Last update: April 10, 2019

Fenugreek

Very Low Risk for breastfeeding


Safe. Compatible.
Not risky for breastfeeding or infant.

The seeds of this leguminous plant are used.

Content: carbohydrates, proteins, saponins, vitamins, minerals . 

Assigned properties: appetite stimulant, lowering of lipemia and glycemic (Gong 2016).
Indications according to Commission E of the German Ministry of Health: Anorexia, Atopic Dermatitis.



Widely used as a galactogogue in many cultures around the world (Ayers 2000, Winterfeld 2012, Sim 2013, The Royal Women's .. 2013, Bazzano 2016).



Case-control studies looking for evidence on the increment of milk production associated to the use of fenugreek are few (Turkyılmaz 2011, Ghasemi 2015), along with a variety of methodological deficiencies.
Other studies have failed to find such an effect with the use of fenugreek (Abdou 2018, Reeder 2011, Damanik 2006).

Studies with an appropriate design are needed to provide high quality evidence to make clinical recommendations on its use (ABM 2018, Forinash 2012, Zapantis 2012, Committee LM AEP 2012, Mortel 2013, Bazzano 2016)



Two works of 2018 provide better evidence of its effect as a galactogogue:
- A randomized, double-blind trial demonstrates that a mixture of fenugreek, ginger and turmeric increases milk production (50% at 2 weeks and 100% at 4 weeks) in mothers with exclusive breastfeeding at the postpartum month (Bumrungpert 2018) .
- A meta-analysis of 4 randomized trials (Sakka 2014, Reeder 2011, Turkyilmaz 2011 and Damanik 2006) shows an increase in milk production of fenugreek versus placebo, although less than Coleus amboinicus (torbangun, an oriental soup) and palm dates, although there were no differences after 14 days (Khan 2018).

A higher antioxidant effect in the breastmilk of women who have consumed mixed infusions containing this or other herbs has not been shown (Kavurt 2013).



Given the wide spread use and lack of toxicity of this herb, a moderate consumption would be compatible with breastfeeding, yet high doses may produce hypoglycemia (EMA 2011, Gong 2016) and, because of the odor appearing in the urine of the infant, a lab test may be required to make a differential diagnosis with maple syrup disease of the newborn (Sewell 1999, Korman 2001).

Avoid the use of a galactogogue without a sanitary control.



Best galactagogue results are achieved through on-demand breastfeeding along with an adequate technique in a mother who is able to maintain self-confidence (ABM 2011, Mannion 2012).

Precautions when taking plant preparations:
1. Ensure that they are from a reliable source: poisoning has occurred due to confusing one plant with another with toxic properties, as well as poisoning from heavy metals extracted from the ground and food poisoning due to contamination with bacteria or fungi.
2. Do not take in large amounts; follow recommendations from professional experts in phytotherapy. "Natural" products are not always good in any quantity: plants contain active substances from which much of our traditional pharmacopoeia has been obtained and can result in poisoning or act as endocrine disruptors if taken in excessive amounts or time periods.

Alternatives

Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM´s pediatricians and pharmacists, and are based on updated scientific publications.
It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it.

Jose Maria Paricio, Founder & President of APILAM/e-Lactancia

Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.

José María Paricio, founder of e-lactancia.

Other names

Fenugreek is also known as


Fenugreek in other languages or writings:

Tradenames

Main tradenames from several countries containing Fenugreek in its composition:

