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© 2018 Steven Foster

A fenugreek monograph for the home

Latin Name: Trigonella foenum-graecum

Common Name: fenugreek

This fenugreek monograph provides basic information about fenugreek—common names, usefulness and safety, and resources for more information.


Fenugreek Basics

  • Fenugreek is in the spice blend garam masala. It’s used to flavor imitation maple syrup and as a condiment. Its extracts are also in soaps and cosmetics.
  • Historically, fenugreek was used for a variety of health conditions, including digestive problems and to induce childbirth.
  • Today, fenugreek is used as a dietary supplement for diabetes, to stimulate milk production during breastfeeding, and for other health conditions. It’s also used topically as a dressing for wounds or eczema.
  • The seeds are made into capsules, powders, teas, liquid extracts, and a dressing for the skin.

Fenugreek in Health Research

  • We have little conclusive evidence about the effects of fenugreek on health conditions, though we do have a fair amount of information on its possible side effects.

Fenugreek Research Summary

  • A few small studies found that fenugreek may help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes (generally type 2), but the evidence is weak.
  • Some studies suggest—but haven’t proven—that fenugreek may increase milk production in women who are breastfeeding.
  • There isn’t enough scientific evidence to support the use of fenugreek for any health condition.

Fenugreek Preparation & Dosing *

*Always check with your doctor before taking any alternative therapy.
Application Dosage Preparation
Liquid Extract 2-6 mL (1:2 20% POH) Divided daily with meals (Braun & Cohen 2015)
Tincture 1-6 mL (1:6 60% POH) Divided daily with meals
Oral intake 18 grams seed Eaten with meals (Braun & Cohen 2015)
Infused Poultice 50grams in 250 mL water Applied topically
Braun, L. & Cohen, M. (2015) Herbs & Natural Supplements: an evidence-based guide, Volume 2. Churchill Livingstone: Elsevier Australia
EMA (2011) Community herbal monograph on Trigonella foenumgraecum L., semen. Retrieved from

Fenugreek Safety

  • Monitor blood sugar level if diabetic.
  • Do not take fenugreek while pregnant because it may affect uterine contractions.
  • Fenugreek may act like estrogen in the body and be unsafe for women with hormone-sensitive cancers.
  • Side effects of fenugreek may include diarrhea; a maple-like smell to urine, breast milk, and perspiration; and a worsening of asthma.
  • There’s little information on the risks of taking fenugreek while breastfeeding.
  • Fenugreek should not be used in place of conventional medical care or to delay seeking care if you have health problems. This is particularly true if you have diabetes.

Fenugreek References


PubMed Articles About

Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)[Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US), National Center for Biotechnology Information; [1988] – [cited 2018 Apr 5]. Available from: