Fenugreek was first recorded in 1500 B.C. as an ancient Egyptian papyrus, native to southern Europe, Western Asia, and the Mediterranean region. It’s been used as a medicinal and culinary herb throughout the ancient world. Egyptians used fenugreek as a spice in the embalming process, while Romans and Greeks used it for cattle fodder. Today, fenugreek is still grown for use as fodder in northern Africa and some parts of Europe, is cultivated from China to western Europe for its aromatic seeds, and is indispensable in Indian curry.
Historically, fenugreek seed has been used to relieve symptoms of menopause, induce childbirth, and for digestive problems. Some modern uses of fenugreek include a folk remedy for diabetes , stimulation of milk production for breastfeeding mothers, and for treating a loss of appetite. It can be applied topically to the skin to reduce inflammation. Let’s take a closer look at the many fenugreek benefits people can experience.
Fenugreek May Improve Digestive Problems
Fenugreek may be useful for treating upset stomach, inflammatory issues of the stomach, and constipation. Some people use it as part of their ulcerative colitis diet.
Fenugreek May Lower Cholesterol
A study of people in India with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus took 2.5 grams of fenugreek two times a day for three months, and experienced lower cholesterol and triglycerides, without affecting their HDL cholesterol levels .
Have Better Sex
Who doesn’t want better sex?! Fenugreek has been used to treat erectile dysfunction and increase male libido and testosterone levels.
Increase the Supply of Breast Milk
Women using fenugreek report an increase in their breast milk production within 24 hours. Fenugreek stimulates the milk ducts and acts as a galactagogue .
Reduce Inflammation Inside and Out
When fenugreek is wrapped in a cloth and heated, it can be used to reduce inflammation in muscles and lymph nodes. It can also be used to treat eczema, sciatica, and dandruff. When consumed, fenugreek helps with internal inflammation related to mouth ulcers, bronchitis, chronic coughs, kidney issues, infections just beneath the surface of the skin, and cancer.
Fenugreek May Improve Athletic Performance
Using fenugreek extract along with creatine may offer improved body strength, according to a study of healthy men over a period of eight weeks. The participants were tested for muscular strength, body composition, and anaerobic capacity at four and eight weeks of the study. It was determined that the creatine and fenugreek extract supplementation was as effective as the combination of fenugreek and dextrose . If you’re already using creatine, you might consider adding fenugreek to your supplementation schedule.
Add Spice to Foods
Fenugreek is a main ingredient in Indian foods, like curried dishes. You can also find it in beverages, maple syrup, and tobacco. Some use fenugreek leaves in salad.
Potential Side Effects of Fenugreek
Not everyone tolerates fenugreek well. Some people experience an upset stomach, excess gas, bloating, and diarrhea from using fenugreek. Others may cough, wheeze, have nasal congestion, or facial swelling. Some very sensitive people may experience severe allergic reactions that require immediate medical treatment.
- Effect of fenugreek seeds on blood glucose and serum lipids in type I diabetes.
Sharma RD1, Raghuram TC, Rao NS. Send to
Eur J Clin Nutr. 1990 Apr;44(4):301-6.
- Comparative Study on Hypocholesterolemic and Antioxidant Activities of Various Extracts of Fenugreek Seeds.
Belguith-Hadriche O1, Bouaziz M, Jamoussi K, Simmonds MS, El Feki A, Makni-Ayedi F. Food Chem. 2013 Jun 1;138(2-3):1448-53. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2012.11.003. Epub 2012 Nov 12.
Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2006-.Bookshelf ID: NBK501779PMID: 30000838
- Effects of Combined Creatine Plus Fenugreek Extract vs. Creatine Plus Carbohydrate Supplementation on Resistance Training Adaptations
Lem Taylor,1,2✉* Chris Poole,3,* Earnest Pena,1,* Morgan Lewing,1,* Richard Kreider,4,* Cliffa Foster,1,* and Colin Wilborn1,2* J Sports Sci Med. 2011 Jun; 10(2): 254–260. Published online 2011 Jun 1.