Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L. Leguminosae)


Fenugreek is a plant in the family Fabaceae. Both its leaves and seeds are commonly used. Fenugreek is produced in Asia, the Middle East, South America, and southern Europe. Fenugreek seeds are often used in the making of garam masala (a South Asian spice blend). Fenugreek has a long history of medical uses in Indian and Chinese medicine, and it has been used for numerous indications, including for labor induction, as a digestive aid, and as a general tonic to improve metabolism and health.
Preliminary research has suggested possible blood sugar-lowering and blood lipid-lowering properties of fenugreek seed powder when taken by mouth. However, at this time, the evidence is insufficient to make a conclusion on the effectiveness of fenugreek for diabetes or high blood lipids. Preliminary trials have also studied the use of fenugreek to stimulate breast milk production and for exercise performance enhancement, obesity, and skin care.
Caution is warranted in patients taking blood sugar-lowering agents. Blood glucose levels should be monitored. Lowered blood potassium levels have also been reported. Potassium levels should be monitored in patients taking fenugreek and potassium-lowering agents, and in those with underlying heart disease.

Related Terms

1-Methylnicotinic acid, 3-carboxy-1-methyl pyridinium, 3-O-alpha-L-rhamnosyl quercetin, 4-hydroxyisoleucine (4-OH-Ile), 5,7,3'-trihydroxy-5'-methoxylisoflavone, abish (Amharic), alholva (Spanish), alkaloids, amber, beta-carotene, betaines, beta-sitosteryl glucopyranoside, biochanin A, bird's foot, bockhornsklöver (Swedish), Bockshornklee (German), Bockshornsamen (German), calycosin, Canadian fenugreek seed, Canadian-grown fenugreek, carotenoids, çemen (Turkish), chilbe, CN 19062, CN 19067, CN 19070, CN 19071, coumarin, D-3-O-methyl-chiroinsitol, daidzein, dioscin, diosgenin, ethyl-alpha-D-glucopyranoside, Fabaceae, fatty acids, fenegriek (Dutch), fenigreko, fenogreco (Galician, Spanish), fenogrego, fenugree, fenugreek flour, fenugreek gums, fenugreek leaves, fenugreek saponin I, fenugreek seed, fenugreek spouts, FenuLife®, fenu-thyme, fieno greco (Italian), flavonoids, Foenugraeci semen, formononetin, furostanol glycosides, galactomannan, gamma-schizandrin, gitogenin 3-O-alpha-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1-->2)-beta-D-glucopyranoside, gitogenin 3-O-beta-D-xylopyranosyl-(1-->6)-beta-D-glucopyranoside, görögszéna (Hungarian), graine de fenugrec (French), gray hay, Greek hay, Greek hay seed, griechische Heusamen (German), halba (Malay), hilbeh (Arabic, Hebrew), hu lu ba, hulba (Arabic), irilone, iron, kaempferol 3,7-O-alpha-L-dirhamnoside, kaempferol-3-O-alpha-L-rhamnoside, kasoori methi (Hindi, Urdu), kozieradka pospolita (Polish), kreeka lambalääts (Estonian), lectins, mente (Kannada), mentikura (Telugu), mentulu (Telugu), methi (Assamese, Bengali, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Maithili, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Urdu), methika (Sanskrit), methini, methri, methro, methylnicotinic acid, methyl-protodeltonin, methyl-protodioscin, minerals, mithi guti (Assamese), N-methyl nicotinic acid, N,N'-dicarbazyl, naringenin, niacin, nicotinic acid, orientin-2''-O-p-trans-coumarate, pazhitnik grecheskiy (Russian), penantazi (Burmese), phenolic acids, protodioscin, quarto, quercetin, quercetin 3,7-O-alpha-L-dirhamnoside, riboflavin, sag methi (Hindi), sambala, sapogenins, saponins, sarsasapogenin, sarsasapogenin 3-O-beta-D-xylopyranosyl-(1-->6)-beta-D-glucopyranoside, sarviapila (Finnish), scopoletin, shabaliidag (Pahlavi), shambelile (Farsi), smilagenin, sotolone, star fenugreek, syndrex, tricin, tricin-7-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, trigonella, Trigonella, Trigonella balansae, Trigonella caerulea, Trigonella foenum-gracecum, Trigonella poenumgraecum L., Trigonella semen, Trigonella stellata, trigonelline, trigoneoside Xa, trigoneoside Xb, trigoneoside XIb, trigoneoside XIIa, trigoneoside XIIb, trigoneoside XIIIa, uluhal (Sinhala), uwatu (Swahili), vendayam (Tamil), venthayam (Malayalam), vitamin C, vitexin, vitexin-2''-O-p-trans-coumarate, wheat-fenugreek, yamogenin, ZT-5.
