Benefits of fenugreek seeds


SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

Fenugreek is truly a multi-purpose herb. People from Western Asia and the Mediterranean have used fenugreek for thousands of years to flavor food, improve health, and soothe skin maladies. In more recent years, fenugreek has gained global popularity as an herbal supplement with a variety of health benefits.

While fenugreek has many promising applications, not all of its uses have yet been backed up by rigorous scientific examination. This guide will tell you which of fenugreek’s health benefits are supported by evidence, and which ones remain more folklore than fact.

Read on to learn what fenugreek is, what it does in the body, and where you can buy fenugreek to try it for yourself.

To start, what exactly is this multifunctional herb?

What Is Fenugreek?

Fenugreek (scientific name Trigonella foenum-graecum) is a plant native to Western Asia and the Mediterranean. It has three green or yellow oblong leaves, which can be consumed fresh or dried.

Fenugreek leaves and seeds are important for cooking and medicines. Fenugreek seeds, also known as methi seeds, are a common ingredient in Indian curries, as well as Turkish, Persian, Eritrean, Ethiopian, and Egyptian cuisine. Because of their sweet, maple-syrup like smell and flavor, fenugreek seeds are also added to artificial maple syrup, candies, ice cream, beverages, tobacco, soaps, and cosmetics.

While people use fenugreek seeds in a wide array of products today, they have also been consuming them for thousands of years. Archaeologists have discovered cooked fenugreek seeds in Iraq dating back to 4,000 BC!

Not only do fenugreek seeds taste good, but they have several health benefits. Let’s take a closer look at the composition of fenugreek or methi seeds to figure out why they work as an effective herbal supplement.

Fenugreek seeds are where the medicinal magic happens.

What Makes Fenugreek Work? Important Compounds

As you’ll read below, the health benefits of fenugreek involve the regulation of blood sugar, stimulation of milk flow in new mothers, maintenance of hormones, and treatment of inflammation. Scientists have broken down some of the main compounds in fenugreek seeds to get to the root of the herb’s beneficial effects. These are some of the most important ones:

  • Trigonelline: a betaine molecule also present in coffee and alfalfa that may help prevent and treat diabetes.
  • 4-hydroxyisoleucine and 2-oxoglutarate: molecules with an insulin-stimulating effect.
  • Protodioscin: compound that may have aphrodisiac effects.
  • Diosgenin and Yamogenin: compounds used in the commercial synthesis of progesterone and other steroid products.
  • 3-Hydroxy-4,5-dimethyl-2(5H)-furanone: compound that causes a maple-syrup scent in body excretions.

Now that you’ve started to get a sense of its main uses, let’s look closer at what fenugreek does and why it works. First, though, a word of caution about herbal supplements.

Look before you leap! Some retailers care more about their bottom line than your health.

Why You Should Be Cautious About Herbal Supplements

Herbal remedies can be very effective alternative treatments to prescription medication. At the same time, there’s a big business of retailers that exaggerate health claims to market their products and make money.

The best way to evaluate these claims is to take a look at objective, rigorous scientific research. Has the supplement been tested in a randomized control trial and been proven to have statistically significant effects? If its benefits are purely anecdotal, then you might not want to waste your time or money, or worst case scenario, risk causing yourself more harm than good.

With these guiding principles in mind, we’ve analyzed the scientific evidence behind the top supposed fenugreek benefits. Read on for the best fenugreek uses and the scientific evidence that backs them up.

Fenugreek Benefits: Analysis of 4 Popular Uses

People take fenugreek in a variety of forms as an herbal supplement. Its most common form is a pill or capsule, but it can also be made into a tea or ground up and combined with other ingredients to make a poultice and applied to injured skin.

The most commonly claimed fenugreek benefits are milk production in new mothers, blood sugar levels, testosterone and male libido, and treating inflammation.

Let’s look at the top four benefits of fenugreek, along with the research studies backing up these effects. While these are the top studies currently available, hopefully, scientists will continue to evaluate its effects and gain more insight into what fenugreek does and why it works.

Fenugreek can act as a galactagogue. (Keep scrolling to learn what galactagogue means.)

Use 1: To Enhance Milk Production in New Mothers

Fenugreek is widely used as a galactagogue, or a milk flow-enhancing agent in new mothers. Nursing women take fenugreek in pill form or drink it as a tea after they’ve had a baby.

While fenugreek appears to be an effective galactagogue, it can have adverse effects if you take it while pregnant. Most doctors advise that women should only take fenugreek supplements once they’ve had their baby and not before.

Let’s take a look at one of the studies backing up fenugreek’s efficacy as a galactagogue.

The Evidence: Fenugreek and Milk Production

This study examined the effectiveness of fenugreek tea as a galactagogue in new mothers. It divided 66 mother-infant pairs into three groups. One group drank the tea everyday, the second drank a placebo tea, and the third drank no tea and served as the control group.

Researchers looked at breast milk volume and infant weight gain over a few days and found significantly higher volume and weight gain among the fenugreek tea-drinking group. From the study, researchers concluded that “Maternal galactagogue herbal tea supplementation seems to be useful for enhancing breast milk production and facilitating infant birth weight regain in early postnatal days.”

If you’re interested in trying fenugreek as a milk-enhancing agent, how should you take it?

How to Take Fenugreek to Stimulate Milk Production

First and foremost, new mothers should consult their doctors before adding fenugreek as an herbal supplement to their diet. Since it can have significant effects, everyone should make sure that they don’t have any pre-existing conditions that could interact adversely with fenugreek.

If you decide to take fenugreek, you could take it as fenugreek tablets or drink it as a fenugreek tea. A typical dosage is two to three capsules (580 to 610 mg each) taken by mouth three times a day. Drinking it as a tea is a more mild amount. You might drink between one and three cups a day as a hot tea, iced tea, or mixed with apple juice.

Again, in most cases, pregnant women should not take a fenugreek supplement. You can read more about some of fenugreek’s potential side effects below.

Once it enters your bloodstream, fenugreek goes head to head with the gummy bear brigade in the Battle of Blood Sugar.

Use 2: To Maintain Blood Sugar Levels

Fenugreek seeds are commonly used as a supplement to control blood glucose, especially to prevent or treat diabetes. It appears to alleviate problems around the metabolism of blood sugar. Let’s take a look at some of the evidence behind this use of fenugreek.

The Evidence: Fenugreek and Blood Sugar

Several studies have looked at fenugreek and found that it had a significant effect on blood glucose levels. This first study gave a fenugreek supplement in both capsule and cooked form (on biscuits) to 60 non-insulin-dependent male diabetics. Ultimately, the study found that “2 grams of a powdered mixture of traditional medicinal plants in either raw or cooked form can be successfully used for lowering blood glucose in diabetics.”

A second study also gave fenugreek to diabetic subjects in the form of food, this time incorporating it into bread. Like in the first study, researchers found that “acceptable baked products can be prepared with added fenugreek, which will reduce insulin resistance and treat type 2 diabetes.”

Alleviating problems of blood sugar metabolism is a common use of fenugreek, and people with diabetes may consider adding it to their diets in capsule or food form.

How to Take Fenugreek to Control Blood Glucose

The most common ways to take fenugreek to control blood sugar levels are in capsule form, ground up and added to food, or made into a tea. The recommended dosage falls between 2.5 and 15 grams a day. The amount you take varies depending on your weight, any other medications you take, and other factors.

Fenugreek seeds alone haven’t been shown to treat diabetes, and it may have adverse interactions with certain diabetes medications. To figure out dosage and account for any variables, you should talk to your doctor before adding fenugreek to your healthcare routine.

Ooh la la. Wine and roses have got nothing on fenugreek when it comes to getting in the mood.

Use 3: To Boost Libido

One of fenugreek’s ancient uses is to enhance libido. Mediterranean and Western Asian cultures have incorporated the herb into their diets for thousands of years to enhance sexual desire. Recent studies have suggested that fenugreek may increase libido in both men and women.

