Fenugreek is taken by mouth for diabetes, menstrual cramps, high cholesterol, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.
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.
How does it work ?
Uses & Effectiveness ?
Possibly Effective for
- Diabetes. Taking fenugreek seed may lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Doses of at least 5 grams daily seems to help. Lower doses don't seem to work.
- Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea). Taking 1800-2700 mg of fenugreek seed powder three times daily for the first 3 days of a menstrual period followed by 900 mg three times daily for the remainder of two menstrual cycles reduces pain in women with painful menstrual periods. The need for painkillers was also reduced.
- Sexual problems that prevent satisfaction during sexual activity. Taking 600 mg of a specific fenugreek seed extract (Libifem, Gencor Pacific Ltd.) each day seems to increase interest in sex in healthy younger women with a low sex drive.
- Increasing response to sexual stimuli in healthy people. Taking 600 mg of a specific fenugreek seed extract (Testofen, Gencor Pacific Ltd) each day seems to improve ability and interest in sex in older men that have started to lose interest and in healthy younger men.
Possibly Ineffective for
- Enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH). Taking fenugreek for 12 weeks doesn't seem to improve symptoms of BPH.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Athletic performance. Some early research suggests that taking a fenugreek supplement might slightly decrease body fat and improve bench press strength in trained athletes. But fenugreek does not seem to improve overall strength.
- Persistent heartburn. Early research shows that taking a specific fenugreek product (FenuLife, Frutarom Belgium) before the two biggest meals of the day may reduce symptoms of heartburn.
- High levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia). Early research shows that taking fenugreek seed powder reduces total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol, and triglycerides. It also seems to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol.
- Breast-feeding. There are some reports that taking fenugreek capsules or drinking fenugreek tea beginning shortly after giving birth can increase milk production in breastfeeding women. Fenugreek seems to help the most when it is started a day or two after giving birth. But not all research agrees. And some research shows that taking fenugreek is less beneficial than taking Indian borage or palm date.
- Conditions in a man that prevent him from getting a woman pregnant within a year of trying to conceive (male infertility). Early research shows that taking fenugreek seed oil drops by mouth three times daily for 4 months improves sperm count in men with a low concentration of sperm. But taking the other parts of the fenugreek seed does not seem to have this effect.
- Symptoms of menopause. It is unclear if taking fenugreek seed improves hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause.
- Muscle strength. Early research shows that taking fenugreek seed extract for 60 days increases grip strength in healthy males.
- Obesity. Early research shows that taking a fenugreek seed extract 392 mg three times daily might reduce daily fat intake. Fenugreek fiber 4 or 8 grams seems to reduce hunger. But it's not clear if this improves weight loss.
- Parkinson disease. Research shows that taking fenugreek seed extract (Indus Biotech Private Limited, Pune) twice daily for 6 months does not improve symptoms in people with Parkinson's disease.
- A hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries with cysts (polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS). Some research shows that taking fenugreek seed extract daily for 8 weeks can reduce ovarian cysts and improve symptoms. But not all research agrees.
- Swelling (inflammation) of the vagina (vaginitis). Early research shows that applying fenugreek vaginal cream into the vagina two times per week for 12 weeks improves symptoms and reduces pain from atrophic vaginitis. But it doesn't seem to work as well as estrogen vaginal cream.
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis).
- Joint pain.
- Muscle pain.
- Patchy hair loss (alopecia areata).
- Stomach ulcers.
- Wound healing.
- Other conditions.
Special Precautions and Warnings
Breast-feeding: Fenugreek is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth to increase breastmilk flow. Some research shows that taking fenugreek 1725 mg three times daily for 21 days does not cause any side effects in infants.
Children: Fenugreek is LIKELY SAFE when used in the amounts found in foods. But there isn't enough reliable information to know if fenugreek is safe when taken in larger amounts. An unusual body and urine odor has been reported in some people who drink fenugreek tea. This unusual odor doesn't seem to be harmful, but it could be confused with a condition called "maple syrup urine disease."
Surgery: Fenugreek might slow blood clotting. It might cause extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop taking fenugreek at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
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.
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.
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.
Be cautious with this combination
- For diabetes: 5-100 grams of powdered fenugreek seed added to one or two meals daily for 4 days to 3 years has been used. A dose of 1 gram daily of an extract of fenugreek seeds has been used.
- For menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea): 1800-2700 mg of fenugreek seed powder three times daily for the first 3 days of menstruation, followed by 900 mg three times daily for the remainder of two menstrual cycles, has been used.
- For sexual problems that prevent satisfaction during sexual activity: 600 mg of fenugreek seed extract (Libifem, Gencor Pacific Ltd.) each day for two menstrual cycles.
- For increasing response to sexual stimuli in healthy people: 600 mg of fenugreek seed extract (Testofen, Gencor Pacific Ltd) each day alone or with magnesium 34 mg, zinc 30 mg, and vitamin B6 10 mg, for 6-12 weeks has been used.
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