Brand names: Fenugreek by Nature's Way, Fenugreek by Now, Fenugreek by Planetary Formulas, Fenugreek by Puritan's Pride, Fenugreek by Solaray, Fenugreek by Vitamin World, Fenugreek Caps by Thompson Nutritional Products, Fenugreek Capsules by Greenbush, Fenugreek Freeze Dried by Eclectic Institute, Fenugreek Liquid Extract by Eclectic Institute, Fenugreek Liquid Extract by Nature's Answer, Fenugreek Powder by Greenbush, Fenugreek Seed by Doctor's Trust, Fenugreek Seed by Natural Factors, Fenugreek Seed by Nature's Herbs, Fenugreek Seed by Swanson, Fenugreek Seed C/S Powder by Alternative Health and Herb Remedies, Fenugreek Seed Liquid Extract by Gaia Herbs, Fenugreek Tea by Alvita Tea, Fenugreek Tincture by Alternative Health and Herb Remedies, Fenugrene by Laboratoires Legra (France), Organic Fenugreek Seed by Solaray, Single Herb Fenugreek Vegicaps by Christopher's Original Formulas.
Combination product examples: Fibernat (fenugreek, guar gum, and wheat bran), Billberry Plus by Eagle Pharmaceuticals (Australia), Blood Sugar by Nature's Way, Blood Sugar Formula by Iherb Inc., Bustea Enhancement Tea by Greenbush, Comfrey and Fenugreek by Dial Herbs, Completia Diabetic Multivitamin by Nature's Way, Daily Detox II by DNE Pharmaceuticals Inc., Enhancement Blend Capsules by Greenbush, Femaprin by Nature's Way, Fenugreek Plus by Metagenics, Fenugreek and Thyme by Nature's Sunshine, Fenugreek and Thyme by Now, Fenugreek and Thyme by Solaray, Fenulife® Best Weight Control by Swanson, Fenulin by Gerard House Ltd (United Kingdom), FenuZyme™ Bronc Care by Amazing Herbs/Theramune, Fibernat (fenugreek seed powder, guar gum, and wheat bran), FolliGro™ System 1 Fenugreek Extract by FolliGro Ltd, Gadional by Cinfa (Spain), Garlic and Horseradish Complex by Suisse Naturopathics (Australia), Garlic and Horseradish Plus C Complex by Cenovis (Australia), Gland Formula Liquid by Alternative Health and Herb Remedies, Glucobetic® by Flourish, Gluco Science™ by Source Naturals, Glucose Modulators by Solgar, Glucose Optimizer by Jarrow, Glucose Regulation by Doctor's Choice, Glycemic Factors by BioChem, Heart Formula Tincture by Alternative Health and Herb Remedies, Herbal Breast Enlargement Kit by Greenbush, Immune System Formula Tincture by Alternative Health and Herb Remedies, Lung Support Formula Tincture by Alternative Health and Herb Remedies, More Milk Plus by MotherLove, Natural Factors betaine HCL with Fenugreek, Panax Complex by Blackmores Ltd (Australia), Promilin Fenugreek Extract by Source Naturals, Sinus and Hayfever by Vitaglow (Australia), Sthenorex by Laboratoires Pharmygiene (France), Sugar Balance by Lean Results, Sugar Ease by Pinnacle, Super CKL Colon Detox by Amazing Herbs/Theramune, System Well by Nature's Way, System Well Ultimate Immunity by Nature's Way, Ultimate Respiratory Cleanse by Nature's Secret, Women's Nursing Mom Tea by Yogi Tea.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Diabetes mellitus type 2 (Grade: B)
Fenugreek is commonly used for diabetes prevention and treatment. In preliminary research, fenugreek lowered serum glucose levels both acutely and chronically. Although this is promising, additional research is needed to make a firm conclusion.
Diabetes mellitus type 1 (Grade: C)
Fenugreek may be helpful in treating type 1 diabetes. Although preliminary studies are promising, high-quality studies are needed before a firm conclusion can be made.
Exercise performance enhancement (Grade: C)
There is insufficient evidence to support the use of fenugreek as an exercise performance enhancement agent. Further well-designed research is required before conclusions can be made.
Galactagogue (breast milk stimulant) (Grade: C)
Fenugreek has been used traditionally in India to increase milk flow. Additional research is needed to confirm this finding.
Head lice (Grade: C)
In preliminary research, a cream containing fenugreek and henna reduced lice infestation. Additional research investigating fenugreek alone is warranted.
High cholesterol (Grade: C)
Fenugreek has been investigated as a treatment for high cholesterol. Although initial results are promising, additional research is needed before conclusions can be made.
Obesity (Grade: C)
Limited research suggests that fenugreek may reduce daily fat intake, and increase fullness and satiety. Further well-designed human research is required before conclusions can be drawn.
Skin care (Grade: C)
Preliminary research suggests that a skin cream containing fenugreek seed extract benefits the skin. Further research is required before conclusions can be made.