Fenugreek supplements are made from the seeds of the fenugreek plant, which grows mostly along the Mediterranean Sea but can also grow in warm climates like Morocco and Egypt. The seeds of this plant have a characteristic taste and smell, making fenugreek useful as a spice or as a sweetener in syrups. These seeds may also be crushed for use in fenugreek supplements, which are recommended as an herbal remedy for a variety of conditions.
Using fenugreek as a medicinal remedy dates back to the days of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Old texts suggest fenugreek was used to induce childbirth and to increase milk production in breast-feeding women. It was also prescribed to women to treat menopausal symptoms. Additionally, it was used as a spice not only for flavor but to also aid poor digestion.
Fenugreek supplements are still used in current times as an alternative medicine treatment. The most popular use is to increase milk production in women with poor lactation. Several studies have shown that this supplement can dramatically increase this process in women one to three days after consuming this herb.
Scientists have isolated several components of fenugreek that may be converted into milk producing hormones in the body. Although the ability of fenugreek supplements to increase milk production is mostly acknowledged by Western medicine, doctors are reluctant to suggest fenugreek supplements in lactating women. There have been no clinical trials to conclusively assess if there are undesirable side effects associated with supplementation of this herb.
Other conditions that may be helped by fenugreek supplements include high cholesterol, diabetes, and lack of libido in men and women. The effect of this supplement on diabetes has been the subject of a few medical studies containing a small number of patients. These studies appeared positive but were too small to make any strong statements regarding the effect of fenugreek on diabetes.
Fenugreek seeds contain a large amount of iron. For this reason, this herb is considered helpful in the treatment of iron-deficient anemia, the most common cause of anemia in women. It may also help treat respiratory problems, sinus infections, and may reduce fever. Finally, it may help increase appetite in people with digestive problems.
The side effects associated with consuming too much fenugreek include digestive disorders like nausea and diarrhea. Fenugreek supplements may also cause excessive sweating. An unusual side effect of too much fenugreek is that the sweat, urine, and women’s breast milk may begin to develop a sweet odor. This is due to the underlying sweetness of fenugreek seeds. Finally, because this supplement was anciently used to induce childbirth, pregnant women should avoid fenugreek supplements.