Parts Used & Where Grown
Although originally from southeastern Europe and western Asia, fenugreek grows today in many parts of the world, including India, northern Africa, and the United States. The seeds of fenugreek are used medicinally.
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3 StarsReliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 StarsContradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 StarFor an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
10 to 30 grams two to three times per day
Fenugreek seed powder has been found to substantially lower blood levels of total and LDL-cholesterol.
(Trigonella foenum-graecum) seeds contain soluble fiber as well as compounds known as steroidal saponins that inhibit cholesterol production by the liver and accelerate cholesterol breakdown. A meta-analysis that included findings from 12 placebo-controlled trials found fenugreek lowered total and LDL-cholesterol levels, while another meta-analysis that included 12 randomized controlled trials found fenugreek not only reduced total and LDL-cholesterol but also raised HDL-cholesterol levels. In one controlled trial, 114 newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic patients were randomly assigned to treatment with 25 grams (almost two tablespoons) of fenugreek seed powder twice daily or no treatment for one month. Total cholesterol levels fell 13.6% and LDL-cholesterol levels dropped 23.4% in those receiving fenugreek but were unchanged in the no-treatment group.
Type 2 Diabetes
5 grams or more daily
Fenugreek seeds appears to lower blood glucose levels by slowing down carbohydrate digestion and absorption.
Fenugreek seeds have a long history of use in the treatment of diabetes, and some fenugreek constituents have demonstrated anti-diabetes actions such as reducing starch digestion and glucose absorption in the gut, improving insulin sensitivity, and increasing insulin secretion. In clinical research, 60 subjects with type 2 diabetes who took 10 grams per day of hot water-soaked fenugreek seeds for six months had better blood glucose control than matched patients who received no fenugreek. Taking 10 grams per day of fenugreek seeds was reported to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in people with pre-diabetes in another controlled study. A placebo-controlled trial found 500 mg of fenugreek extract containing high amounts of constituents called furostanolic saponins improved blood glucose control and reduced medication need in people with type 2 diabetes after 90 days. A meta-analysis that included eight randomized controlled trials noted that, despite the overall low quality of the studies, fenugreek, in doses of at least 5 grams per day, appears to improve blood glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes, and the effects are greater with higher doses. Doses of up to 100 grams per day of fenugreek were used in the studies.
100 grams seed daily or 25 to 50 grams defatted seed powder daily
Fenugreek has been shown to lower total and LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in people with high lipid levels in preliminary trials..
has been shown to lower total and LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in people with high lipid levels in preliminary trials. Bread made with 50 grams defatted fenugreek powder was used twice daily in the trial. Similar results have been seen at half that amount in people with diabetes and elevated blood levels of various lipids. A small randomized trial found similar results using 100 grams fenugreek seeds daily. One small clinical trial found that either 25 grams or 50 grams per day of defatted fenugreek seed powder were effective in reducing triglycerides over a 20-day period. Mild diarrhea and gas can accompany the first few days of fenugreek use, though it almost always fades as the person taking it adapts.
Type 1 Diabetes
3 tablespoons of fenugreek powder with each meal
Fenugreek seeds are high in soluble fiber, which helps lower blood sugar by slowing down carbohydrate digestion and absorption.
Fenugreek seeds are high in soluble fiber, which helps lower blood sugar by slowing down carbohydrate digestion and absorption. Fenugreek extract has also been shown to increase the number and function of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas and improve blood sugar control, lipid levels, and antioxidant capacity in animal models of type 1 diabetes. In a controlled study in people with type 1 diabetes, incorporating powdered fenugreek seed into lunch and dinner meals (50 grams per meal) for ten days improved several measures of blood sugar control compared to a similar ten-day diet without added fenugreek.
Refer to label instructions
Fenugreek is a mild bulk-forming laxative that’s best suited for long-term use in people with constipation.
The laxatives most frequently used world-wide come from plants. Herbal laxatives are either bulk-forming or stimulating.
Bulk-forming laxatives come from plants with a high fiber and mucilage content that expand when they come in contact with water; examples include psyllium, flaxseed, and . As the volume in the bowel increases, a reflex muscular contraction occurs, stimulating a bowel movement. These mild laxatives are best suited for long-term use in people with constipation.
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
A wide range of uses were found for fenugreek in ancient times. Medicinally it was used for the treatment of wounds, abscesses, arthritis, bronchitis, and digestive problems. Traditional Chinese herbalists used it for kidney problems and conditions affecting the male reproductive tract.1 Fenugreek was, and remains, a food and a spice commonly eaten in many parts of the world.