The Evidence: Fenugreek and Sexual Desire

Let’s take a look at one study involving males and another involving females. This 2011 study tested the effect of fenugreek extract on male libido, which it defined as sexual drive, urge, or desire. It recruited 60 men between the ages of 25 and 52 and gave them either 600 mg of fenugreek twice a day or placebo capsules.

The physiological results were self-reported by participants, meaning that the results have some room for subjective bias. Overall, the group taking fenugreek supplements reported a 28% increase in libido while those taking the placebo reported a decrease overall. Scientists concluded that fenugreek can have “a significant positive effect on physiological aspects of libido” and that the herb “may assist to maintain normal healthy testosterone levels.”

This 2015 study gathered 80 female participants between the ages of 20 and 49 with a self-reported low sex drive. They took fenugreek extract or a placebo for eight weeks and reported their experiences using the “Derogatis Interview for Sexual Functioning” and “Female Sexual Function Index” questionnaires.

Ultimately, researchers concluded that “T foenum-graecum seed extract is a well-tolerated and an effective botanical medicine for use in the support of sexual function for pre-menopausal women, in particular increasing sexual desire and arousal, with positive effects in concentration of E2 and free testosterone.” The studies suggest that fenugreek supplements may increase libido in both men and women.

How to Take Fenugreek to Boost Libido

Fenugreek can be taken as a capsule or brewed into a tea, or the seeds can be ground up and added to food or bread. A dose of 500 to 600 mg fenugreek capsules per day is recommended to boost libido. As with any herbal supplement, you should check with your doctor to determine the right amount for you.

Is your skin red, bumpy, or injured? A fenugreek-based poultice can help.

Use 4: To Soothe Skin Inflammation or Injury

Fenugreek powder has long been combined with other soothing herbs to make poultices and treat skin inflammation and injury. Recent studies have suggested that fenugreek may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

The Evidence: Fenugreek and Skin Inflammation

A group of researchers in Saudi Arabia extracted and isolated compounds in fenugreek seeds to determine whether or not they had anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They found that “water extracts and flavonoids” from fenugreek seed extract did have the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that people have long reported. However, further research is needed on the effects of taking fenugreek on a daily basis.

A 2012 study found that fenugreek reduced joint inflammation and arthritis in rats. Research on fenugreek’s anti-inflammatory properties in humans is needed to back up its effectiveness in this area as an herbal supplement.

How to Use Fenugreek to Treat Skin Inflammation

To soothe injured or inflamed skin, people traditionally grind dried herbs or boil fresh herbs in water and make a paste. You might combine fenugreek seed powder with other skin-soothing herbs, like slippery elm, flaxseed, lobelia, or goldenseal, as well as medicinal charcoal. After combining everything into a paste, you would spread it across a clean piece of gauze, linen, or cotton and apply it directly to the skin.

You would leave the poultice on the skin for anywhere from one to 24 hours, taking it off when the skin feels better. Some people warm the poultice before pressing it to the skin.

Along with the four main uses described above – enhancing milk production, controling blood glucose, boosting libido, and treating skin inflammation – people claim a number of other fenugreek health benefits. Let’s take a look at other potential positive effects of taking fenugreek.

People have been consuming fenugreek seeds for thousands of years.

Other Potential Health Benefits of Fenugreek

People have been consuming fenugreek for thousands of years, and many believe that it has a wide range of physical benefits. These are a few additional anecdotal fenugreek seeds benefits:

  • Balance cholesterol
  • Soothe upset stomach and digestive problems
  • Reduce menstrual cramps
  • Reduce appetite
  • Reduce fat mass
  • Maintain liver and kidney health
  • Soothe muscle pain
  • Reduce fever

Can fenugreek seeds really accomplish all this? At this point, there’s little scientific evidence behind these alleged benefits, so much more research is needed to assess the efficacy of this herbal supplement.

If you’re not experiencing serious injury or fever that would be better treated with prescription medication, then it may be worth trying fenugreek capsules or seeds to see if they work for you. As with any other new drug, you should consult with your doctor to make sure that you don’t take any medicines or have any other conditions that could interact poorly with fenugreek.

Fenugreek does have some potential adverse side effects, and it’s important to be aware of them before incorporating the supplement into your routine.

Before you introduce fenugreek to your diet, you should talk to a medical practitioner about possible side effects and interactions.

Fenugreek Side Effects: 6 Potential Problems

While it’s common to think of herbal remedies as harmless, that’s not necessarily the case. Fenugreek can potentially have adverse effects in the body, and it’s important to be aware of them so that your healthcare plan doesn’t do more harm than good. The following are the six main potential fenugreek side effects.

Side Effect 1. Induce Childbirth

For the most part, pregnant women are advised not to take fenugreek. Because it contains oxytocin, fenugreek could act as a uterine stimulant, meaning it could cause contractions and preterm labor. Some people have used fenugreek to induce labor, but you shouldn’t try this without speaking to a medical practitioner first. You should also be aware that studies have shown that a large dose of fenugreek caused birth defects in rats and developmental problems in mice.

The other side effect of taking fenugreek while pregnant is that it can give a false alarm of Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD). MSUD is an inherited genetic disorder so named because it causes a maple syrup-like smell in body excretions. Fenugreek won’t cause this often fatal disorder, but it can cause a serious scare and unnecessary emergency testing when the baby is born.

Side Effect 2. Diarrhea

Fenugreek may cause stomach irritation and diarrhea. This can be especially dangerous if the nursing infant gets sick, as she could get dehydrated.

Be careful if you take a blood thinner, as fenugreek could cause excessive bleeding.

Side Effect 3. Bleeding

Fenugreek contains a chemical compound called coumarin that can act as a blood thinner. While researchers don’t know yet if the normal dosage of fenugreek has a significant effect on the blood, they warn people on blood-thinning or anti-coagulant medications to be careful and consult their doctors before taking fenugreek supplements.

Side Effect 4. Hypoglycemia

If you’re taking both medicine for diabetes and fenugreek supplements, you should measure your blood sugar levels so they don’t become too low and cause hypoglycemia. Since fenugreek can lower blood glucose levels, you don’t want to take too many medications and cause your levels to dip too low. Similarly, you should be cautious if you’re already prone to low blood sugar.

Consult with your doctor about the right amount, and carefully monitor the effects that fenugreek supplements have on your blood sugar levels.

Side Effect 5. Allergic Reactions

Whenever you’re introducing a new supplement into your diet, you should be aware of any possible allergic reactions. Fenugreek is in the same family as chickpeas, green peas, soybeans, and peanuts, so you should be especially mindful about your body’s reaction if you have allergies to any of these foods. An allergy to one doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have an allergy to another, but you should proceed with caution if you’ve never consumed fenugreek before.

Check with your doctor, and try just a small dosage of fenugreek at first. Stop taking it if you experience a rash, hives, swelling, or trouble breathing.

This last side effect isn’t dangerous, but it may cause unpredictable cravings for Belgian waffles.

Side Effect 6. “Maple Syrup” Sweat or Urine

This last side effect doesn’t cause any harm, apart from the false alarm about MSUD in infants described above. Fenugreek has a strong, sweet odor, and eating the seeds might pass that maple syrup-like smell into your sweat and urine or the sweat and urine of a nursing baby. If you start to notice this maple syrup-like odor, then you’ll know the cause!

If you’d like to try taking fenugreek for any of the above-described health benefits, where can you find it?

Where to Buy Fenugreek

Fenugreek is a common herbal supplement that you can buy in many healthcare or grocery stores or online. Walgreens, Walmart, and CVS, for instance, sell fenugreek in capsule and tea form, and Whole Foods sells the capsules, tea, and seeds (look for methi seeds).

You can also find methi seeds and powder in many smaller Indian and Middle Eastern grocery stories. Finally, you can shop online and buy capsules, tea, and seeds from Amazon or a number of other online retailers that pop up via Google Shopping.

