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What Is Fenugreek? History, Benefits And Side Effects

Updated on February 3, 2012

So what exactly is fenugreek and what can it do for you? If you're a mother or pregnant you probably at least once have heard the word fenugreek. It is widely known to help lactating mothers increase their milk supply. But fenugreek has so many uses beyond helping a nursing mother promote milk for her baby.

Fenugreek, a leguminous plant part of the pea family, was first widely used in western Asia and southeastern Europe. It is grown mostly in north western India as well as Africa, India, central and South America.

Fenugreek Benefits

Fenugreek seeds are used in cooking for use in curry mixes, chutney and making maple syrup. Besides the uses outside of cooking, fenugreek is used in a number of ways medicinally.

Research has been conducted by the National Institute of Nutrition at Hyderabad in India on the use of fenugreek for diabetes. Patients were given doses of fenugreek anywhere from 25gms to 100gms every day. The conclusion of the study was a lessoned reactive hyperglycemia in the diabetic patients. Also, glucose, serum cholesterol and triglycerides were reduced.

Fenugreek has also been shown to help with the following:

♦ To lower high blood cholesterol
♦ Helpful for menstrual and menopause symptoms
♦ Good for lactating mothers for milk supply
♦ Dandruff - Form a paste with the fenugreek seeds applied to the scalp. Mix this same paste with yogurt for a great conditioner for the hair
♦ Good for the skin for a facial
♦ Good for bad breath and body odor
♦ Feminine hygiene - Provides relief for vaginal discharge like leucorrhoea
♦ For digestive problems for colic, flatulence, dysentery and dyspepsia take a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds soak in over waternight, in the morning eat the seeds and drink the glass of water
♦ Fenugreek helps in cleansing the body in three ways. This herb cleanses the body's colon by lubricating the intestines which dissolves any mucous that has hardened. It helps the lungs to expel any phlegm and toxins in the system as well as protect against infections. It also cleanses your lymphatic system. The lymph system is responsible for removing all toxic waste and dead cells from your body.
♦ Helps with diarrhea - Take half teaspoon of seeds with water three times a day
♦ For anemia - Soak a teaspoon of the seeds in glass of water overnight and in the morning eat the seeds and drink the water. The seeds have a high amount of iron.
♦ Helps with respiratory infection - During the early stages of infections such as bronchitis, influenza, sinusitis, catarrh, pneumonia the fenugreek tea helps the body sweat and excrete any toxins present and to shorten the fever.
♦ Sore throat - Boil 2 tablespoons of fenugreek seeds with 1 litre of water for an hour, let cool than gargle in your mouth.

Potential Fenugreek Side Effects

As using any type of medicine or herb there are always possible side effects. If you should decide to take any fenugreek supplement you should exercise caution and also consult your physician.

♦ Repeated use of fenugreek can result in skin irritation
♦ Fenugreek has been known to cause asthma symptoms worsen in some and to lower blood glucose in some people who has diabetes
♦ Swelling, numbness or wheezing have been indicated
♦ Very large doses of fenugreek may cause diaarhea, nausea or flatulence
♦ Pregnant women should be cautioned and avoid large doses. Large doses of fenugreek can cause contractions of the uterus
♦ Using fenugreek with other medications could cause an adverse reaction. Fenugreek can act as a blood thinner and it is best to not use with Heparin, Warfarin and Ticlopidine or any other medication that is a blood thinner
♦ Your sweat and urine can end up having a maple syrup scent. if you are breastfeeding your milk and/or baby could smell like maple syrup
♦ Can cause loose stools
♦ If taken more than 100 grams a day can have intestinal distress and nausea
♦ If seeds or fenugreek tea ingested and given to a baby or in late pregnancy this can lead to a false diagnosis of maple syrup urine disease

Fenugreek For Breast Enhancement

Feungreek is also used for breast enlargement. The herb works by imitating the effects of estrogen in the body as well as provoking the production of the hormone prolactin. These two hormones are responsible for the growth of the breasts. Lower levels will result in smaller and underdeveloped breasts.

If you decide to use fenugreek to enhance your breasts find something that is in a liquid extract. Why the liquid instead of capsules? Liquids absorb much more into the bloodstream versus if you were to take capsules. The reason is because the liquid bypasses your liver which in turn the liver breaks down 80 to 90% of items that pass through it. What this means is that by using the herb directly on the skin you will get the full benefit of the herb's nutrients.

Does fenugreek really work when it comes to breast enlargement? I can not say from personal experience either way, but I have read countless information on fenugreek as well as testimonials from many women who claim to have seen a dramatic difference in their breasts. Will it work for you? It may or may not, but there is a very good chance that it will. With using fenugreek or any other herbs for that matter patience is a must. You will need to give your body at least 6 to 8 weeks for the fenugreek to fully work.

Fenugreek For Weight Loss

Taking fenugreek has been known to aid in weight loss by making a person feel fuller and reducing appetite.The herb helps to reduce the amount of sugar our bodies can adsorb from food as well as allowing carbohydrates to go through the system without passing into the bloodstream.

A study done by the National Institute of Health and Frutaron and the University of Minnesota found that people who had 8 grams of fenugreek powder had been significantly fuller than those who hadn't. Fenugreek powder has 75% soluble fiber which is known to increase fullness.

How To Prepare Fenugreek

Fenugreek can be prepared a number of ways from drinking it as a tea, eating the seeds and sprouts, using it in powder form or in liquid extract.

To make a tea you can use either fenugreek seeds or powder. To make tea using powder, use starting out one tablespoon and place in a coffee filter in your coffee maker. Brew about 10 ounces of water for your tea. You can drink this either hot or cold.

The fenugreek powder can be used in tea or used in lotion for breast enhancement massage. Just mix some of the powder in your lotion and massage your breasts in a circular motion for at least five minutes. You can also use liquid extract for massage or place a few drops of the liquid in any favorite drink that you like.

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I am 19, and NOT PREGANANT , and wont be for yearssssss cuz im too young! BUT!....i was really want to know if fenugreek can enlarge my breasts, even if im not pregnant? Has non-preganat women use it before and found larger breasts? Or is it only possible for large breast enhancements just for pregnant women? SOMEONE PLEASE HELP! my boobs used to be a begining C, but now theyre a full B cuz i always am trying to loose weight. Im sick of this! And id love to get a fulll C or even better a D! D':

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      People with diabetes, please do not take it. It will spike your sugar in atleast 2X. I tried to add 10 drops of extract liquid Funugreek in a cup of water. I checked my sugar after 1 hr and the sugar level was from 150 to 230. So people becareful with this. Do not believe all the facts in the article.

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 

      6 years ago

      Hello Krissy ~ enlightening hub about the properties of fenugreek herb. I'm wondering about the unique smell of maple syrup and the use of fenugreek in making maple syrup. I have never heard of that in the United States or from the syrup in Canada. The seeds are popular in many cultural dishes. Blessings, Debby


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