Fenugreek contains sotolon, trigonelline, and 4-hydroxyisoleucine, compounds that are thought to be the active components of it. 4-hydroxyisoleucine may stimulate the secretion of insulin, which is why fenugreek may theoretically lower blood sugar. The seeds also contain fiber and pectin, a complex carbohydrate, both of which may slow down the digestive tract, which can also help lower blood sugar.
Fenugreek may also contain "blood-thinning" compounds known as coumarins, but it is not known if these compounds are present in high enough quantities to actually make a difference in humans. Fenugreek may also stimulate the uterus, heart, and intestines.
It is not known how (or even if) fenugreek might work to stimulate breast milk production.
Fenugreek Use in Children
Fenugreek is probably safe for children when consumed in small amounts, such as in some foods. It is not known if it is safe in higher amounts. There has been one case of loss of consciousness in a child who consumed fenugreek tea.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed January 16, 2008.
National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Herbs at a glance: Fenugreek (March 2007). NCCAM Web site. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/fenugreek/. Accessed January 16, 2008.
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