Some good brands include Nature’s Way, Solaray, Oregon’s Wild Harvest, Alvita, Yogi Tea, and Nature’s Answer. Teas and capsules cost somewhere between $5 and $10. You can also take powdered fenugreek seeds, or fenugreek extract in a liquid tincture. Read on for suggested dosages for how to take fenugreek in capsule, tea, powder, or tincture form.

Fenugreek is most commonly taken in capsule form.

How to Take Fenugreek

As you read above, you can take fenugreek in capsule form, brew it into a tea, or add the powdered seeds to food. Fenugreek is also available in a liquid tincture form, so you could add a few drops to juice or water. Here’s how much fenugreek to take in each form.

  • Capsule: 500 to 600 mg, three times a day.
  • Tea: two to three cups a day. You can make hot or iced tea or combine it with juice.
  • Powder: five to 30 grams of de-fatted seed powder up to three times a day. It’s best to consume fenugreek powder before or as part of a meal.
  • Tincture: three to four mL three times a day. One drop is similar to a 500-600 mg capsule.

Your dosage depends on a number of factors, including weight, age, and health status. Your doctor or an herbalist can help you determine the right individualized dosage.

Taking Fenugreek as an Herbal Supplement: Best Uses

Fenugreek, an herb native to the Mediterranean and the Middle East, has a number of health benefits. While scientific research remains limited at this point, there’s some substantial evidence that points to fenugreek’s effectiveness in enhancing milk production, regulating blood glucose levels, boosting libido, and acting as an anti-inflammatory agent on irritated skin.

While people have claimed for a long time that fenugreek has a number of other positive effects as well, as this point many of its purported benefits remain anecdotal. Without the weight of a controlled study, you should be skeptical of anyone claiming fenugreek is a miracle drug. You should also be cautious about fenugreek’s potential side effects, and make sure to speak with a medical practitioner before introducing it as an herbal supplement into your diet.

If you do find that fenugreek has beneficial effects on your health, then you may be glad to hear that fenugreek or methi seeds in various forms are widely accessible and affordable at a variety of grocery and healthcare stores, both of the online and brick-and-mortar variety. If fenugreek turns out to be the herbal supplement you’ve been looking for, then you can join an ancient practice of fenugreek consumption that dates back almost 6,000 years.

Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article! Rebecca Safier About the Author

Rebecca graduated with her Master’s in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.

Get Free Guides to Boost Your SAT/ACT

What are the Health Benefits of Fenugreek and How to Maximize Them?

  • Park HJ, Lee KS, Lee EK, Park NC. Efficacy and Safety of a Mixed Extract of Trigonellafoenum-graecum Seed and Lespedeza cuneata in the Treatment of Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. The world journal of men’s health. Published September 2018.
  • Turkyılmaz C, Onal E, Hirfanoglu IM, et al. The effect of galactagogue herbal tea on breast milk production and short-term catch-up of birth weight in the first week of life. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.). Published February 2011.
  • Ghasemi V, Kheirkhah M, Vahedi M. The Effect of Herbal Tea Containing Fenugreek Seed on the Signs of Breast Milk Sufficiency in Iranian Girl Infants. Iranian Red Crescent medical journal. Published August 15, 2015.
  • Forinash AB, Yancey AM, Barnes KN, Myles TD. The use of galactogogues in the breastfeeding mother. The Annals of pharmacotherapy. Published October 2012.
  • Younesy S, Amiraliakbari S, Esmaeili S, Alavimajd H, Nouraei S. Effects of fenugreek seed on the severity and systemic symptoms of dysmenorrhea. Journal of reproduction & infertility. Published January 2014.
  • Inanmdar W, Sultana A, Mubeen U, Rahman K. Clinical efficacy of Trigonellafoenumgraecum (Fenugreek) and dry cupping therapy on intensity of pain in patients with primary dysmenorrhea. Chinese journal of integrative medicine. Published May 25, 2016.
  • Pattanittum P, Kunyanone N, Brown J, et al. Dietary supplements for dysmenorrhoea. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews. Published March 22, 2016.
  • Bae JY, Kim JE, Choue R, Lim H. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and Fenugreek (Trigonellafoenum-graecum) Tea Drinking Suppresses Subjective Short-term Appetite in Overweight Women. Clinical nutrition research. Published July 2015.
  • Mathern JR, Raatz SK, Thomas W, Slavin JL. Effect of fenugreek fiber on satiety, blood glucose and insulin response and energy intake in obese subjects. Phytotherapyresearch: PTR. Published November 2009.
  • Pradeep SR, Srinivasan K. Alleviation of Cardiac Damage by Dietary Fenugreek (Trigonellafoenum-graecum) Seeds is Potentiated by Onion (Allium cepa) in Experimental Diabetic Rats via Blocking Renin-Angiotensin System. Cardiovascular toxicology. Published June 2018.
  • Panda S, Biswas S, Kar A. Trigonelline isolated from fenugreek seed protects against isoproterenol-induced myocardial injury through down-regulation of Hsp27 and αB-crystallin. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.). Published 2013.
  • Vyas S, Agrawal RP, Solanki P, Trivedi P. Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities of Trigonellafoenum-graecum (seed) extract. Actapoloniaepharmaceutica. Published 2008.
  • Sindhu G, Ratheesh M, Shyni GL, Nambisan B, Helen A. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects of mucilage of Trigonellafoenumgraecum (Fenugreek) on adjuvant induced arthritic rats. International immunopharmacology. Published January 2012.
  • Swaroop A, Jaipuriar AS, Gupta SK, et al. Efficacy of a Novel Fenugreek Seed Extract (Trigonellafoenum-graecum, Furocyst) in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). International journal of medical sciences. Published October 3, 2015.
  • HassanzadehBashtian M, Emami SA, Mousavifar N, Esmaily HA, Mahmoudi M, Mohammad Poor AH. Evaluation of Fenugreek (Trigonellafoenum-graceum L.), Effects Seeds Extract on Insulin Resistance in Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Iranian journal of pharmaceutical research: IJPR. Published 2013.
  • Poole C, Bushey B, Foster C, et al. The effects of a commercially available botanical supplement on strength, body composition, power output, and hormonal profiles in resistance-trained males. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Published October 27, 2010.
  • Ktari N, Trabelsi I, Bardaa S, et al. Antioxidant and hemolytic activities, and effects in rat cutaneous wound healing of a novel polysaccharide from fenugreek (Trigonellafoenum-graecum) seeds. International journal of biological macromolecules. Published February 2017.
  • Dawid-Pać R. Medicinal plants used in treatment of inflammatory skin diseases. Postepydermatologiiialergologii. Published June 2013.
  • Pundarikakshudu K, Shah DH, Panchal AH, Bhavsar GC. Anti-inflammatory activity of fenugreek (Trigonellafoenum-graecum Linn) seed petroleum ether extract. Indian journal of pharmacology. Published 2016.
  • WaniSahmad, Kumar P. Fenugreek: A review on its nutraceutical properties and utilization in various food products. ResearchGate. Published January 2016.
  • Faeste CK, Namork E, Lindvik H. Allergenicity and antigenicity of fenugreek (Trigonellafoenum-graecum) proteins in foods. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology. Published January 2009.
  • Joseph NI, Slavin E, Peppers BP, Hostoffer RW. Fenugreek Anaphylaxis in a Pediatric Patient. Allergy & rhinology (Providence, R.I.). Published April 12, 2018.
    • Was this article helpful?
    • 15 Wonderful Benefits Of Fenugreek You Must Know Today Ravi Teja Tadimalla Hyderabd040-395603080 December 17, 2019

      Fenugreek is native to central and south Asia (predominantly India). It is one of the oldest staple remedial plants with a myriad of benefits. Nowadays, it is also grown throughout the US, North Africa, and the Mediterranean regions.

      A lot of research has been done on the goodness of fenugreek and how it can positively impact human health. In this post, we will look into all of that.

      Table Of Contents

      What Is Fenugreek? How Does It Work?

