What are the Most Common Fenugreek Side Effects?

Henry Gaudet
Henry Gaudet
Fenugreek is a spice used in cooking and a dietary supplement.
Fenugreek is a spice used in cooking and a dietary supplement.

Fenugreek has been used for centuries as a dietary supplement and herbal remedy, but the medicinal uses of the herb are not entirely free of risk. Reports of fenugreek side effects range from minor gastrointestinal discomfort or skin iritation to serious conditions such as internal bleeding. When present, the side effects of fenugreek usually are mild and include symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, skin irritation and a maple syrup smell in sweat and urine.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid fenugreek.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid fenugreek.

Research into potential fenugreek side effects is limited, but as a food ingredient, fenugreek generally is considered safe to use. Even when used as a supplement, side effects are rare at the recommended dosage. Fenugreek side effects most often occur when a dose of more than 100 grams is taken daily.

Iron absorption might be hampered by fenugreek. For this reason, the supplement is not recommended for people with anemia. The supplement also might interfere with thyroid hormone levels and is not recommended for those who are undergoing treatment for a thyroid condition.

Some individuals may experience hives as part of an allergic reaction to fenugreek.
Some individuals may experience hives as part of an allergic reaction to fenugreek.

At high doses, fenugreek can cause internal bleeding. Symptoms such as black tarry stools, bright red blood in the stool, blood in vomit, weakness or numbness in a limb, blurred vision, difficulty speaking or severe headaches might be signs of internal bleeding. Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms should discontinue the use of the supplement and seek immediate medical attention.

Diarrhea is one possible side effect of taking fenugreek.
Diarrhea is one possible side effect of taking fenugreek.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid fenugreek supplements as well. Although the fenugreek side effects relating to the unborn and newborn children require further study, fenugreek can stimulate uterine contractions and could trigger early labor or a miscarriage. It generally is recommended that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding consult a doctor before taking any dietary supplement.

Side effects of fenugreek may include heartburn.
Side effects of fenugreek may include heartburn.

Allergic reactions are possible with any supplement, and some people might react to fenugreek. Symptoms such as a rash, hives or itching might indicate an allergy. Swelling is a potentially dangerous symptom, especially if the throat swells and the airway is obstructed. If these symptoms are observed, immediate medical attention is required.

As a dietary supplement and herbal remedy, fenugreek has been used to treat conditions such as indigestion, fever, respiratory and kidney disorders, arthritis, high cholesterol, diabetes and minor skin conditions and injuries. Fenugreek also has been used to increase milk production for breastfeeding mothers. Some studies into the effects of fenugreek have been promising, but dietary supplements do not undergo the testing that is required for medicines, and fenugreek has not been proved to be effective for any medical application.

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Discussion Comments

anon335537

Can these seeds help regulate the menstrual cycle?

anon302276

I take fenugreek three times a day to keep my milk in. I have not noticed any of these side effects. I do notice that my milk supply is awesome this time and I don't have to worry about it like I did with my previous kids.

discographer

Side effects of fenugreek seem like a lot considering that it's a completely natural herb.

My sister had a runny stool / diarrhea problem when she was taking fenugreek. She couldn't take it long because she was getting dehydrated.

I took fenugreek for milk and I didn't have any of the digestive problems, but I felt like it made my baby gassy. She was fussy after feeding on the days I took fenugreek. I think it made her gas worse and she had a harder time falling asleep.

I've heard that fenugreek can also cause spotting in women, similar to menstrual spotting except that you're not getting your period. I'm lucky because I didn't experience any of these. I guess different people tolerate it differently.

turquoise

@burcinc-- Yea, I took fengugreek when I was breastfeeding my son. I had increased appetite and stomach flu like symptoms throughout. Unfortunately, it didn't get better with time.

The worst part I think was the maple syrup like scent. I smelled like IHOP! My husband hated it but I wanted to breastfeed as long as possible and I felt like fenugreek helped. I did take some breaks in between though. I would take it for a couple of weeks and then not take it for a week. I think that was good, it gave me relief from the side effects for a while.

burcinc

I'm breastfeeding and have started taking fenugreek because I heard from a lot of moms that it increases lactation. I think it's working, I feel a lot more hungry since taking fenugreek and eating more which is probably how more milk is produced.

But I am having some side effects too, nothing major but gas, diarrhea and sometimes I get a headache. I'm taking less than the recommended fenugreek dosage, so I don't think I'm overdoing it. It's only been three weeks though, I'm hoping the side effects get better with time.

Has anyone else taken fenugreek for lactation? Did the side effects go away or become less over time?

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    • Fenugreek is a spice used in cooking and a dietary supplement.
      Fenugreek is a spice used in cooking and a dietary supplement.
    • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid fenugreek.
      Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid fenugreek.
    • Some individuals may experience hives as part of an allergic reaction to fenugreek.
      Some individuals may experience hives as part of an allergic reaction to fenugreek.
    • Diarrhea is one possible side effect of taking fenugreek.
      Diarrhea is one possible side effect of taking fenugreek.
    • Side effects of fenugreek may include heartburn.
      Side effects of fenugreek may include heartburn.
    • Fenugreek can make sweat and urine smell like maple syrup.
      Fenugreek can make sweat and urine smell like maple syrup.