Fenugreek is a plant grown in the Mediterranean and South Asian regions whose seeds and occasionally leaves are used in South Asian and Mediterranean cuisine. The use of fenugreek as an ingredient dates back as far as ancient Rome, where a recipe was discovered that used fenugreek to flavor wine. Fenugreek has also been used and continues to be used as a natural remedy to a huge list of ailments or for the potential fenugreek benefits.
Uses of Fenugreek
The number of applications for fenugreek is practically endless, but the effectiveness will vary from person to person. In traditional medicine, fenugreek was most often used as a way to settle an upset stomach and aid in digestion and was also thought to be able to induce labor. It was also used topically as a way to relieve the pain and swelling of an injury.
Fenugreek has also been used to reduce blood sugar in diabetics, though the effectiveness of fenugreek for this use is still being researched.
In Indian medicine, fenugreek has traditionally been used as a way to increase libido and male vitality, and in studies supplementation with fenugreek was shown to increase testosterone in men.
Fenugreek is also believed to be very effective in the treatment of dysmenorrhea, or painful periods. It has also been used for heartburn, high cholesterol, increasing the production of breast milk, and weight loss.
Aside from its medicinal purposes fenugreek also sees use in many products to add flavor, often to simulate the taste of maple syrup.
Fenugreek Side Effects
If you are considering taking fenugreek, and you’re wondering is fenugreek safe, you’ll first need to figure out whether you are allergic to it or not. Many fenugreek side effects are a result of being allergic to the plant or seed; or from having other health ailments that don’t agree with the supplement. Some people can be dangerously hypersensitive to fenugreek, and if you are allergic to peanuts or chickpeas, you are at high risk of being allergic to fenugreek.
Fenugreek also has the potential to induce hypoglycemia in diabetics since it lowers your blood sugar, so if you have diabetes, it may be best to consult your doctor before beginning to take fenugreek. In otherwise healthy people, fenugreek has a chance to cause diarrhea, flatulence, or sweating. It is also not recommended to take fenugreek when you are pregnant or nursing since the effects of the supplement on infants and breast milk are not fully known. We do know one of the benefits of fenugreek is that it can increase the breast milk supply, but not sure how much of the supplement finds its way into the breast milk itself and whether or not it could be harmful to the breastfeeding baby. Some studies have shown fenugreek causes birth defects in animals, and it has been reported to potentially cause birth defects in humans as well.
As a whole, fenugreek supplements would be considered relatively safe for people who are healthy, but as with any supplement regimen, it is best to discuss things with your doctor before beginning to take anything.