South Central WI Archive
  • South Central Wisconsin
  • April 2015
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Fenugreek — Trigonella foenum-graecum

The first recorded use of fenugreek is described on an ancient Egyptian papyrus dated to 1500 B.C. Fenugreek seed is commonly used in cooking. Historically, fenugreek was used for a variety of health conditions, including menopausal symptoms and digestive problems. It was also used for inducing childbirth.

Today, fenugreek is used as a folk or traditional remedy for diabetes and loss of appetite, and to stimulate milk production in breastfeeding women. It is also applied to the skin for inflammation.

The dried seeds are ground and taken by mouth or used to form a paste that is applied to the skin.

What the science says

A few small studies have found that fenugreek may help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), though, there is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of fenugreek for any other health condition.

Side effects and cautions

Possible side effects of fenugreek when taken by mouth include gas, bloating and diarrhea. Fenugreek can cause irritation when applied to the skin.

Important note: Given its historical use for inducing childbirth, women should use caution when taking fenugreek during pregnancy.

Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care. For tips about talking with your health care providers about complementary and integrative health approaches, see NCCIH’s Time to Talk campaign.


Source: “Fenugreek.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/fenugreek.

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