FENUGREEK Overview Information
Fenugreek is a plant. The seeds are used to make medicine.
Fenugreek is used for many conditions, but so far, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to determine whether or not it is effective for any of them.
Fenugreek is used for digestive problems such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, constipation, and inflammation of the stomach (gastritis). It is also used for conditions that affect heart health such as “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis) and for high blood levels of certain fats including cholesterol and triglycerides.
Fenugreek is used for kidney ailments, a vitamin deficiency disease called beriberi, mouth ulcers, boils, bronchitis, infection of the tissues beneath the surface of the skin (cellulitis), tuberculosis, chronic coughs, chapped lips, baldness, cancer, and lowering blood sugar in people with diabetes.
Some men use fenugreek for hernia, erectile dysfunction (ED), and other male problems.
Women who are breast-feeding sometimes use fenugreek to promote milk flow.
Fenugreek is sometimes used as a poultice. That means it is wrapped in cloth, warmed and applied directly to the skin to treat local pain and swelling (inflammation), muscle pain, pain and swelling of lymph nodes (lymphadenitis), pain in the toes (gout), wounds, leg ulcers, and eczema.
The taste and odor of fenugreek resembles maple syrup, and it has been used to mask the taste of medicines.
In foods, fenugreek is included as an ingredient in spice blends. It is also used as a flavoring agent in imitation maple syrup, foods, beverages, and tobacco.
In manufacturing, fenugreek extracts are used in soaps and cosmetics.
Fenugreek leaves are eaten in India as a vegetable.
How does it work?
Fenugreek appears to slow absorption of sugars in the stomach and stimulate insulin. Both of these effects lower blood sugar in people with diabetes.
Possibly Effective for:
- Exercise performance. Early research shows that taking 500 mg of fenugreek extract (Indus Biotech, India) for 8 weeks decreases body fat and increases testosterone levels, but does not change muscle strength or endurance in young men. In a similar group of young men, taking a specific fenugreek product (Torabolic, Indus Biotech) reduced body fat and increased leg and bench press performance.
- Heartburn. Early research suggests that taking a specific fenugreek product (FenuLife, Frutarom Belgium) before the two biggest meals of the day reduces symptoms of heartburn.
- High cholesterol. There is conflicting evidence about the effectiveness of using fenugreek for lowering cholesterol. Early research shows that taking fenugreek reduces total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol, but has inconsistent effects on high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Breast milk production. There are some reports that taking powdered fenugreek seed daily increases milk production in breastfeeding women, but evidence confirming this is limited. In an early study, taking a specific tea containing fenugreek and other ingredients (Humana Still-Tee, Humana, Germany) increased milk volume.
- Weight loss. Early research shows that a fenugreek seed extract can reduce daily fat intake in overweight men.
- Stomach upset.
- “Hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis).
- Sexual problems (erectile dysfunction, ED).
- Other conditions.
FENUGREEK Side Effects & Safety
Fenugreek is LIKELY SAFE for people when taken by mouth in amounts normally found in foods. It is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken in amounts used for medicinal purposes (amounts larger than normally found in food) for up to 6 months. Side effects include diarrhea, stomach upset, bloating, gas, and a “maple syrup” odor in urine. Fenugreek can cause nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing, facial swelling, and severe allergic reactions in hypersensitive people. Fenugreek might lower blood sugar.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Fenugreek is LIKELY UNSAFE in pregnancy when used in amounts greater than those in food. It might cause early contractions. Taking fenugreek just before delivery may cause the newborn to have an unusual body odor, which could be confused with “maple syrup urine disease.” It does not appear to cause long-term effects.
Although fenugreek is used to stimulate the production of breast milk, not enough is known about the safety of fenugreek during breast-feeding. It’s best not to use fenugreek is you are breast-feeding.
Children: Fenugreek might be UNSAFE for children. Some reports have linked fenugreek tea to loss of consciousness in children. An unusual body odor resembling maple syrup may occur in children drinking fenugreek tea.
Diabetes: Fenugreek can affect blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use fenugreek.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination
- Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with FENUGREEK
Fenugreek might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking fenugreek along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
- Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with FENUGREEK
Fenugreek might slow blood clotting. Taking fenugreek along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
- Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with FENUGREEK
Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. Fenugreek might also slow blood clotting. Taking fenugreek along with warfarin (Coumadin) might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.
The appropriate dose of fenugreek depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for fenugreek. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.