesting

If you are looking for a leafy vegetable crop it should be ready in about 20 to 30 days, don’t cut off at the base, just cut them off 3 to 5 cm above the ground. Then allow the stems to regrow and sometimes you can get a leaf crop every two weeks four times in a season.

Drying

Simply place the leaves on clean paper towelling or on clean dry kitchen towels in a well ventilated room until completely dry.

Storage

Typically the leaves are used fresh, but when thoroughly dry, place them into sealable airtight glass jars, label and date, and store in a cool, dry and dark place. If they become mouldy then throw them out.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

Common names:

Greek hay or hayseed, Bird’s foot, Foenugreek, Fenigreek, Hilba, Trigonella, Cow’s horn, and Goat’s horn

Parts used:

Seed therapeutically, but can use sprouts and leaf for more nutrition

Dosage:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 2.0 – 4.0 grams

Main actions:

Hypoglycaemic, hypocholesterolaemic, hypolipidaemic, demulcent, anti-inflammatory, galactagogue, and orexigenic

Indications:

Diabetes, dyspepsia, gastritis, gastrointestinal inflammation, anorexia, debility, convalescence, and difficult lactation, plus, the seed powdered for hypocholesterolaemia or high triglycerides

Constituents:

Steroidal saponin, mucilage, flavonoids, sterols, essential oil, 4-hydroxyisoleucine, trigonelline, bitter principle, arabinose, gentianine, phytosterols, coumarins, lecithin, and diosgenin

Safety concerns:

Saponins, can aggravate or cause gastro-oesophageal reflux, higher doses may cause body odour changes. Do not use if pregnant. Caution with those highly anaemic as it competes with iron. Don’t go over 100g/day.

Adulterants:

None known



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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