Is fenugreek good for you
Sankhwar SN, Kumar P, Bagchi M, Rungta M, Bagchi D. Safety and Efficacy of Furosap®, a Patented Trigonella foenum-graecum Seed Extract, in Boosting Testosterone Level, Reproductive Health and Mood Alleviation in Male Volunteers. J Am Coll Nutr 2021. View abstract.
FENUGREEK – Uses, Side Effects, and More
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is an herb similar to clover. The seeds taste similar to maple syrup and are used in foods and medicine.
Fenugreek is native to the Mediterranean, Europe, and Asia. Fenugreek seems to slow sugar absorption in the stomach and stimulate insulin. Both of these effects lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. Fenugreek might also improve levels of testosterone and estrogen, helping to improve interest in sex.
People commonly use fenugreek for diabetes, menstrual cramps, sexual problems, enlarged prostate, high cholesterol, obesity, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.
Uses and Effectiveness ?
Possibly Effective for
- Diabetes. Taking fenugreek seed by mouth seems to lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
- Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea). Taking fenugreek seed powder by mouth might reduce painful menstrual periods.
- Increasing response to sexual stimuli in healthy people. Taking a specific fenugreek seed extract (Testofen, Gencor Pacific Ltd) by mouth seems to improve ability and interest in sex in males.
- Sexual problems that prevent satisfaction during sexual activity. Taking a specific fenugreek seed extract (Libifem, Gencor Pacific Ltd.) by mouth seems to increase interest in sex in healthy younger females with a low sex drive.
Possibly Ineffective for
- Enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH). Taking fenugreek extract by mouth doesn’t seem to improve BPH symptoms.
When taken by mouth: Fenugreek is commonly consumed in foods. It is possibly safe when the powdered seed is taken for up to 3 years. Side effects may include diarrhea, stomach upset, bloating, and gas. It may also cause allergic reactions in some people.
Special Precautions and Warnings
When taken by mouth: Fenugreek is commonly consumed in foods. It is possibly safe when the powdered seed is taken for up to 3 years. Side effects may include diarrhea, stomach upset, bloating, and gas. It may also cause allergic reactions in some people. Pregnancy: Fenugreek is commonly consumed in foods. It is likely unsafe when used in greater amounts. It might cause malformations in the baby, as well as early contractions. Taking fenugreek just before delivery may cause the newborn to have an unusual body odor. This unusual body odor doesn’t seem to be harmful, but it could be confused with a condition called “maple syrup urine disease.”
Breast-feeding: Fenugreek is possibly safe when taken by mouth to increase breastmilk flow. Taking fenugreek 1725 mg three times daily for 21 days doesn’t seem to cause any side effects in infants.
Children: Fenugreek is commonly consumed 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 after drinking fenugreek tea. This doesn’t seem to be harmful, but it could be confused with a condition called “maple syrup urine disease.”
Allergies: People who are allergic to other plants in the Fabaceae family, including soybeans, peanuts, green peas, and other legumes, might also be allergic to fenugreek.
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.
Be cautious with this combination
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with FENUGREEK
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with FENUGREEK
Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with FENUGREEK
Theophylline interacts with FENUGREEK
Clopidogrel (Plavix) interacts with FENUGREEK
Metoprolol (Toprol) interacts with FENUGREEK
Fenugreek seed powder has most often been used by adults in doses of 5-10 grams by mouth daily for up to 3 years. Fenugreek seed extract has most often been used in doses of 0.6-1.2 grams by mouth daily. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what dose might be best for a specific condition.
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Is fenugreek good for you?
Fenugreek is an herb in the same family as soy. People use fenugreek seeds, also called methi seeds, as a spice, flavoring agent, and supplement. However, more research is necessary to understand its health benefits.
Fenugreek may be able to help reduce the risk of:
- high cholesterol
- high blood pressure
- heart conditions
- bacterial, fungal, and viral infections
However, using or consuming compounds in fenugreek may cause uterine contractions during pregnancy and worsen hormone-sensitive types of cancer.
Fenugreek may also cause mild gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea and bloating.
Fenugreek is one of the oldest medicinally used plants, with roots in both traditional Indian and Chinese systems of medicine.
Fenugreek extracts are ingredients in many common products, including:
- garam masala, a spice blend
- imitation maple syrup products
Fenugreek contains many essential nutrients, and these help make it a strong antioxidant.
Some of these nutrients include:
- vitamin A
- B vitamins
- vitamin D
- soluble and insoluble fiber
Share on Pinterest Consuming fenugreek may help with digestive problems, low testosterone, and arthritis.
