Fenugreek is in the family Leguminosae (subfamily Papilionaceae). This is a very large and diverse family of flowering plants and is commonly known as the legume, pea or bean family. A symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria is common within this family.
Habitat & Cultivation:
Fenugreek is an annual herb that is native to the Mediterranean region, Ukraine, India, China and Northern Africa. It grows well in open areas/semi-arid plains. Today, fenugreek is widely cultivated in many areas with most of the cultivated commercial products in the US sourced primarily from Morocco, Turkey, India and China. (American Botanical Council, 2000)
Fenugreek is the most commonly used galactagogue around the world. It stimulates milk production through phytoestrogens and diosgenin activity and increases glandular output (sweat and mammary).
Internal use for loss of appetite/anorexia, indigestion, gastritis, and topically for boils, muscle pain, inflamed lymph nodes, gout, wounds, eczema, chronic cough, allergies, influenza, bronchitis, toothache, sciatica, arthritis.
May cause vaginal bleeding and abortion - do not use in pregnancy on someone with high Pitta tendencies
According to Mills & Bone (2005), fenugreek is considered pregnancy category B3, which indicates that there is no evidence of harmful effects on fetuses with “limited use,” but that there is some evidence of harm in animal studies. Humphrey and Romm (2010) claims that it should not be taken during pregnancy in “medicinal” amounts, and the AHPA (2013) state that it is considered to be in safety class 2b, and is not to be used in pregnancy due to its abortifacient properties.
That said, Mills & Bone (2005) note that this may be a largely theoretical concern, or at least one more likely to be relevant at very high (excessive) doses, but also cite historical associations between fenugreek and inducing abortion. (Mills & Bone, 2005)
It is however, considered safe during lactation. Mills & Bone (2005) assign it lactation category C, though recommend caution if thyroid levels are low, which can be a postpartum concern.”
I have a love/hate relationship with fenugreek. It reminds me of my last child. I used a lot of fenugreek to try and boost my milk supply so now I'm triggered with the smell and taste of the herb. I used fenugreek as a tea, it was really sweet and aromatic like I remembered. I'm not currently lactating at the moment so I didn't feel any effects from the properties. When I was breastfeeding I used the tincture and it was very effective in helping regain my milk supply.
American Botanical Council. (2000). Fenugreek seed. Accessed online at .
Mills, S. & Bone, K. (2005). The essential guide to herbal safety. London, England: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone
Wani, S. A., & Kumar, P. (2016). Fenugreek: A review on its nutraceutical properties and utilization in various food products. Journal of the Saudi Society of Agricultural Sciences. doi:10.1016/j.jssas.2016.01.007
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)