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Is Fenugreek Safe?

Fenugreek is supposedly beneficial for many uses, but is fenugreek safe? Since the supplement contains compounds that can "thin" the blood, do not take it without checking with your healthcare provider if you have a bleeding disorder. Although fenugreek is claimed to be helpful for diabetes, it may increase the risk of low blood sugar when taken in combination with diabetes medications.

Is Fenugreek Safe? -- An Overview

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is an herbal supplement claimed to be beneficial for a number of uses. You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking fenugreek if you have:
  • Diabetes
  • A bleeding disorder
  • Any allergies, including allergies to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
You should also be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Fenugreek Warnings and Precautions

Warnings and precautions to be aware of concerning the safety of fenugreek include the following:
  • Fenugreek is a dietary supplement and is, therefore, not as closely regulated as prescription and non-prescription drugs. Also, it can be marketed without any proof that it is either safe or effective. Do not assume that just because it is sold in the United States that it is safe or effective. Also, look for a fenugreek product from a reputable manufacturer. Your pharmacist is a good resource for information about which manufacturers are most reputable.
  • The herb contains compounds that can "thin" the blood, although it is not clear if fenugreek contains enough of these compounds to cause a problem for most people. If you have a bleeding disorder, do not take fenugreek without checking first with your healthcare provider.
  • Fenugreek is claimed to be helpful for diabetes, but may increase the risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) when taken in combination with diabetes medications. If you take diabetes medications, do not use fenugreek without the supervision of your healthcare provider.
  • The herbal supplement can cause a body or urine odor that is similar to maple syrup. If this occurs in infants, some healthcare providers might mistake this side effect for a symptom of a serious disorder known as maple syrup urine disease. Make sure your child's healthcare provider knows if your child takes fenugreek or if you took it during late pregnancy.
  • Fenugreek can interact with some medications (see Fenugreek Drug Interactions).
  • It is not known if fenugreek is safe for use in pregnant or breastfeeding women (see Fenugreek and Pregnancy and Fenugreek and Breastfeeding).
  • People who are allergic to soybeans, peanuts, or green peas may also be allergic to fenugreek.
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