Abish, alholva, bird's foot, bockhornsklover, bockshornklee, bockshornsamen, cemen, chilbe, diosgenin, fenegriek, fenogreco, fenogrego, fenigreko, fenugree, fenugreek seed, fenu-thyme, foenugraeci semen, gorogszena, graine de fenugrec, gray hay, Greek hay seed, griechische Heusamen, fieno greco, halba, hilbeh, hulba, hu lu ba, kasoori methi, kozieradka pospolita, kreeka lambalaats, mente, mentikura, mentula, methi, methika, methini, methri, methro, mithiguti, pazhitnik grecheskiy, penantazi, sag methi, sambala, sarviapila, shabaliidag, shambelile, trigonella, trigonelline, trogonella semen, uluhaal, uwatu, vendayam, venthiam.
Fenugreek has a long history of medical uses in Indian and Chinese medicine, and has been used for numerous indications, including labor induction, aiding digestion, and as a general tonic to improve metabolism and health.
Preliminary study has suggested possible hypoglycemic (blood sugar lowering) and anti-hyperlipidemic properties of fenugreek seed powder when taken by mouth. However, at this time, the evidence is not sufficient to recommend either for or against fenugreek for diabetes or hyperlipidemia. Nonetheless, caution is warranted in patients taking blood sugar-lowering agents, in whom blood glucose levels should be monitored. Hypokalemia (lowered potassium levels in the blood) has also been reported, and potassium levels should be followed in patients taking concomitant hypokalemic agents, or with underlying cardiac disease.
Diabetes mellitus type 1:
Review of the literature suggests a possible efficacy of fenugreek in type 1 diabetics. Although promising, these data cannot be considered definitive. At this time there is insufficient evidence to recommend either for or against the use of fenugreek for type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes mellitus type 2:
Fenugreek has been found to lower serum glucose levels both acutely and chronically. Although promising, these data cannot be considered definitive, and at this time there is insufficient evidence to recommend either for or against fenugreek for type 2 diabetes. Additional study is warranted in this area.
Galactagogue (breast milk stimulant):
Traditionally in India, fenugreek has been used to increase milk flow. Additional study is needed to confirm this finding.
There is insufficient evidence to support the use of fenugreek as a hyperlipidemic agent.
Products rich in fenugreek fiber may interfere with the absorption of oral medications due to its mucilaginous fiber content and high viscosity in the gut. Medications should be taken separately from such products. However, it should be noted that fenugreek is rarely used for its fiber content.
There is no proven effective dose of fenugreek in adults. For type 1 diabetes, 100 grams of debitterized powdered fenugreek seeds divided in two equal doses has been used. For type 2 diabetes, 2.5 grams of fenugreek seed powder in capsule form, twice daily for three months, or 25 grams seed powder, divided in two equal doses has been used. For hyperlipidemia, 2.5 grams of fenugreek seed powder in capsule form, twice daily for three months, or 100 grams debitterized powdered seeds divided in two equal doses has been used.
There is no proven effective dose of fenugreek in children.
Caution is warranted in patients with known fenugreek allergy, or with allergy to chickpeas due to possible cross-reactivity. Inhaling fenugreek seed powder may cause allergic or asthmatic reactions, including bronchospasm
Fenugreek has traditionally been considered safe and well tolerated. There are rare reports of dizziness, diarrhea, gas, facial swelling, numbness, difficulty breathing (after inhalation from occupational exposure), fainting, increased risk of bleeding, reduction of blood sugars, reduction of serum potassium levels, and alteration of thyroid hormone levels.
Blood sugars should be followed in patients with diabetes. Patients should be monitored if taking anticoagulants or drugs that affect potassium levels.
Literature review reveals no reliable human data or systematic study of fenugreek during pregnancy or lactation. Caution is warranted during pregnancy due to potential hypoglycemic effects. In addition, both water and alcoholic extracts of fenugreek exert a stimulating effect on isolated guinea pig uterus, especially during late pregnancy. As a result, fenugreek may possess abortifacient effects, and is usually not recommended for use in doses higher than found in foods during pregnancy.
Products rich in fenugreek fiber may interfere with the absorption of oral medications due to its mucilaginous fiber content and high viscosity in the gut. Medications should be taken separately from such products.
Fenugreek is thought to possess both acute and chronic hypoglycemic properties. Concomitant use with other hypoglycemic agents may lower serum glucose more than expected, and levels should be monitored closely
Fenugreek should be used cautiously with medications that decrease blood potassium levels, diuretics, laxatives, mineralocorticoids, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), birth control pills, thyroid medications, corticosteroids, anticoagulants, cardiac glycosides, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Use cautiously when taking with drugs used for cancer or high cholesterol, or when taking with alcohol.
Fenugreek may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
Fenugreek should also be used cautiously with agents that decrease blood potassium levels, diuretic agents, laxatives, phytoestrogens, and herbs with monoamine oxidase inhibitor properties. Use cautiously when taking with drugs used for cancer, pain, heart conditions, thyroid conditions or high cholesterol. Fenugreek may interact with antioxidants.
This information is based on a professional level monograph edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Ethan Basch, MD, MPhil (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center); J. Kathryn Bryan, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Dilys Burke, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Lisa Cheung, PharmD (University of Rhode Island); Edzard Ernst, MD (University of Exeter); Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Ivo Foppa, MD, ScD (University of South Carolina); Paul Hammerness, MD (Harvard Medical School); Sadaf Hashmi, MD, MPH (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Grace Kuo, PharmD (Baylor College of Medicine); Michelle Miranda, PharmD (University of Rhode Island); Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD (Harvard Medical School); Michael Smith, M.R.PharmS., ND (Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine); David Sollars, M.Ac, HMC (New England School of Acupuncture); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Nazhiyath Vijayan, MD (University of California, Davis); Minney Varghese, BS (Northeastern University); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).
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Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.