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Herbal Studies: Fenugreek

small brown fenugreek seeds in wooden bowl next to clover shaped fenugreek leaves

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is a galactagogues plant that measures around 2–3 feet tall. When growing in the wild it has green leaves, small white flowers, and pods that contain golden-brown seeds. Fenugreek is native to Asia and the Mediterranean. It is said that working with fenugreek can help ground lofty or "head in the clouds" type energy.

Fenugreek offers a substantial amount of health benefits! Known for providing fiber, protein, and carbohydrates this plant has also been found to support skin health, blood sugar control, reduce inflammation, and increase production of human milk. The word “galactagogues” comes from the Greek “galacta,” meaning milk. That indicates that this plant has knowledge to share when it comes to producing milk. In my personal experience working with fenugreek was a blessing when I began to pump after the birth of my second child. I enjoyed a fenugreek supplement as well as a tea blend that contained fenugreek. It was helpful to provide a measurable boost in milk production but imagine my surprise when I learned that fenugreek tastes like maple syrup and causes urine to smell the same!

Multiple studies have reviewed the impact of fenugreek on a parent's milk production and found that when comparing a group of 25 lactating parents who took a super-mix of fenugreek, ginger, and turmeric with 25 lactating parents who took a placebo those who took the super-mix had a 49% increase in milk volume after two weeks of use and a 103% increase after four weeks of use. This indicates that continually working with this plant increases its support of your overall health and milk production after time.

One tablespoon of whole fenugreek seeds contains 35 calories and several nutrients such as fiber, protein, iron, and magnesium. Due to its nutritional content and previously mentioned health benefits folks may benefit from occasionally adding fenugreek to their meals or teas. However if you are using fenugreek for a specific purpose a more concentrated amount may be required. Consuming 2 to 3 capsules (580 to 610 milligrams per capsule) of fenugreek three or four times per day is not uncommon for targeted results while others prefer 3-4 cups per day of fenugreek tea.

Considering adding fenugreek to your diet? Great news! Fenugreek has been found to be safe for consumption with very low risk of side effects. Those with sensitivities to peanuts may find fenugreek irritating which can lead to runny nose, upset stomach, or diarrhea. There is also some evidence that fenugreek reduces blood glucose levels, so folks who have diabetes may need to adjust their insulin dosage. Always check with your provider or trusted herbalist before taking fenugreek if you are taking medications such as blood thinners or diabetes related medications to determine your level of risk.


Sarah Foster is a Holistic Wellness Educator and Full Spectrum Doula in Altamonte Spring, FL that provides in person and virtual whole person wellness education along with a full spectrum of support for all birthing outcomes. If you are interested in learning how a FSD can support your pregnancy release contact me today.

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