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Fenugreek is a plant that's used as a seasoning in the Middle East, Egypt, and India. As a supplement, fenugreek seeds are used as a treatment for diabetes and high cholesterol.

Why do people take fenugreek?

People have been using fenugreek seeds for diabetes for centuries. There's good evidence that it works. Studies show it can lower blood sugar after eating. Fenugreek may also raise "good" HDL cholesterol and lower unhealthy triglycerides.

Some small studies have found that fenugreek can help with acid reflux. Because it's high in fiber, fenugreek may help treat or prevent constipation.

People use fenugreek for other conditions. They range from improving appetite to helping nursing women produce more breast milk. As a skin treatment, people use it for swelling, rashes, and wounds. There's no good evidence that these uses of fenugreek help.

Because fenugreek is an unproven treatment, there's no established dose. Some people take 10 to 15 grams (or more) of the seeds daily for diabetes. Fenugreek is available in teas marketed to women who are breastfeeding, although it's not clear that they have any benefit, One study did find it increased milk production in breastfeeding women. Ask your doctor for advice.

Can you get fenugreek naturally from foods?

Many people eat fenugreek seeds and greens. The seed is also a common seasoning.

What are the risks?

Tell your doctor about any supplements you’re taking, even if they’re natural. That way, your doctor can check on any potential side effects or interactions with medications.

  • Side effects. Fenugreek as a food is safe. High doses can cause upset stomach and gas.
  • Risks. Women who are pregnant or nursing, children, and people with liver or kidney disease should not use fenugreek supplements unless a doctor says it's safe.
  • Interactions. If you take any medicines regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using fenugreek supplements. They could interact with insulin or other diabetes drugs.

Supplements are not regulated by the FDA.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Kiefer, MD on April 27, 2015

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