Fenugreek Herb – Uses And Side Effects

Fenugreek Leaves

Fenugreek is one of the world’s oldest medicinal herbs. It has a variety of uses, including increasing breastmilk production. Fenugreek, or Trigonella foenum-graecum, is native to countries along the Mediterranean’s eastern shore. The plant is cultivated in India, Egypt, Morocco and, occasionally, England. Herbalists use only the seeds, which grow in sicklelike pods. Each pod contains about 10 to 20 brownish seeds.

An erect 2 to 3 foot tall annual herb with light green leaves and small white flowers. The seed pods contain 10 to 20 small, flat, yellow-brown, pungent, aromatic seeds to a pod. The seeds have a strong aroma and somewhat bitter  taste, variously described as similar to celery, maple syrup, or burnt  sugar.

Fenugreek smells and tastes like maple syrup. In fact, drinking fenugreek tea may cause the urine to smell like maple syrup. People used to add the herb to liquid medicines to mask the taste.

Common doses of Fenugreek

Fenugreek is available as unprocessed seeds, extracts in liquid and spray, seeds in a dried powder or capsules, and a poultice. Some experts recommend the following doses:

  • As seeds, I to 6 grams taken orally three times daily.
  • As a powdered drug, dissolve 50 grams in 1/4 liter of water and apply topically.

Uses of Fenugreek

The major use of fenugreek is in curry powders, figuring in many mixtures, especially vindaloo and the hot curries of Sri Lanka. It is an ingredient of Panch phoron, the Indian five-spice mixture. In homemade powders, the amount used can be controlled, but in cheap bought powders it often overpowers. Some of the medicinal uses of fenugreek are:-

Side effects of Fenugreek

Call your health care practitioner if you experience any of these possible side effects of fenugreek:

  • bleeding
  • bruising
  • headache
  • low blood sugar symptoms, such as dizziness, hunger, trembling, profuse sweating, and a fast pulse.


Combining herbs with certain drugs may alter their action or produce unwanted side effects. Tell your health care
practitioner about any prescription or nonprescription drugs you’re taking, especially drugs that lower blood sugar.

Don’t use fenugreek while taking:

  • blood thinners such as Coumadin .
  • Other oral drugs.

Important points to remember

  • Don’t use fenugreek if you’re pregnant because it may stimulate uterine contractions.
  • Tell your health care practitioner if you experience unusual bleeding or bruising or if other drugs you’re taking seem less effective while using fenugreek.
  • If you’re diabetic, check your blood sugar carefully until you know how fenugreek affects it.
  • Learn about low blood sugar symptoms and management of it.
  • If you’re using fenugreek to lower your blood sugar or cholesterol level, remember that effective and tested drugs are available.
  • Be aware that the Food and Drug Administration says fenugreek is “generally recommended as safe” at concentrations below 0.05%.

What the research shows

Although fenugreek may hold promise in treating diabetes and high cholesterol, researchers haven’t tested the herb on people. What’s more, existing drugs have proven benefits in these conditions.

Other names for Fenugreek : –

Other names for fenugreek include bird’s-foot, greek hayseed, and trigonella.

Preparation and Storage

Dried seeds should be lightly roasted before using (don’t overdo it though, or they will become bitter). After roasting, they are easily ground. A small amount will complement many other spices, but too much can be overpowering. If the seeds are required as part of a curry paste they can be soaked overnight to swell and soften, and be easily mixed with the other ingredients.

Products containing fenugreek are sold under such names as fenugreek seed and fenu-thyme.

Useful References

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