How It Works
How It Works
Fenugreek seeds contain alkaloids (mainly trigonelline) and protein high in lysine and L-tryptophan. Its steroidal saponins (diosgenin, yamogenin, tigogenin, and neotigogenin) and mucilaginous fiber are thought to account for many of the beneficial effects of fenugreek. The steroidal saponins are thought to inhibit cholesterol absorption and synthesis,2 while the fiber may help lower blood sugar levels.3 One human study found that fenugreek can help lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels in people with moderate atherosclerosis and non-insulin-dependent (type 2) diabetes.4 Preliminary and double-blind trials have found that fenugreek helps improve blood sugar control in patients with insulin-dependent (type 1) and non-insulin-dependent (type 2) diabetes.5, 6, 7 Double-blind trials have shown that fenugreek lowers elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood,8, 9 This has also been found in a controlled clinical trial with diabetic patients with elevated cholesterol.10 Generally, fenugreek does not lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels.
How to Use It
Due to the somewhat bitter taste of fenugreek seeds, de-bitterized seeds or encapsulated products are preferred. The German Commission E monograph recommends a daily intake of 6 grams.11 The typical range of intake for diabetes or cholesterol-lowering is 5–30 grams with each meal or 15–90 grams all at once with one meal. As a tincture, 3–4 ml of fenugreek can be taken up to three times per day.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
Interactions with Medicines
Certain medicines interact with this supplement.
Replenish Depleted Nutrients
Reduce Side Effects
In a controlled study of patients with type 1 diabetes, fenugreek (100 grams per day for ten days) was reported to reduce blood sugar, urinary sugar excretion, serum cholesterol, and triglycerides, with no change in insulin levels. In a controlled study of people with type 2 diabetes, fenugreek (25 grams per day for 24 weeks) was reported to significantly reduce blood glucose levels. People using insulin should talk with their prescribing doctor before incorporating large amounts of fenugreek into their diet.
Potential Negative Interaction
In a randomized study of 15 patients with type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes, fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) (100 grams per day for ten days) was reported to reduce blood sugar, urinary sugar excretion, serum cholesterol, and triglycerides, with no change in insulin levels, compared with ten days of placebo. In a study of 60 people with type 2 diabetes, fenugreek (25 grams per day for 24 weeks) was reported to significantly reduce blood glucose levels. People using glipizide should talk with their doctor before making any therapy changes.
Although there are no specific studies demonstrating interactions with anticoagulants, the following herbs contain coumarin-like substances that may interact with heparin and could conceivably cause bleeding. These herbs include dong quai, , horse chestnut, red clover, sweet clover, and sweet woodruff. People should consult a healthcare professional if they’re taking an anticoagulant and wish to use one of these herbs.
Use of more than 100 grams of fenugreek seeds daily can cause intestinal upset and nausea. Otherwise, fenugreek is extremely safe. Due to the potential uterine stimulating properties of fenugreek, which may cause miscarriages, fenugreek should not be used during pregnancy.12
1. Escot N. Fenugreek. ATOMS 1994/5;Summer:7-12.
2. Sauvaire Y, Ribes G, Baccou JC, Loubatieres-Mariani MM. Implication of steroid saponins and sapogenins in the hypocholesterolemic effect of fenugreek. Lipids 1991;26:191-7.
3. Ribes G, Sauvaire Y, Da Costa C, et al. Antidiabetic effects of subfractions from fenugreek seeds in diabetic dogs. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1986;182:159-66.
4. Bordia A, Verma SK, Srivastava KC. Effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc) and fenugreek (Trigonella foenumgraceum L) on blood lipids, blood sugar, and platelet aggregation in patients with coronary artery disease. Prostagland Leukotrienes Essential Fatty Acids 1997;56:379-84.
5. 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.
6. Madar Z, Abel R, Samish S, Arad J. Glucose-lowering effect of fenugreek in non-insulin dependent diabetics. Eur J Clin Nutr 1988;42:51-4.
7. Raghuram TC, Sharma RD, Sivakumar B, Sahay BK. Effect of fenugreek seeds on intravenous glucose disposition in non-insulin dependent diabetic patients. Phytother Res 1994;8:83-6.
8. Sharma RD, Raghuram TC, Dayasagar Rao V. Hypolipidaemic effect of fenugreek seeds. A clinical study. Phytother Res 1991;5:145-7.
9. Prasanna M. Hypolipidemic effect of fenugreek: A clinical study. Indian J Pharmacol 2000;32:34-6.
10. 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.
11. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 130.
12. Brinker F. Herb Contradictions and Drug Interactions. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Medical Publications, 1998, 70-1.
Last Review: 05-24-2015
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The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2023.