Scientific Name: Trigonella foenum-graecum
Common Name: Greek clover, Chandrika, Hu Lu Ba, Alholva, Bird’s Foot
History of Use
Charred fenugreek seeds have been recovered and carbon dated to 4,000 BC in Tell Halal, Iraq. Desiccated seeds were also recovered from the tomb of Tutankhamen.
Different parts of the fenugreek plant is used as an herb, a spice and vegetable. Fenugreek is widely incorporated in Egyptian, Persian and Turkish Cuisine. It was one of the spices the Egyptians used for embalming, and the Greeks and Romans used it for cattle fodder. It was grown extensively in the imperial gardens of Charlemagne.
Traditionally, fenugreek has been used to promote weight gain in anorexics, to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and soothe gastric disorders. The oil from the seeds is used as a skin softener, and the powdered seeds, when added to yoghurt are used as a hair conditioner in India (Abbas, 2010).
Earlier reports show that fenugreek seeds provide a mastogenic effect resulting in enhanced breast size. In a study by Sreeja S, Anju VS, Sreeja S., they were able to provide the evidence for estrogenic activities of fenugreek seeds as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy for symptoms of menopause and osteoporosis, among others.
In a recent study on oxidative stress and inflammation in testicular tissue in rats, fenugreek seed extract gave promising results. It has shown to alleviate all inflammatory parameters in the testes and suspends testicular oxidative stress, apoptosis and inflammations (Hamza, Elwy, & Badawi, 2015).
The traditional use of fenugreek to lower blood sugar has its merits. In a study by Evans JL and Bahng M in 2014, fenugreek, along with cinnamon and caiapo, are considered botanical treatments with the strongest evidence of clinical safety and efficacy for Type 2 Diabetes.
Fenugreek has also shown improved sexual desire and arousal in women (Rao, Steels, Beccaria, Inder, & Vitetta, 2015). Overall positive effect on physiological aspects of libido were also observed in men. The herb has also shown to aid women as a galactagogue to increase milk production (Turkyılmaz, et al., 2011).
Recommended dosage for fenugreek varies depending on the issue you wish to address:
- New mothers that want to increase breast milk production should aim for 500-1000mg of fenugreek.
- Men who want to increase testosterone or libido could consider taking between 500-600mg of a standardized fenugreek formulation.
- An oral dose of 2-5g of fenugreek seeds can help blood glucose levels for diabetics.
Who Should Not Take Fenugreek
People with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) should avoid Fenugreek due to its effect on blood sugar levels. For people taking Fenugreek, be mindful of side effects which 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. Pregnant women should avoid Fenugreek as it may lead to early contractions.
If you are diabetic and are already taking medications for it, monitor your blood sugar and discuss it with your doctor. You might need to adjust your dosage. Diabetes medications which may interact include, but is not limited to, glimepiride, glyburide, insulin, pioglitazone, rosiglitazone, chlorpropamide, glipizide and tolbutamide. Fenugreek also interacts with medications that slow blood clotting. Have your blood checked regularly and discuss with your doctor if you need to adjust your dosage. Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel, diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen, dalteparin, enoxaparin, heparin and warfarin.
How to Get your Fenugreek On
Fenugreek seeds are very versatile. They can be eaten as seeds, brewed into a tea, made into flour and baked into bread, or pressed into oil. A lot of Indian and Mediterranean recipes call for this lovely plant. Fenugreek is often used to imitate the flavor of vanilla and maple so you can consider tossing fenugreek next time you need the flavor.
You can also add fenugreek in your diet with our Rapid Release Fenugreek Capsules . Each capsule delivers 610mg natural fenugreek seeds!
Abbas. (2010, July 10). FENUGREEK (METHI) HISTORY, TEA and RECIPE. Retrieved June 8, 2015, from Herbs – Treat and Taste: http://herbs-treatandtaste.blogspot.com/2010/07/fenugreek-methi-history-tea-and-recipe.html
Evans, J., & Bahng, M. (2014, March 4). NON-PHARMACEUTICAL INTERVENTION OPTIONS FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES: Diets and Dietary Supplements (Botanicals, Antioxidants, and Minerals). (L. De Groot, P. Beck-Peccoz, & G. Chrousos, Eds.) South Dartmouth (MA). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279062/
Hamza, A. A., Elwy, H. M., & Badawi, A. M. (2015, May 21). Fenugreek seed extract attenuates cisplatin-induced testicular damage in Wistar rats. Andrologia. doi:10.1111/and.12435
Rao, A., Steels, E., Beccaria, G., Inder, W. J., & Vitetta, L. (2015, April 24). Influence of a Specialized Trigonella foenum-graecum Seed Extract (Libifem), on Testosterone, Estradiol and Sexual Function in Healthy Menstruating Women, a Randomised Placebo Controlled Study. Phytotherapy Research. doi:10.1002/ptr.5355
Sreeja, S., Anju, V., & Sreeja, S. (2010, June). In vitro estrogenic activities of fenugreek Trigonella foenum graecum seeds. Indian Journal of Medical Research, 131(6), pp. 814-819. Retrieved from http://www.ijmr.org.in/article.asp?issn=0971-5916;year=2010;volume=131;issue=6;spage=814;epage=819;aulast=Sreeja;type=2
Turkyılmaz, C., Onal, E., Hirfanoglu, I. M., Turan, O., Koç, E., Ergenekon, E., & Atalay, Y. (2011, February 23). The effect of galactagogue herbal tea on breast milk production and short-term catch-up of birth weight in the first week of life. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 17(2), 139-142. doi:10.1089/acm.2010.0090
WebMD. (n.d.). Fenugreek. Retrieved June 7, 2015, from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-733-FENUGREEK.aspx?activeIngredientId=733&activeIngredientName=FENUGREEK&source=2
Wikipedia contributors. (2015, May 28). Fenugreek, 664392311. (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.) Retrieved June 7, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Fenugreek&oldid=664392311