      Fenugreek is an annual herb that belongs to the Fabaceae family, the same family as soy. The fresh and dried seeds of this plant have been used as a spice and flavoring agent for ages. India accounts for its major production throughout the world, with 80% output coming directly from Rajasthan.

      Fenugreek helps stabilize blood sugar levels and stimulates the production of insulin. Hence, it is very effective for people dealing with diabetes (1).

      This is just one of the ways fenugreek can benefit you. There are more benefits that we will discuss in the next section.

      What Are The Health Benefits Of Fenugreek?

      1. Fenugreek Boosts Testosterone

      Fenugreek can boost testosterone levels. The hormone plays a vital role in many bodily functions in males.

      A study conducted on 100 male participants between the ages of 35 to 65 years showed an increase in serum testosterone levels and the sperm count. The participants were made to add a fenugreek supplement to their diets for 12 weeks to tackle testosterone deficiency (2).

      2. Is Beneficial During Breastfeeding

      A study was conducted on 122 participants to review the systematic galactagogue effect of fenugreek. The study compared the result of fenugreek with another galactagogue and a placebo. It was found that ingesting fenugreek could increase breast milk production in lactating women (3).

      3. Promotes Hair Growth

      Fenugreek seeds are packed with various nutrients that promote hair growth. Even its leaves help in this regard. Research suggests applying the paste made from the leaves to the scalp promotes hair growth and preserves the natural hair color (4).

      A study conducted on men and women between 30 and 67 years of age showed a positive effect on their hair health. About 83% of the volunteers reported an improvement in hair volume and hair thickness – post treatment with fenugreek (5).

      4. Can Aid Weight Loss

      Early research shows that 500 mg of fenugreek supplement can decrease body fat. Another study conducted on four groups of mice showed a significant decrease in body weight following ingestion of fenugreek over 22 days (6).

      Fenugreek also contains fiber that promotes a feeling of fullness and keeps people from overeating. In a study, participants who drank fenugreek tea felt less hungry compared to the other group that didn’t (7).

      5. Aids Diabetes Treatment

      The fiber in fenugreek forms a thick and sticky gel in the intestine, which makes it harder to digest excess sugars and bad fats.

      A study was conducted on two groups of people with type 2 diabetes. The group that consumed fenugreek powder twice a day saw a significant improvement in their diabetes symptoms (8).

      6. Can Treat Dandruff

      Fenugreek can also be used as a conditioner, thanks to its high mucilage content. The plant has been used since the ancient times to treat a flaky scalp. The powder of the seeds can also be blended with a hair mask or a conditioner to accentuate its benefits and naturally soften hair.

      Fenugreek also makes for a relatively inexpensive treatment for dandruff. The seeds and the leaves can be used for this purpose, both externally and internally, as they have antibacterial and antifungal properties (9).

      7. May Treat Acne

      Fenugreek works within the digestive system to eliminate all the toxins from the body. The leaves of fenugreek can work wonders for acne. Research shows that applying the paste of the leaves to acne can prevent fresh outbreaks (10). You can apply the paste in the night and wash it off the following morning with warm water.

      Fenugreek also contains salicylic acid that unclogs pores (11).

      8. Improves Skin Health

      Fenugreek is a wonderful and harmless alternative to all the contemporary creams that usually contain petroleum products and other chemicals.

      Fenugreek has natural oils that help in hydrating, moisturizing, and softening skin. The potassium, carotene, and vitamin C in the seeds boost skin elasticity and overall health (12).

      9. Helps Relieve Symptoms Of PCOS

      In a study, women with hyperandrogenism, menstrual disturbances, and infertility were given fenugreek capsules. The participants saw a major improvement in their symptoms within two months.

      The participants had also reported no side effects from the fenugreek capsules. Their ovaries reverted to normal health, and their period cycles were restored (13).

      10. Can Relieve Constipation

      Fenugreek improves digestion and prevents stomach disorders. The seeds are rich in mucilage and help prevent constipation by softening the mucus membranes and improving their composition. The seeds also resist excess mucus production at the same time.

      Fenugreek is a bulk-forming laxative, thanks to its high fiber and mucilage content. The seeds expand after coming in contact with water. This triggers a reflex muscular contraction as the volume increases, thereby stimulating bowel movement (14).

      11. Treats Heartburn

      In a study, fenugreek products were found to reduce the severity of heartburn. Fenugreek had worked similar to an OTC antacid medication (15).

      Fenugreek also soothes gastrointestinal inflammation by forming a shield over the intestinal lining.

      12. Lowers Cholesterol

      Fenugreek seeds lower total cholesterol and LDL (the bad cholesterol). They are rich sources of steroidal saponins that intercept the absorption of cholesterol and triglycerides (16). This way, the seeds discourage the production of cholesterol in the liver.

      One human double-blind trial demonstrated that fenugreek, in addition to lowering total cholesterol levels, also stimulated the production of good cholesterol (17).

      13. Fight Inflammation

      The linolenic and linoleic acids in fenugreek seeds offer protection from inflammation. In addition, the ethanol, mucilage, and flavonoids extracted from fenugreek seeds also contribute to their anti-inflammatory properties (18).

      14. Reduce Aluminum Toxicity

      In a study, whole fenugreek seed powder could reduce aluminum toxicity by offering protection to the brain, bones, and kidneys (19).

      Another study showed that fenugreek could also reduce memory loss. Fenugreek powder can be used for animals as well as a detoxifying supplement that reduces the harmful effects of aluminum toxicity (20).

      These are the many ways fenugreek seeds can improve your health. But how do you consume them? Is there a specific method to follow?

      How To Consume Fenugreek Seeds

      To get the maximum benefit, first, soak fenugreek seeds in water overnight. You can then ground them or use them as they are.

      Alternately, you can also buy the vacuum-packed paste in departmental stores.

      The seeds can be eaten on an empty stomach. You can also infuse the powder in water, use it as a seasoning, a supplement, or even apply to the affected area.

      We have already seen what is responsible for the goodness of fenugreek. We have looked at a few of the power nutrients in these seeds. In the next section, we will look at the other nutrients that make fenugreek a power food.

      What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Fenugreek?

      The values in the brackets include the daily value of the particular nutrient the serving of the ingredient meets.

      Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
      Energy 323 Kcal 16%
      Carbohydrates 58.35 g 45%
      Protein 23 g 41%
      Total Fat 6.41 g 21%
      Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
      Dietary Fiber 24.6 g 65%
      Folates 57 µg 14%
      Niacin 1.640 mg 7%
      Pyridoxine 0.600 mg 46%
      Riboflavin 0.366 mg 28%
      Thiamin 0.322 mg 27%
      Vitamin A 60 IU 2%
      Vitamin C 3 mg 5%
      Sodium 67 mg 4.5%
      Potassium 770 mg 16%
      Calcium 176 mg 18%
      Copper 1.110 mg 123%
      Iron 33.53 mg 419%
      Magnesium 191 mg 48%
      Manganese 1.228 mg 53%
      Phosphorus 296 mg 42%
      Selenium 6.3 µg 11%
      Zinc 2.50 mg 23%

      Values sources from USDA, spices, fenugreek seed

      That’s an impressive nutritional profile, isn’t it? But can you consume as much fenugreek as you want in a day? Probably not. There is a specific dosage for specific individuals.

      How Much Fenugreek Can You Take In A Day?

      Different dosages are used in clinical studies and treatments. These depend on the needs of the patient.

      • People with high cholesterol can take 10 to 30 grams of the seeds/powder three times a day, with meals.
      • Lactating mothers who wish to increase their milk production should aim for 500 to 1000 mg of fenugreek a day.
      • People with type 2 diabetes should consider taking 2.5 to 15 grams of the seeds daily.
      • Men who want to increase their testosterone levels can opt for 500 to 600 mg of fenugreek daily.

      For other diseases, conditions, and symptoms – please refer to the dosages prescribed by your doctor. Always make sure to consult an expert so that you don’t go overboard on supplements.


      Fenugreek has a lot of beneficial properties for a wide range of health problems. Including the seeds in your diet is quite simple.

