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What is Fenugreek Extract?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2016
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Fenugreek extract comes from a flowering herb that comes native from Europe and certain parts of Asia. The seeds are traditionally used in curry, and to make an extract that is used to help promote healthy lactation in nursing women. This can come in the form of capsules, tinctures, or tea. It has also been used to cure common issues such as gastrointestinal upset, skin wounds, and menstrual symptoms.

Although scientists have not conducted many studies to verify or disprove the use of fenugreek extract for lactation, consultants and alternative health practitioners have recommended it since Biblical times. It is thought to work by raising the body’s levels of prolactin, or the hormone which stimulates the breasts to make milk. Many regimens require the use of fenugreek combined with other known galactogogues, or substances which promote milk production, for maximum results.

There are some natural health practitioners who also recommend fenugreek extract to help alleviate symptoms of indigestion and upset stomach. Some patients have found this beneficial; however, these very symptoms can also come as side-effects from taking the supplement. It is also used externally in some instances to promote the healing of wounds on the skin. Additionally, there are some preliminary studies which suggest that fenugreek may help lower high cholesterol.

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Aside from stomach upset like indigestion and diarrhea, fenugreek extract should not be taken by pregnant women. This is because it is suggested by some studies that fenugreek may promote estrogen production, and this could lead to premature uterine contractions in women who are not full term. Fenugreek extract should also not be taken by those with anemia unless under the supervision of a doctor. The herb has been shown to block iron absorption by the body, and could worsen a preexisting deficiency.

Fenugreek extract can be found in most health food stores or online. Lactation consultants are commonly known to recommend its use, and may advise on a particular brand or formulation. The herb is commonly added to breastfeeding promoting mixtures, such as many common lactation teas.

For most individuals fenugreek extract is considered safe for consumption and usually does not cause drug interactions. That said, there is always the slight chance of an allergic reaction or drug interference, especially since natural remedies are not always thoroughly tested. If any indications of a reaction occur, patients are advised to stop taking the supplement and consult a health care professional.

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MissDaphne
Post 2

@dfoster85 - A really good friend of mine had this problem and we discussed it ad nauseum! She did find that taking fenugreek had benefits for her.

Relax! Your baby is going to be just fine. She is probably getting more milk than you're able to pump, for one thing. For another, if you can't pump enough milk, she'll have to drink formula while you're at work, and it won't be the end of the world! My friend did eventually have to supplement with formula because she simply couldn't pump enough, and her baby is nine months old and still nurses at least at night. Other babies will refuse formula, but will just nurse a lot at night so they

still get enough to eat.

You don't say if you've tried a hospital-grade pump, but that also made a difference for my friend (for a while), and so did having a hands-free pumping bra so she could really relax and do other things. Good luck!

dfoster85
Post 1

Does fenugreek tea really work to increase your breastmilk supply? Or is it just one of those things that they say to do because they don't want to admit nothing will help?!

My lactation consultant recommended fenugreek, but I don't know anyone who's taken it. I'm getting ready to go back to work and I can't seem to pump more than an ounce or two at a time! I don't know what my baby's going to eat!

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