Fenugreek (also known as Greek Hay and Fenigreek), is an herb that is commonly found growing in the Mediterranean region of the world. While the Fenugreek seeds and leaves are primarily used as a culinary spice, it is also used to treat a variety of health problems in Egypt, Greece, Italy, and South Asia. As a supplement, Fenugreek seeds are used as a treatment for diabetes and high cholesterol. This herb has been used for centuries as a cooking spice in Europe and remains a popular ingredient in pickles, curry powders, and spice mixtures in India and Asia. In folk medicine, it has been used in the treatment of boils, cellulitis, and tuberculosis. It was a key ingredient in a 19th century patent medicine for dysmenorrheal and postmenopausal symptoms, Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound; it also has been recommended for the promotion of lactation. Fenugreek seeds have been used as an oral insulin substitute, and seed extracts have been reported to lower blood glucose levels.
In India and China it has also been used to treat arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, improve digestion, maintain a healthy metabolism, increase libido and male potency, cure skin problems (wounds, rashes and boils), treat sore throat, and cure acid reflux. Fenugreek also has a long history of use for the treatment of reproductive disorders, to induce labor, to treat hormonal disorders, to help with breast enlargement, and to reduce menstrual pain. Recent studies have shown that Fenugreek helps lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels, and may be an effective treatment for both type 1 and 2 diabetes. It is also being studied for its cardiovascular benefits.
- It can lower blood sugar after eating. It may also raise “good” HDL cholesterol and lower unhealthy triglycerides.
- Fenugreek can help with acid reflux. Because it’s high in fiber, fenugreek may help treat or prevent Acid Reflux.
- Uses of fenugreek in diabetes and cholesterol lowering, people have used 5 g/day of seeds or 1 g of a hydroalcoholic extract. Some people take 10 to 15 grams daily for diabetes also.
- As a skin treatment, people use it for swelling, rashes, and wounds.
Fenugreek Side Effects
- Possible side effects of fenugreek when taken by mouth include gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
- It can cause irritation when applied to the skin.
- Given its historical use for inducing childbirth, women should use caution when taking fenugreek during pregnancy.
- The effects of anticoagulant drugs such as warfarin may be potentiated. Patients taking anticoagulants should consult their health care provider before taking fenugreek