      Just be wary of the side effects. If you have a severe medical condition, it is better to visit a physician and keep a tab on any side effects at the early stages of ingestion.

      Do you use fenugreek seeds? Did you experience any of the benefits? Do share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment in the box below.

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Is fenugreek safe to take every day?

      Taking fenugreek seeds daily can improve your health and maintain a non-toxic eco-system in the body. Hence, you can take it every day.

      Can you take fenugreek on an empty stomach?

      A moderate amount of fenugreek can be taken on an empty stomach. The best way to consume the seeds/powder is in warm water.

      How long does fenugreek take to start working?

      Depending on the severity of the condition, the time taken can be as short as 24 to 72 hours or as long as 3 to 9 months or even a year.

      What happens if you take too much fenugreek?

      As fenugreek is hot, it can cause skin dryness if consumed in excess. Some people have also reported diarrhea, headaches, bloating, gas, and maple syrup odor in the urine.
      If fenugreek is not taken as per the recommended dosage, one may also experience nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing, facial swelling, and severe allergic reactions (especially in hypertensive people).

      Does fenugreek interact with medications?

      If you are on medications, we suggest you consult your doctor before taking fenugreek. Fenugreek can lower the blood sugar levels, and hence, people with diabetes should monitor their blood sugar to ensure their levels are not reduced way too low.
      Fenugreek is also known to interact with thyroid medicines and may aggravate symptoms of hypothyroidism.

      1. “The most useful medicinal herbs…” Biomedical Research and Therapy.
      2. “The efficacy study of…” US National Library of Medicine.
      3. “Effectiveness of fenugreek as a…” Phytotherapy Research, US National Library of Medicine.
      4. “The health benefits of trigonella…” Rameesh Institute of Voc & Tech Education.
      5. “Fenugreek+micronutrients…” ResearchGate.
      6. Effect of fenugreek on total body…” Pharmacology Online.
      7. “Fennel and fenugreek…” Clinical Nutrition Research, US National Library of Medicine.
      8. “Role of fenugreek in the prevention…” Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders, US National Library of Medicine.
      9. “Chemical composition and antifungal…” ResearchGate.
      10. “Wonders of leafy species…” Academia.
      11. Salicylates in foods” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Semantic Scholar.
      12. Effect of cream formulation of…” Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research.
      13. “Evaluation of fenugreek…” Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, US National Library of Medicine.
      14. “Fenugreek” University of Michigan.
      15. “Anti-heartburn effects of a…” Phytotherapy Research, US National Library of Medicine.
      16. “Steroid saponins from fenugreek seeds…” Steroids, US National Library of Medicine.
      17. “Role of fenugreek in the prevention of…” Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
      18. “Anti-inflammatory activity of…” Indian Journal of Pharmacology, US National Library of Medicine.
      19. “Fenugreek seeds reduce…” Nutrition Research and Practice, US National Library of Medicine.
      20. “Fenugreek seeds, a…” BMC Veterinary Research.

      Recommended Articles:

      • How Does Fenugreek Help Cure Diabetes?
      • 8 Side Effects Of Fenugreek Seeds
      • 6 Best Benefits and Uses Of Fenugreek Leaves
      • 23 Best Benefits and Uses Of Fenugreek/Methi Powder

      The following two tabs change content below.

      • Latest Posts
      • Bio

      Latest posts by Ravi Teja Tadimalla (see all)

      • Eleuthero: Is This Medicinal Herb Really Safe? – October 9, 2019
      • Selenium Deficiency: 6 Serious Ways It Can Affect You – September 9, 2019
      • Hypnosis For Weight Loss – August 28, 2019
      • 7 Oil Pulling Benefits For Better Health + How To Do It – May 22, 2019
      • Tyramine: What Is It And What Foods To Avoid – April 22, 2019

      Ravi Teja Tadimalla

      Ravi Teja Tadimalla is a Senior Content Writer who specializes in writing on Health and Wellness. He graduated from SRM University, Chennai, and has been in the field for well over 4 years now. His work involves extensive research on how one can maintain better health through natural foods and organic supplements. Ravi has written over 250 articles and is also a published author. Reading and theater are his other interests.


      Reeder C, Legrand A, O’Connor-Von SK. The Effect of Fenugreek on Milk Production and Prolactin Levels in Mothers of Preterm Infants. Clinical Lactation 2013;4(4):159-165.

      Sewell AC, Mosandl A, Bohles H. False diagnosis of maple syrup urine disease owing to ingestion of herbal tea. N Engl J Med 1999;341:769.. View abstract.

      Sharma RD, Raghuram TC, Rao NS. Effect of fenugreek seeds on blood glucose and serum lipids in type I diabetes. Eur J Clin Nutr 1990;44:301-6. View abstract.

      Sharma RD, Raghuram TC. Hypoglycaemic effect of fenugreek seeds in non-insulin dependent diabetic subjects. Nutr Res 1990;10:731-9.

      Sharma RD, Sarkar A, Hazra DK, et al. Use of fenugreek seed powder in the management of non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. Nutr Res 1996;16(8):1331-9.

      Sharma RD, Sarkar DK, Hazra B, et al. Hypolipidaemic effect of fenugreek seeds: a chronic study in non-insulin dependent diabetic patients. Phytother Res 1996;10:332-4.

      Singh RB, Niaz MA, Rastogi V, et al. Hypolipidemic and antioxidant effects of fenugreek seeds and triphala as adjuncts to dietary therapy in patients with mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia. Perfusion (Munich) 1998;11:124-30.

      Sowmya P, Rajyalakshmi P. Hypocholesterolemic effect of germinated fenugreek seeds in human subjects. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 1999;53:359-65.. View abstract.

      Steels E, Rao A, Vitetta L. Physiological aspects of male libido enhanced by standardized Trigonella foenum-graecum extract and mineral formulation. Phytother Res. 2011 Sep;25(9):1294-300. View abstract.

      Suksomboon N, Poolsup N, Boonkaew S, Suthisisang CC. Meta-analysis of the effect of herbal supplement on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes. J Ethnopharmacol 2011;137(3):1328-1333. View abstract.

      Swafford S, Berens P. Effect of fenugreek on breast milk volume. Abstract presented at: 5th International Meeting of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine; September 11-13,2000, Tucson, Arizona.

      Tolmunen T, Voutilainen S, Hintikka J, et al. Dietary folate and depressive symptoms are associated in middle-aged Finnish men. J Nutr 2003;133:3233-6.. View abstract.

      Turkyilmaz C, Onal E, Hirfanoglu IM, et al. The effect of galactagogue herbal tea on breast milk production and short-term catch-up of birth weight in the first week of life. J Altern Complement Med 2011;17(2):139-42. View abstract.

      Wankhede S, Mohan V, Thakurdesai P. Beneficial effects of fenugreek glycoside supplementation in male subjects during resistance training: a randomized controlled pilot study, J. Sport and Health Sci. 2016. 6: 176-182.

      Wilborn C, Bushey B, Poole C, et al. Effects of Torabolic supplementation on strength and body composition during an 8-week resistance training program. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2008;5(1):11.

      Wilborn C, Taylor L, Poole C, et al. Effects of a purported aromatase and 5alpha-reductase inhibitor on hormone profiles in college-age men. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2010;20(6):457-65. View abstract.

      Yalcin SS, Tekinalp G, Ozalp I. Peculiar odor of traditional food and maple syrup urine disease. Pediatr Int 1999;41:108-9.

      Younesy S, Amiraliakbari S, Esmaeili S, Alavimajd H, Nouraei S. Effects of fenugreek seed on the severity and systemic symptoms of dysmenorrhea. J Reprod Infertil 2014;15(1):41-8. View abstract.

      Never heard of fenugreek? Don’t worry — you’re not alone — but that doesn’t mean you should continue to be in the dark on this medicinal herb. In fact, I recommend using it on a regular basis.