Currently, there is not enough conclusive evidence to fully support the use of fenugreek for any medical purpose.
However, people have been using fenugreek in varying forms for hundreds or potentially thousands of years to treat a very wide range of conditions, such as:
- digestive problems, including constipation, loss of appetite, and gastritis
- breast milk production and flow
- low testosterone or libido
- painful menstruation
- high blood pressure
- breathing problems
- low exercise performance
- open wounds
- muscle pain
- migraines and headaches
- childbirth pains
Of all the reported health benefits of fenugreek, only a few have been substantially backed by scientific evidence.
Among other benefits, some research suggests that fenugreek may:
Reduce the risk of diabetes
Quite a few studies in animals have shown that at least four compounds in fenugreek have antidiabetic properties. They primarily:
- reduce intestinal glucose absorption
- delay gastric emptying
- improve insulin sensitivity and action
- reduce concentrations of lipid-binding protein
In a 2017 study , mice fed a high-fat diet with 2 percent whole fenugreek seed supplementation for 16 weeks had better glucose tolerance than those who did not receive the supplementation.
However, the fenugreek did not improve glucose tolerance in the mice who ate a low-fat diet. Also, the authors concluded that 4 days of voluntary exercise on a spinning wheel was ultimately more effective at improving glucose tolerance in all the mice than fenugreek.
Overall, the researchers found fewer benefits from fenugreek than they expected.
Improve milk production and flow
Fenugreek may help stimulate breast milk production and ease the flow. Practitioners of traditional Asian medicine have long recommended fenugreek for this purpose.
In a 2014 study, 25 women who had recently given birth drank three cups of fenugreek tea daily for 2 weeks and saw an increase in milk volume in the first weeks.
Improve weight loss
Fenugreek may suppress the appetite and increase feelings of fullness, which could help reduce overeating and lead to weight loss.
In a 2015 study , nine overweight female Korean participants drank a fennel, fenugreek, or placebo tea before lunch. Those who drank fenugreek tea reported feeling less hungry and more full. However, the tea did not cause the participants to consume less.
Because of the fiber content, fenugreek fiber extract powders may also lead to a feeling of fullness.
Raise testosterone and boost sperm count
Fenugreek may help increase low testosterone and sperm levels.
In a 2017 study , 50 male volunteers took an extract of fenugreek seeds for 12 weeks. About 85 percent of the participants had an increased sperm count.
The results also indicate that the extract consistently improved mental alertness, mood, and libido.
The substantial levels of antioxidants in fenugreek give it great potential as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Results of a 2012 study in mice suggest that the high antioxidant flavonoid content in fenugreek seeds can reduce inflammation.
Reduce the risk of heart and blood pressure conditions
Fenugreek may help regulate cholesterol levels and improve blood pressure, which can reduce the risk of developing heart conditions and improve heart health.
This may be because fenugreek seeds contain roughly 48 percent dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is very hard to digest, and it forms a viscous gel in the intestines that makes it harder to digest sugars and fats.
Fenugreek has long been used for pain relief in traditional systems of medicine.
Researchers think that compounds called alkaloids in the herb help block sensory receptors that allow the brain to perceive pain.
In a 2014 study , 51 women with painful periods took capsules of fenugreek seed powder three times a day for the first 3 days of their periods for 2 consecutive months. They experienced shorter durations of pain and fewer symptoms between the months.
Share on Pinterest Side effects of fenugreek can include an upset stomach and dizziness.
Some common unwanted effects of fenugreek include:
- an upset stomach
- the urine, sweat, or breast milk taking on a maple-like odor
Some people have had allergic reactions to fenugreek, although this is rare.
Pregnant women should avoid using fenugreek because it contains compounds that can stimulate contractions and may cause birth abnormalities.
Fenugreek can also act similarly to estrogen in the body, so it may negatively impact people with hormone-sensitive cancers.
In general, a person with any health issue should avoid fenugreek or use it cautiously. Talk to a doctor before trying it.
Fenugreek does not negatively interact with many drugs, but some of the herb’s compounds may perform similar functions as medications, so taking both may not be safe.
Understanding the risks of overdosing on fenugreek will require more research. As with any medicinal food or supplement, it is best to add fenugreek to the diet at a slow, steady rate.
People have used fenugreek for hundreds of years to treat conditions ranging from unstable blood sugar to low testosterone.
While it may have health benefits, fenugreek cannot cure any condition. A doctor should assess all symptoms as soon as possible to prevent complications.
People, particularly those with chronic conditions and lactating women, should speak with a doctor before starting fenugreek supplements or significantly increasing their dietary intake.
Last medically reviewed on January 31, 2019