What is Fenugreek?
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) hails from India and Southern Europe and is found in France, the Mediterranean, India, and North Africa .
All parts of the plants are edible. The leaves can be made into an herb. Seeds are used as a spice to flavor food and are found in various Indian spice blends such as garam masala and curry.
The seed flour contains saponins, coumarine, sapogenins, and trigonelline. These compounds have antioxidant properties that can improve health.
How is Fenugreek Used?
Fenugreek seeds are eaten whole, brewed into a tea, baked into bread, made into an oil or used as a topical treatment. Fenugreek seeds extracted and made into a capsule and liquid supplements  .
Health Claims of Fenugreek
It is still being used to stimulate milk production in breastfeeding women, but today is mainly known for its aphrodisiac and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Breast Milk Production
Enhanced Libido and Testosterone
Reduce Menstrual Pain
Increase in muscle mass
A proprietary blend of Fenugreek and minerals improved libido in 60 healthy men, however, it failed to increase testosterone levels. Overall the research on this topic is limited. Larger long term clinical trials need to be done   .
No change in blood sugar was seen among healthy individuals when consuming 2,500 mg twice a day for 3 months. Patients with type 2 diabetes (T2DM) had a significant reduction in blood sugar, but those with severe cases of T2DM saw only slight changes in blood sugar .
Patients with coronary artery disease improved when given a dose of 2,500 mg twice a day for three months .
Regulation of blood sugar was mainly the reason for lowered cholesterol .
Evidence for Fenugreek’s help with eczema comes from traditional medicine practices with no clinical studies to date. Overall, the evidence is anecdotal and insufficient .
Short-term effects find a decrease in appetite among obese individuals when consuming 8 grams of fenugreek fiber .
No change in appetite in healthy overweight men when taking 392 mg seed extract taken three times a day for two to six weeks .
Total fat and food intake reduced 17 percent in healthy males with 1176 mg of Fenugreek seed extract .
It is possibly effective to relieve menstrual pain and reduces the need for painkillers. Participants found a decrease in fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting, low energy, and fainting when given 900 mg of fenugreek seed powder three times a day for the first three days of their period  .
Altered body composition with reductions in body fat, when taken 500 mg of fenugreek, was used in conjunction with a resistance training program over an 8 week period.
How to Take Fenugreek?
Risks of Taking Fenugreek
Taken in the form of food in fenugreek is generally safe for healthy individuals. Some have experienced dizziness, headache, and digestive issues such as upset stomach, abdominal bloating, and diarrhea .
Certain interactions can occur for those on anticoagulants, antiplatelet, and antidiabetic medications. Risks include hypoglycemia, bruising, and bleeding . Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of taking fenugreek with any of your medications
It may react as estrogen in the body and is unsafe for women with hormone-sensitive cancers .
Consumption can result in nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing, facial swelling, anaphylaxis, and asthma when ingested, inhaled, or externally applied.
It has a distinct maple syrup smell due to the compound sotolon. After consuming fenugreek tea, supplements, and a large number of seeds the body will emit this sweet odor in breastmilk, perspiration, and urine   .
It can be possibly safe during breastfeeding in the short-term. Taking 1725 mg of fenugreek three times daily for 21 days has no effect on infants. Long-term effects of fenugreek while breastfeeding is unknown  .
It can cause loss of consciousness and should not be consumed by children .
There is still a lot we don’t know about fenugreek. More extensive research needs to be done to find the true effects of this herb.
In the meantime, extreme caution should be taken if you have a health condition. Children and those who are pregnant should avoid fenugreek due to its harmful effects.
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