      Why? Because fenugreek has some amazing health benefits that could transform your health and change your life for the better. How? It all starts with inflammation. As recent research shows, it helps reduce both internal and external inflammation … in addition to improving your sex life and reproductive function, as well as enhance nutrition for babies!

      And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this important herb.

      Fenugreek is an annual herb with light green leaves and small white flowers. It’s of the pea family (Fabaceae) and also known as Greek hay (Trigonella foenum-graecum). The fenugreek plant grows to about two to three feet tall, and the seed pods contain 10–20 small, flat, yellow-brown, pungent and aromatic seeds.

      Fenugreek seeds have a somewhat bitter taste, similar to celery, maple syrup or burnt sugar, and are often used to make medicine. However, it has a far more pleasant taste when cooked. The graecum seeds, which are usually dried and ground, are the most widely used part of fenugreek. The leaves are often used in cooking as well.

      Fenugreek can be taken by mouth or used to form a paste that’s applied to the skin to help heal inflammation. In manufacturing, fenugreek extracts can be found in soaps and cosmetics.

      As noted in the book “Essential Oils in Food Preservation, Flavor and Safety,” fenugreek extract and oil are known to possess antimicrobial, antioxidant, antidiabetic and antitumorigenic activities. Cultivated in North Africa, the Middle East, Egypt and India, it has a long history as an ingredient in traditional medicine. The T. foenum-graecum galactomannan acts as a gum and an emulsifier, making it useful as a stabilizer as well as thickening agent for food. It’s also used as a spice and flavoring agent in food preparation.

      Fenugreek Nutrition Facts

      One serving — 1 tablespoon — of fenugreek seeds contains:

      • 35.5 calories
      • 6.4 grams carbohydrates
      • 2.5 grams protein
      • 0.7 gram fat
      • 2.7 grams fiber
      • 3.7 milligrams iron (20 percent DV)
      • 0.1 milligram manganese (7 percent DV)
      • 0.1 milligram copper (6 percent DV)
      • 21 milligrams magnesium (5 percent DV)
      • 32.6 milligrams phosphorus (3 percent DV)
      • 0.1 milligram vitamin B6 (3 percent DV)

      8 Fenugreek Benefits and Uses

      While more research is needed in terms of identifying and confirming all of the its benefits, this herb is shown to help with numerous health issues. Here are eight of the most proven fenugreek benefits.

      1. Improves Digestive Problems and Cholesterol Levels

      This herb may help with numerous digestive problems, such as upset stomach, constipation and inflammation of the stomach. For instance, the water-soluble fiber in fenugreek, among other foods, helps relieve constipation. (1) It also works to treat digestion and is often incorporated in an ulcerative colitis diet treatment plan due to its anti-inflammatory effects. (2)

      Fenugreek also seems to benefit those with heart conditions, such as hardening of the arteries and high blood levels of certain fats, including cholesterol and triglycerides. It also shows potential for helping those who are diabetic. In fact, a study out of India showed that administering 2.5 grams of fenugreek twice daily for three months to people dealing with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus significantly lowered cholesterol naturally, along with triglycerides, without affecting HDL cholesterol. (3)

      2. Reduces Inflammation Inside the Body

      Fenugreek helps with inflammation within the body, such as:

      • Mouth ulcers
      • Boils
      • Bronchitis
      • Infection of the tissues beneath the surface of the skin
      • Tuberculosis
      • Chronic coughs
      • Cancer
      • Kidney ailments

      According to Dr. Richard Palmquist, chief of integrative health services at Centinela Animal Hospital in Inglewood, Calif., fenugreek was discovered to have medicinal qualities thousands of years ago by Ayurvedic medicine practitioners. Thought to lower blood sugar, he reports it’s useful for many things, including management of metabolic and nutritive disorders such as diabetes. (4)

      Fenugreek appears to slow absorption of sugars in the stomach and stimulate insulin. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the spice is known as a “phlegm mover” and is said to break up stuck energies and cool inflammation within the body.

      Research published in International Immunopharmacology studied the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant of fenugreek mucilage on arthritic rats and confirmed its power to fight inflammation. It also “demonstrated the potential beneficiary effect of fenugreek mucilage on adjuvant induced arthritis in rats,” meaning fenugreek may be an effective natural arthritis treatment as well. (5)

      3. Increases Libido in Men

      Some fenugreek uses for men include treating hernias, erectile dysfunction and other male problems, such as baldness. That’s because fenugreek may increase sexual arousal and testosterone levels.

      While it’s best to consult with a physician before using natural therapies for treating illnesses or improving sexual performance, supplements produced from fenugreek have been shown to increase sexual desire and performance in men, as well as naturally remedy impotence.

      In a study published in Phytotherapy Research, 60 men between the ages of 25 and 52 years with no history of erectile dysfunction were supplemented with either a placebo or 600 milligrams of fenugreek extract per day for six weeks. Through self-evaluation, the participants noted their results with fenugreek, reporting that the fenugreek dietary supplement had a positive effect on their libidos. Ultimately, the study found that fenugreek extract had a significant influence on sexual arousal, energy and stamina and helped participants maintain normal testosterone levels. (6)

      4. Promotes Milk Flow in Breastfeeding

      Fenugreek also helps breastfeeding women who may experience low milk supply. Fenugreek can increase a woman’s breast milk supply because it acts as a galactagogue. Galactagogues are substances that help with increasing milk supply. This stimulates the milk ducts and can increase milk production in as little as 24 hours.

      While more research is needed to determine the exact efficacy and safety of fenugreek on breastfeeding, several studies note its use in promoting milk flow. Complementary & Alternative Medicine, the Annals of Pharmocotherapy, Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Veterinary Medicine International, among others, have all published studies on this issue. (7, 8, 9, 10)

      5. Lowers Inflammation from Outside the Body

      In addition to lowering internal inflammation, fenugreek is sometimes warmed and used externally as a poultice. This reduces external inflammation and can treat (11):

      • Pain and swelling in the muscles and lymph nodes
      • Gout
      • Wounds
      • Leg ulcers
      • Sciatica
      • Dandruff
      • Eczema

      It’s important to test the area first to ensure that it does not burn or further inflame, however.

      6. Adds Flavor and Spice to Food

      In foods, fenugreek is often included as an ingredient in spice blends, mostly found in Indian fare, such as curried dishes. It’s also used as a flavoring agent in imitation maple syrup, foods, beverages and tobacco. (12) The leaves from the plant can be used in salads, and both fresh and dried leaves are used in Indian cookery.

      7. Helps with Eating Disorders

      Beyond enhancing flavor, fenugreek has been shown to increase appetite, which results in restorative and nutritive properties. A study published in Pharmacology Biochemistry, and Behavior was designed to investigate the effects of a fenugreek seed extract on feeding behavior. Experiments were performed to determine food consumption and motivation to eat, as well as metabolic-endocrine changes.

      The results showed that chronic oral administration of the fenugreek extract significantly increased food intake and the motivation to eat. The report also indicated, however, that the treatment does not prevent anorexia nor the decreased motivation to eat. (13)

      In cases of anorexia nervosa, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends taking 250 to 500 milligrams of fenugreek up to three times a day, but it may not be safe for children — so as with any medication or natural treatments, check with your doctor first.

      8. Improves Exercise Performance

      The Journal of Sports Science and Medicine reports a study of the effects of combined creatine and fenugreek extract supplementation on strength and body composition in men. Forty-seven resistance-trained men were divided into two groups according to body weight. Each group then took either 70 grams of a dextrose placebo, 5 grams of creatine and 70 grams of dextrose, or 3.5 grams of creatine and 900 milligrams of fenugreek extract and participated in a four-day a week periodized resistance-training program for eight weeks.

      Body composition, muscular strength endurance and anaerobic capacity of participants was tested. The creatine/fenugreek group showed significant increases in lean mass, bench press and leg press strength. The study concluded that creatine combined with fenugreek extract supplementation had a significant impact on upper body strength and body composition as effectively as the combination of creatine with dextrose. (14)

      Why is this good? The use of fenugreek with creatine supplementation may be an effective means for enhancing creatine uptake while eliminating the need for excessive amounts of simple carbohydrates, so you may want to consider adding fenugreek to your list of best foods for athletes.

