Traditionally, fenugreek has been used to stimulate labor. Since no studies have been conducted on fenugreek and pregnancy, however, there is no proof that it is indeed effective for this use. If fenugreek stimulates uterine contractions, it could cause preterm labor or miscarriages if taken earlier in pregnancy. Due to this potential risk, notify your healthcare provider if you are taking fenugreek and pregnancy occurs.
Fenugreek and Pregnancy: An Overview
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is an herbal remedy that is sometimes used by natural medicine providers to stimulate labor. However, it is not known if fenugreek is safe for use during pregnancy.
Is Fenugreek Safe During Pregnancy?
Traditionally, fenugreek has been used to stimulate labor. However, this does not mean that it is safe or effective for such use, since it has never been studied for such purposes. For instance, think about the many strange ways women try to induce labor (such as eating kiwi, eating spicy foods, or taking bumpy car rides). There is no real way to know if these methods are effective, even if they work. It could very easily just be coincidence.
Even though there is no research to suggest that fenugreek works for stimulating labor, it is a good idea to avoid taking it unless you are full-term (37 weeks pregnant or beyond). If fenugreek does happen to be effective for stimulating uterine contractions, which is currently unknown, it could cause preterm labor or miscarriages if taken earlier in pregnancy. Also, there have been reports of body or urine odor smelling like maple syrup in infants after fenugreek was used for labor stimulation (the herb contains a compound that smells like maple syrup). Sometimes, this is mistaken by medical providers as a rare but serious condition known as maple syrup disease.
Pregnancy is not a time to be experimenting with herbs or medications. It is best to stick with products that are known to be safe for pregnant women. As an herb that has been studied very little, fenugreek is not one of these products.
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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