Tell me about...
Fenugreek (Hu Lu Ba)
What is fenugreek? What is it used
Fenugreek is a plant that belongs to the legume family. Originally
grown in southeastern Europe and western Asia, fenugreek is
now found in many parts of the world, including Africa and
the United States. Fenugreek seeds contain the plants
most potent medicinal properties and are often used in herbal
Historically, fenugreek was used to treat wounds, abscesses,
arthritis and digestive problems. Traditional Chinese herbalists
used it for kidney problems and reproductive conditions.
Fenugreek seeds are rich in dietary fiber, which has led
some researchers to suggest they can lower blood sugar levels
in patients with diabetes. Substances called saponins in fenugreek
have been shown to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels
in the blood, according to some controlled studies. Generally,
fenugreek does not lower HDL, or "good," cholesterol
How much fenugreek should I take?
The German Commission E recommends a daily intake of six
grams of fenugreek. To treat diabetes or lower cholesterol,
some practitioners recommend taking 5-30 grams with each meal,
or 15-90 grams all at once with one meal.
What forms of fenugreek are available?
Fenugreek is available in bulk seed form. However, because
the seeds have a bitter taste, many patients prefer taking
debitterized seeds, capsules or tinctures.
What can happen if I take too much
fenugreek? Are there any interactions I should be aware of?
What precautions should I take?
Use of more than 100 grams of fenugreek seeds daily can cause
intestinal distress and nausea. In addition, fenugreek causes
uterine contractions, which means that it should not be used
by pregnant women. Children under age two should also not
Fenugrek may react adversely with a variety of medications,
including glipizide: heparin; insulin; ticlopidine; and warfarin.
Do not take warfarin if you are taking any of these medications.
As always, consult with a health care provider before taking
fenugreek or any other dietary supplement.
More You Know About Minerals
More You Know About Nutrition
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, p. 130.
Bordia A, Verma SK, Srivastava
KC. Effect of ginger (zingiber officinale rocs.) and
fenugreek (trigonella foenumgraecum L) on blood lipids,
blood sugar, and platelet aggregation in patients with coronary
artery disease. Prostagland Leukotrienes Essential Fatty
Raghuram TC, Sharma RD, Sivakumar B, Sahay BK.
Effect of fenugreek seeds on intravenous glucose disposition
in non-insulin dependent diabetic patients. Phytother Res
Sauvaire Y, Ribes G, Baccou JC, Loubatieres-Mariani
MM. Implication of steroid saponins and sapogenins in the
hypocholesterolemic effect of fenugreek. Lipids 1991;26:1917.
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;44:3016.