      9. Helps Improve Blood Sugar

      A clinical trial showed that ingestion of fenugreek seeds soaked in hot water shows promise as a complementary therapy in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Over the course of eight weeks, 11 out of a total of 18 participants consumed fenugreek seeds soaked in hot water and the remaining seven consumed fenugreek seeds mixed with yogurt. The participants who consumed the seeds soaked in hot water showed significant improvement in blood glucose levels compared with the group that ate the seeds mixed with yogurt. (15)

      History and Origin

      Fenugreek has a long history as both a culinary and medicinal herb in the ancient world. It was one of the spices the Egyptians used for embalming, and the Greeks and Romans used it for cattle fodder, which is where the Latin foenum graecum, meaning “Greek hay,” originated. It also was grown extensively in the imperial gardens of Charlemagne. The first recorded use of fenugreek is described on an ancient Egyptian papyrus dated as far back as 1500 B.C.

      Fenugreek is native to southern Europe, the Mediterranean region and Western Asia. It’s cultivated from western Europe to China for the aromatic seeds and is still grown for fodder in parts of Europe and northern Africa. Fenugreek is an indispensable ingredient in Indian curries.

      Fenugreek seed is commonly used in cooking, and, historically, fenugreek was used for a variety of health conditions, including for menopause relief and digestive problems. It was also used for inducing childbirth.

      Today, fenugreek is used as a folk or traditional remedy for diabetes and loss of appetite, as well as to stimulate milk production in breastfeeding women. It’s also applied to the skin for inflammation among numerous other possible benefits.

      Fenugreek Recipes

      Here are some great fenugreek recipes that you can try as well as some ideas for women who are breastfeeding or experiencing engorgement.

      • Aromatic Blackeye Bean Curry
      • Jamaican Curry Powder

      Chicken and Mushroom Masala with Fenugreek, Turmeric and Curry

      Serves: 4–5


      • 1 cup of fresh, organic mushrooms, chopped into bite-sized pieces
      • 4–5 small organic chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces
      • 1 cup kefir
      • ½ teaspoon turmeric
      • ½ teaspoon curry powder
      • ½ teaspoon chili powder
      • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
      • 1 cup fresh fenugreek (methi leaves) or 2 tablespoons dry fenugreek leaves, rinsed and chopped
      • 4 chopped medium-size fresh tomatoes
      • 1 chopped medium onion
      • 1 green chili, sliced or chopped
      • ¼ tablespoon ginger paste or 1/2 tablespoon freshly chopped ginger
      • ¼ tablespoon garlic paste or 1/2 tablespoon freshly chopped garlic
      • 1 tablespoon ghee
      • salt to taste

      Masala ingredients:

      • 1-inch cinnamon stick
      • 1 big cardamom
      • 2–3 green cardamom
      • 2–3 cloves
      • 1 bay leaf


      1. Place mushrooms and chicken in a bowl with kefir and curry to marinate for approximately 30 minutes.
      2. Chop the remaining ingredients while marinating.
      3. Heat ghee in a pan, and be careful not to burn.
      4. Add the cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaf.
      5. Sauté until the mixture becomes fragrant, but make sure not to burn it.
      6. Add the onions and sauté until golden brown.
      7. Add the green chili, ginger and garlic.
      8. Then add the tomatoes and continue to sauté with continuous stirring.
      9. If needed, add a little water to keep it from drying out.
      10. Add the turmeric, coriander and red chili powder.
      11. Add the marinated mushrooms and chicken.
      12. Add the chopped fenugreek leaves.
      13. Add about a ½ cup of water.
      14. Stir, cover the pan and slowly simmer, making sure to cook the chicken thoroughly.
      15. Serve over basmati rice or quinoa.

      Side Effects

      There are a few possible fenugreek side effects. When taken by mouth, it may cause gas, bloating and diarrhea. It also can cause irritation when applied directly to the skin, so always test a small area first.

      Even though it has been used for inducing childbirth, women should always use caution when taking fenugreek during pregnancy. Make sure you talk to your health care provider about it prior to use.

      It’s also important to note that fenugreek could cause harmful effects that can thin the blood and cause excessive bleeding in some people. Those with underlying bleeding disorders or who take blood-thinning medications or anticoagulants should not take it without their doctors’ approval. Signs of excessive bleeding include easy bruising, vomiting blood or passing dark stools.

      Read Next: 7 Adaptogen Herbs to Lower Cortisol



      • 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.

      How Much Do We Know?

      • 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.

      What Have We Learned?

      • 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.

      What Do We Know About Safety?

      • 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.

      Keep in Mind

      • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

      The History of Fenugreek

      The next herb/spice we will take a closer look at in our History of Spice Series is Fenugreek.

      Common Name: Fenugreek
      Scientific Name: Trigonella foenum-graecum
      Other Names: Bird’s Foot, Bockshornklee, Greek Hay Seed

      Fenugreek is an annual plant belonging to the Fabaceae family. It is used both as an herb, from the leaves of the plant, and as spice, from the seeds. The small seeds are a yellowish brown color and have a somewhat bitter taste and potent aroma.

      The History of Fenugreek
      The use of Fenugreek dates back as far as six thousand years ago. Through discoveries, Archaeologists believe this spice was used as early as 4000 BC, when remains of this herb where discovered in Tell Halal, Iraq.

      Fenugreek was considered to be a medicinal drug and used by the Ancient Egyptians for this purpose. They believed that Fenugreek could treat burns and induce childbirth. They also used it in mummification. The Greek physician, Hippocrates, used it as a soothing herb. Other ancient Greeks used Fenugreek as a cure for infections. The ancient Romans used it to treat fevers and respiratory and intestinal issues. They also used it to help heal wounds.

      During the first Jewish-Roman war, Fenugreek was mixed with boiling oil. This mixture was used to keep invaders from entering the city. Fenugreek is often served with food during Rosh Hashanah. It is believed that eating Fenugreek is symbolic for helping one to increase their blessings in the coming year.

      Today, India is the world’s leading producer of Fenugreek, followed by Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Mediterranean and Argentina.

      Culinary Uses
      Fenugreek is a very common ingredient in Indian cuisine. The Fenugreek seeds are used in the preparation of pickles, curry powders and pastes. You will frequently see this spice used in chutneys, stews, spice rubs, and flatbreads. It is also an ingredient in sweets for Indian and Middle Eastern recipes. Fenugreek’s distinctive aroma allows it to be used as a substitute for maple syrup or vanilla.

      Medicinal Uses
      Many take fenugreek in the form of a capsule as a food/vitamin supplement. It is frequently used in tea as a way to promote milk flow for breast-feeding mothers. Many believe that Fenugreek helps with diabetes symptoms and increases appetite.

      Is fenugreek good for you?

      Share on PinterestConsuming fenugreek may help with digestive problems, low testosterone, and arthritis.

      Currently, there is not enough conclusive evidence to fully support the use of fenugreek for any medical purpose.

      However, people have been using fenugreek in varying forms for hundreds or potentially thousands of years to treat a very wide range of conditions, such as:

      • digestive problems, including constipation, loss of appetite, and gastritis
      • breast milk production and flow
      • diabetes
      • low testosterone or libido
      • painful menstruation
      • menopause
      • arthritis
      • high blood pressure
      • obesity
      • breathing problems
      • boils
      • low exercise performance
      • ulcers
      • open wounds
      • muscle pain
      • migraines and headaches
      • childbirth pains

      Of all the reported health benefits of fenugreek, only a few have been substantially backed by scientific evidence.

      Among other benefits, some research suggests that fenugreek may:

      Reduce the risk of diabetes

      Quite a few studies in animals have shown that at least four compounds in fenugreek have antidiabetic properties. They primarily:

      • reduce intestinal glucose absorption
      • delay gastric emptying
      • improve insulin sensitivity and action
      • reduce concentrations of lipid-binding protein

      In a 2017 study, mice fed a high-fat diet with 2 percent whole fenugreek seed supplementation for 16 weeks had better glucose tolerance than those who did not receive the supplementation.

