Fenugreek is widely grown in the Mediterranean
countries, Argentina, France, India, North Africa, and the United States. It is
used as a condiment, medicine, and dye. The plant produces white flowers in
early summer and develops into long, slender, yellow-brown pods that contain
the brown seeds of fenugreek.
‘The traditional kitchen spice, Fenugreek seeds contain an active ingredient called diosgenin that increase milk production in lactating mothers.’
Seeds As a Galactagogue
There are many
herbal supplements available that have been shown to be effective in increasing
milk production. Fenugreek seeds
are used as an herbal galactagogue - a substance that promotes lactation in humans. Mothers who are unable to meet their infants' breastfeeding needs may benefit from galactagogues. Fenugreek seed is one of the most commonly used galactagogues. It has active ingredients that have the ability to increase milk production for mothers.
researchers state that there is not enough evidence for the mechanism of fenugreek seeds to increase breast
milk supply in breastfeeding women; however it is
usually preferred over several prescription medications to increase breast milk
production. It is preconceived that a plant or herb is safer than a
pharmaceutical drug because it is natural. Fenugreek seeds are listed on the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration's GRAS list (Generally Recognized As Safe).
are a good source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, iron, calcium and
antioxidants such as beta-carotene. The active ingredient in fenugreek seeds
called diosgenin increases milk production in lactating mothers.
According to a
study published in February 2011, that examined 66
mothers in the early postpartum period found that the breast milk volume of the
mothers who received fenugreek tea was significantly higher than the placebo and
examined milk production in exclusively breastfeeding
women. Ten women kept diaries of their breast milk production for two weeks. The first week was the baseline milk
production. During the second week, three capsules of fenugreek seed powder
were given three times a day. This study used each participant as her control
in comparing breast milk production with and without the fenugreek seed
supplementation. Average breast milk volume for week 1 and week 2 were
compared; the average daily milk volume for week 1 was 207 ml compared to 464
for week 2.
breast milk production, fenugreek seeds can be taken in the form of a capsule,
or tea. However, researchers say that tea is weaker than the capsule form. The
dosage for taking fenugreek seeds a supplement is 2 to 3 capsules (3.5 - 7.3
grams) thrice a day or three teaspoons of fenugreek seed powder a day. In one
or two days, there will be an increase in breast milk production.
shown that smaller doses of fenugreek seeds 1 - 2.5 grams per day have not been
found to be effective in increasing milk supply. Fenugreek seeds can also be
added to many dishes, especially vegetables, and can be added to
parathas, pooris, and stuffed roti.
fenugreek can be discontinued after milk supply is increased, as long as a
mother can regularly breastfeed.
- The Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) has regarded fenugreek as safe for human consumption as a spice or
natural seasoning and as a plant extract but, should not be recommended for pregnant women.
- It is wise to consult a health
care provider before taking any herbal remedy for milk supply issues.
Fenugreek seeds may cause contractions or an allergic reaction. Thus, it
is advisable for pregnant women not to take fenugreek.
- Women who are allergic to peanuts
or soybeans should avoid fenugreek. Taking more than 100 grams of
fenugreek seeds a day may cause diarrhea and nausea in mother and rare
cases it can affect the baby as well.
- Some other side effects that may
occur when fenugreek seeds are taken in excess than the recommended dosage
are headaches, dizziness and stomach cramps.
- Fenugreek seeds can have effects such as lowering blood sugar levels, and may cause allergy in some those with a history of asthma.