Latin Name – Trigonella foenum-graecum
Fenugreek seed is commonly used in cooking, and is also used to make an herbal remedy. The dried seeds are ground and taken by mouth or used to form a paste that is applied to the skin.
The earliest recorded use of fenugreek is described on an ancient Egyptian papyrus dated to 1500 B.C. Historically, fenugreek was used for a variety of symptoms, including menopausal symptoms and digestive problems. It was also used for inducing childbirth.
Fenugreek is used as an herbal remedy in the hope of improving symptoms of diabetes and loss of appetite, and to stimulate milk production in breastfeeding women. It is also applied to the skin to treat inflammation.
Research in a few small studies have found that fenugreek may help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
There is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of fenugreek for any other health condition.
Side Effects and Cautions Summary
- Given its historical use for inducing childbirth, women should not use fenugreek during pregnancy
- Possible side effects of fenugreek when taken by mouth include gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Fenugreek can cause irritation when applied to the skin.
- Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health to help ensure coordinated and safe care. Complementary or alternative therapy should not be used in place of conventional medical care or to delay seeking that care.
- Fenugreek. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed on December 28, 2006.
- Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L. Leguminosae). Natural Standard Database Web site. Accessed on December 28, 2006.
- Fenugreek seed. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckman J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000:130–133.
For More Information
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Clearinghouse
The NCCAM Clearinghouse provides information on CAM and NCCAM, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.
NIH Office of Dietary Supplements
Web site: ods.od.nih.gov
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Fenugreek fact sheet Created March 2007, Updated April 2008