      However, the fenugreek did not improve glucose tolerance in the mice who ate a low-fat diet. Also, the authors concluded that 4 days of voluntary exercise on a spinning wheel was ultimately more effective at improving glucose tolerance in all the mice than fenugreek.

      Overall, the researchers found fewer benefits from fenugreek than they expected.

      Improve milk production and flow

      Fenugreek may help stimulate breast milk production and ease the flow. Practitioners of traditional Asian medicine have long recommended fenugreek for this purpose.

      In a 2014 study, 25 women who had recently given birth drank three cups of fenugreek tea daily for 2 weeks and saw an increase in milk volume in the first weeks.

      Improve weight loss

      Fenugreek may suppress the appetite and increase feelings of fullness, which could help reduce overeating and lead to weight loss.

      In a 2015 study, nine overweight female Korean participants drank a fennel, fenugreek, or placebo tea before lunch. Those who drank fenugreek tea reported feeling less hungry and more full. However, the tea did not cause the participants to consume less.

      Because of the fiber content, fenugreek fiber extract powders may also lead to a feeling of fullness.

      Raise testosterone and boost sperm count

      Fenugreek may help increase low testosterone and sperm levels.

      In a 2017 study, 50 male volunteers took an extract of fenugreek seeds for 12 weeks. About 85 percent of the participants had an increased sperm count.

      The results also indicate that the extract consistently improved mental alertness, mood, and libido.

      Reduce inflammation

      The substantial levels of antioxidants in fenugreek give it great potential as an anti-inflammatory agent.

      Results of a 2012 study in mice suggest that the high antioxidant flavonoid content in fenugreek seeds can reduce inflammation.

      Reduce the risk of heart and blood pressure conditions

      Fenugreek may help regulate cholesterol levels and improve blood pressure, which can reduce the risk of developing heart conditions and improve heart health.

      This may be because fenugreek seeds contain roughly 48 percent dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is very hard to digest, and it forms a viscous gel in the intestines that makes it harder to digest sugars and fats.

      Pain relief

      Fenugreek has long been used for pain relief in traditional systems of medicine.

      Researchers think that compounds called alkaloids in the herb help block sensory receptors that allow the brain to perceive pain.

      In a 2014 study, 51 women with painful periods took capsules of fenugreek seed powder three times a day for the first 3 days of their periods for 2 consecutive months. They experienced shorter durations of pain and fewer symptoms between the months.

      Benefits of Fenugreek

      Fenugreek is relatively new to hit Western markets, but it has been used for health and beauty applications in the Middle East and Near East for centuries. Ancient Egyptian papyrus even mentions fenugreek, suggesting that it has long enjoyed widespread use in many parts of the world.

      Also known as methi, fenugreek refers to seeds that come from a plant that grows in the hot, dry regions of India (Organic Facts, 2014). In fact, many culinary enthusiasts know fenugreek best as an addition to popular Indian dishes. In addition to its culinary applications, however, fenugreek is considered a health food that can have a positive impact on several areas of functioning.

      Fenugreek Can Promote Blood Sugar Stability

      As you eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar rises in response. For most people, this increase in blood sugar causes a compensatory release of the hormone insulin. Insulin is responsible for telling your cells to absorb extra glucose from the bloodstream, keeping your blood sugar levels stable (American Diabetes Association, 2016). In people with diabetes, however, insulin does not work the way it should. Cells may become resistant to insulin, or the body does not release the correct amount of this hormone. This causes fluctuations in blood sugar that can have negative health consequences.

      Fenugreek seed helps to slow the rate at which your body digests carbohydrates (Doctor Oz, 2014). This prevents your blood sugar from spiking rapidly. Fenugreek also naturally lowers the amount of glucose you absorb from carbohydrate-rich foods. It may also modulate the release of insulin to promote stable blood sugar. In a clinical study of people with type 1 diabetes, eating fenugreek powder reduced blood sugar and improved glucose tolerance (Sharma, Raghuram, & Rao, 1991). This makes fenugreek a healthy choice for people with diabetes or those who want to better moderate their blood sugar levels.

      Fenugreek May Lower “Bad” LDL Cholesterol Levels

      There are two major classes of cholesterol that affect your health: “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol tends to stick to artery walls, which can reduce blood flow and contribute to cardiovascular disease risk (American Heart Association, 2016). The other kind of cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), is considered “good” cholesterol because it actually promotes better cardiovascular health.

      An array of compounds in fenugreek helps to lower LDL cholesterol levels. This includes the polysaccharides hemicellulose, tannin, pectin, saponins, and mucilage (Mercola, n.d.). These polysaccharides prevent bile salts from being absorbed into the colon, which promotes healthier cholesterol levels. Some of these polysaccharides may also bind to toxins, preventing them from affecting the body (Mercola, n.d.).

      Fenugreek Is a Fiber Rich Food

      Dietary fiber is a form of carbohydrate that your body cannot digest (Mayo Clinic, 2015). Even though your body does not digest fiber, it is an important nutrient for your health. Dietary fiber adds bulk to digestive material, increasing gastrointestinal regularity (Mayo Clinic, 2015). Getting enough dietary fiber may also stabilize your blood sugar levels and prevent high cholesterol.

      There are a whopping 25 grams of dietary fiber in 100 grams of fenugreek powder (Mercola, n.d.). That is equivalent to your entire recommended daily fiber intake. One way that people traditionally take fenugreek is by pounding it into a paste and adding sugar or olive oil. This can be an effective way to prevent constipation and improve your digestive health.

      Fenugreek is a Versatile Addition to Your Meals

      One of the best things about fenugreek is its versatility. This food can be purchased as whole seeds or in powdered form. This allows you to add fenugreek to a variety of your favorite foods. For example, make a favorite Indian curry with fenugreek seeds. Alternatively, sprinkle crushed fenugreek on your morning eggs, add it to salad dressing, or incorporate it into your favorite smoothie recipe. Sprinkle by sprinkle, fenugreek will help you become more healthy.

      Fenugreek is a Nutritional Powerhouse

      In addition to its other healthful properties, fenugreek is packed with vitamins and minerals. The seeds are an excellent source of iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and vitamin B6 (Organic Facts, 2014). Fenugreek is also protein rich, meaning that it can provide amino acids to repair damaged tissues and will prevent you from experiencing intense food cravings. Emerging research also suggests that fenugreek is a potent source of phytonutrients that may have antioxidant effects. These phytonutrients include yamogenin, diosgenin, choline, tigogenin, and trigonelline (Organic Facts, 2014).

      Fenugreek May Alleviate Menstrual Symptoms

      In traditional medicine, fenugreek has long been lauded for helping women who experience discomfort during their menstrual periods. More recently, scientific evidence confirms these findings. In a clinical study of 100 women, those who were given fenugreek seed powder rated significantly lower pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, headache, and loss of energy compared to those who received a placebo (Younesy et al., 2014), suggesting that the seeds may alleviate common menstrual symptoms.

      Fenugreek Products

      Find a list of our fenugreek products below.

      Fenugreek Seeds


      These whole fenugreek seeds are ready for cooking and can be used be used to complement any variety of dishes from eggs and potatoes to butter chicken and red lentil soup!

      Fenugreek Powder


      Create a unique sauce, spice up a beverage, or create a classic curry or chutney with this versatile fenugreek powder. Try adding a teaspoon to your tea for a sharp kick.

      Curry Powder


      This powder combines fenugreek with turmeric, coriander, cumin, black pepper, ginger, mustard seed, and more to make a scrumptious sauce for meat and vegetarian dishes alike.

      Vindaloo Curry


      For a pre-made curry that is easy to add to any dish, this bold blend combines fenugreek with cinnamon, red chile and peppercorn for a sharp taste that pairs well with any dish!

    About the author

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *