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Veterinarian Reviewed on June 15, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)


Fenugreek is a common ingredient in preparing curry dishes. The plant is used as a medicinal herb and as a spice as well. Fenugreek is cultivated in many parts of the world. This plant may look similar to the wild clover and have had many names owing to its appearance like rams horn clover, bockhornsklover in Swedish and Bockshronklee in German.

History and Origin

The name Fenugreek comes from the word ‘foenum-graceum’ which is Latin for ‘Greek hay’. Fenugreek is mostly used in cooking, especially in Asian cuisines. This herb is also popular in the treatment of gastrointestinal illnesses as well as increasing milk supply in lactating mothers. The seed is mainly used in herbal preparations but the leaves and stems may also be used in decoctions, poultices, teas as well as many other uses.

Ancient Uses

Fenugreek is mostly used as a spice for preparing curry and cooking curry dishes. The Fenugreek seeds are used in India as a main ingredient to prepare foods like pickles, pastes and flavorful curry powder. The use of Fenugreek as a medicinal herb was first seen in India where they consume a lot of Fenugreek as a food ingredient. A low incidence of arthritis was seen in these cultures and the herb is also taken as a tea to relieve discomforts of arthritis like pain and inflammation.

Modern Uses

Fenugreek in modern times is also used in the treatment of the pain and discomfort of arthritis. This herb has been the subject of many studies regarding its positive uses in lactation; Fenugreek seeds significantly increases milk production in mothers which is generally beneficial in breastfeeding babies and young children.
Fenugreek is also used to cure many gastrointestinal illnesses such as stomach pain, bloating, stomach upset, constipation and relieving gastric irritation. It is also used as a gargle to relieve sore throats.

Fenugreek is also an antiseptic and an astringent that can help treat wounds and boils when used as a poultice or as an external dressing. There are several supplements in the market today using Fenugreek as an active herbal ingredient. Make sure that you are buying from reputable dealers to get the purest Fenugreek supplements there is.

Side Effects

The use of Fenugreek may cause stomach upset especially when you over-use this herbal supplement. Therefore, it is important to consult your doctor or herbalist regarding the correct use and dosage of Fenugreek for your particular illness. It is also important to remember that Fenugreek has a high fiber content that can alter or cause an adverse effect with other medications you may be taking. Consider using Fenugreek 2 hours after taking your regular medication to avoid this.

Although there are significant studies to prove the positive effect of Fenugreek in lactation, it is still not recommended for pregnant women. Women who breastfeed and would like to use Fenugreek must first consult their doctor regarding safety measures, dosage and any adverse reactions before proceeding.

Missed doses for Fenugreek and doubling your dose after could lead to serious side effects. It is best to resume your usual dose schedule instead if you do skimp a dose of Fenugreek.

Read also: Valerian

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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