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Introduction

Fenugreek is an herb with small white flowers. Its seeds have been used to lower blood glucose. It can be taken as a pill, powder, or extract. It can also be made into a tea or used in cooking and baking.

Dosages

500 to 1000 milligrams extract or 5 to 10 grams seed once daily

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

  • Breast milk production —may boost milk production and newborn birth weight B1-B3
  • Diabetes —likely to help control blood glucose and lower fat levels in the blood C1-C4

May Be Effective

  • Anxiety —may ease job-related stress and improve quality of life A1
  • Menopause —may ease symptoms E1, E2
  • Sexual function —may improve sex function in both men and women H1, H2

Not Enough Data to Assess

  • Impaired glucose tolerance D1
  • Parkinson Disease F1
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome G1

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe for most adults to use fenugreek for a short time. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period. Fenugreek may be unsafe for use by children and during pregnancy.

Interactions

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse, such as:

  • People taking anticoagulants should talk to their doctor before taking fenugreek. It may increase risk of bleeding.
  • People with diabetes should talk to their doctors before taking fenugreek. It may cause blood glucose to become too low when it is taken with medicine to control diabetes.
 

References

A. Anxiety

A1. Pandaran Sudheeran S, Jacob D, et al. Safety, tolerance, and enhanced efficacy of a bioavailable formulation of curcumin with fenugreek dietary fiber on occupational stress: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2016 Jun;36(3):236-243.

B. Breast Milk Production

B1. Turkyılmaz C, Onal E, et al. The effect of galactagogue herbal tea on breast milk production and short-term catch-up of birth weight in the first week of life. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Feb;17(2):139-142.

B2. Turkilmaz C, Onal E, et al. The effect of galactagogue herbal tea on breast milk production and short-term catch-up of birth weight in the first week of life. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Feb;17(2):139-142.

B3. Mortel M, Mehta SD. Systematic review of the efficacy of herbal galactogogues. J Hum Lact. 2013 May;29(2):154-162.

C. Diabetes

C1. Suksomboon N, Poolsup N, et al. Meta-analysis of the effect of herbal supplement on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Oct 11;137(3):1328-1333.

C2. Neelak N, Narayanan M, et al. Effect of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) intake on glycemia: a meta-analysis of clinical trials. Nutr J. 2014;13:7.

C3. Rafraf M, Malekiyan M, et al. Effect of fenugreek seeds on serum metabolic factors and adiponectin levels in type 2 diabetic patients. Int J Vitamin Nutr Res. 2014;84(3-4):196-205.

C4. Gong J, Fang K, et al. Effect of fenugreek on hyperglycaemia and hyperlipidemia in diabetes and prediabetes: A meta-analysis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2016;24(194):260-268.

D. Impaired Glucose Tolerance

D1. Demmers A, Korthout H, et al. Effects of medicinal food plants on impaired glucose tolerance: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2017 Sep;131:91-106.

E. Menopause

E1. Shamshad Begum S, Jayalakshmi HK, et al. A novel extract of fenugreek husk (Fenusmart™) alleviates postmenopausal symptoms and helps to establish the hormonal balance: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Phytother Res. 2016 Nov;30(11):1775-1784.

E2. Steels E, Steele ML, et al. Efficacy of a proprietary trigonella foenum-graecum l. de-husked seed extract in reducing menopausal symptoms in otherwise healthy women: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Phytother Res. 2017 Sep;31(9):1316-1322.

F. Parkinson Disease

F1. Nathan J, Panjwani S, et al. Efficacy and safety of standardized extract of Trigonella foenum-graecum L seeds as an adjuvant to L-Dopa in the management of patients with Parkinson's disease. Phytother Res. 2014 Feb;28(2):172-178.

G. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

G1. Swaroop A, Jaipuriar AS, et al. Efficacy of a novel fenugreek seed extract (trigonella foenum-graecum, furocyst) in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Int J Med Sci. 2015 Oct 3;12(10):825-831.

H. Sexual Function

H1. Rao A, Steels E, et al. 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. Phytother Res. 2015;29(8):1123-1130.

H2. Rao A, Steels E, et al. Testofen, a specialized Trigonella foenum-graecum seed extract reduces age-related symptoms of androgen decrease, increases testosterone levels and improves sexual function in healthy aging males in a double-blind randomised clinical study. Aging Male. 2016 Jun;19(2):134-142.

Last reviewed July 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC  Last Updated: 5/6/2020