References

  1. Bumrungpert A, Somboonpanyakul P, Pavadhgul P, Thaninthranon S. Effects of Fenugreek, Ginger, and Turmeric Supplementation on Human Milk Volume and Nutrient Content in Breastfeeding Mothers: A Randomized Double-Blind Controlled Trial. Breastfeed Med. 2018 Nov 9. Abstract
  2. Khan TM, Wu DB, Dolzhenko AV. Effectiveness of fenugreek as a galactagogue: A network meta-analysis. Phytother Res. 2018 Mar;32(3):402-412. Abstract
  3. Abdou RM, Fathey M. Evaluation of early postpartum fenugreek supplementation on expressed breast milk volume and prolactin levels variation. Gaz Egypt Paediatr Assoc. 2018;66:57-60. Full text (in our servers)
  4. ABM: Brodribb W. ABM Clinical Protocol #9: Use of Galactogogues in Initiating or Augmenting Maternal Milk Production, Second Revision 2018. Breastfeed Med. 2018 Jun;13(5):307-314 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  5. Gong J, Fang K, Dong H, Wang D, Hu M, Lu F. Effect of fenugreek on hyperglycaemia and hyperlipidemia in diabetes and prediabetes: A meta-analysis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2016 Abstract
  6. Bazzano AN, Littrell L, Brandt A, Thibeau S, Thriemer K, Theall KP. Health provider experiences with galactagogues to support breastfeeding: a cross-sectional survey. J Multidiscip Healthc. 2016 Abstract
  7. Bazzano AN, Hofer R, Thibeau S, Gillispie V, Jacobs M, Theall KP. A Review of Herbal and Pharmaceutical Galactagogues for Breast-Feeding. Ochsner J. 2016 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  8. Ghasemi V, Kheirkhah M, Vahedi M. The Effect of Herbal Tea Containing Fenugreek Seed on the Signs of Breast Milk Sufficiency in Iranian Girl Infants. Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2015 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  9. Powers CN, Setzer WN. A molecular docking study of phytochemical estrogen mimics from dietary herbal supplements. In Silico Pharmacol. 2015 Mar 22;3:4. Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  10. El Sakka A, Salama M, Salama K. The effect of fenugreek herbal tea and palm dates on breast milk production and infant weight. J Pediatr Sci. 2014;6:e202 Full text (in our servers)
  11. Mortel M, Mehta SD. Systematic review of the efficacy of herbal galactogogues. J Hum Lact. 2013 Abstract
  12. Sim TF, Sherriff J, Hattingh HL, Parsons R, Tee LB. The use of herbal medicines during breastfeeding: a population-based survey in Western Australia. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  13. Kavurt S, Bas AY, Aydemir O, Yucel H, Isikoglu S, Demirel N. The effect of galactagogue herbal tea on oxidant and anti-oxidant status of human milk. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2013 Abstract
  14. The Royal Women’s Hospital Victoria Australia. Herbal and Traditional Medicines in Breasfeeding. Fact Sheet. 2013 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  15. Sachs HC; Committee On Drugs. The transfer of drugs and therapeutics into human breast milk: an update on selected topics. Pediatrics. 2013 Sep;132(3):e796-809. Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  16. Rowe H, Baker T, Hale TW. Maternal medication, drug use, and breastfeeding. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2013 Feb;60(1):275-94. Abstract
  17. Mannion C, Mansell D. Breastfeeding self-efficacy and the use of prescription medication: a pilot study. Obstet Gynecol Int. 2012;2012:562704. Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  18. Comité de Lactancia Materna AEP. Preguntas frecuentes sobre lactancia materna. Folleto. 2012 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  19. Winterfeld U, Meyer Y, Panchaud A, Einarson A. Management of deficient lactation in Switzerland and Canada: a survey of midwives' current practices. Breastfeed Med. 2012 Aug;7:317-8. Abstract
  20. Zapantis A, Steinberg JG, Schilit L. Use of herbals as galactagogues. J Pharm Pract. 2012 Abstract
  21. Forinash AB, Yancey AM, Barnes KN, Myles TD. The use of galactogogues in the breastfeeding mother. Ann Pharmacother. 2012 Oct;46(10):1392-404. Abstract
  22. ABM. Comité de Protocolos de la Academia Médica de Lactancia Materna. ABM Protocolo Clínico #9: Uso de Galactogogos para Iniciar o aumentar la tasa de secreción de Leche Materna. Breastfeed Med. 2011 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  23. Muresan M. Successful relactation--a case history. Breastfeed Med. 2011 Abstract
  24. EMA. Community herbal monograph on Trigonella foenum-graecum L., semen. 2011 Full text (in our servers)
  25. ABM. Academy Of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee. ABM Clinical Protocol #9: Use of galactogogues in initiating or augmenting the rate of maternal milk secretion (First Revision January 2011). Breastfeed Med. 2011 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  26. Turkyılmaz C, Onal E, Hirfanoglu IM, Turan O, Koç E, Ergenekon E, Atalay Y. The effect of galactagogue herbal tea on breast milk production and short-term catch-up of birth weight in the first week of life. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Abstract
  27. Reeder C, Legrand A, O'Conner-Von S. The effect of fenugreek on milk production and prolactin levels in mothers of premature infants. J Hum Lact. 2011;27(1):74. Abstract.
  28. Amir LH, Pirotta MV, Raval M. Breastfeeding--evidence based guidelines for the use of medicines. Aust Fam Physician. 2011 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  29. Zuppa AA, Sindico P, Orchi C, Carducci C, Cardiello V, Romagnoli C. Safety and efficacy of galactogogues: substances that induce, maintain and increase breast milk production. J Pharm Pharm Sci. 2010;13(2):162-74. Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  30. Abdulrazzaq YM, Al Kendi A, Nagelkerke N. Soothing methods used to calm a baby in an Arab country. Acta Paediatr. 2009 Abstract
  31. WHO. World Health Organization. Geneva. WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants. Volume 3. p 338-348. WHO monographs. 2007 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  32. Bryant CA. Nursing the adopted infant. J Am Board Fam Med. 2006 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  33. Damanik R, Wahlqvist ML, Wattanapenpaiboon N. Lactagogue effects of Torbangun, a Bataknese traditional cuisine. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2006 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  34. Gabay MP. Galactogogues: medications that induce lactation. J Hum Lact. 2002 Aug;18(3):274-9. Abstract
  35. Korman SH, Cohen E, Preminger A. Pseudo-maple syrup urine disease due to maternal prenatal ingestion of fenugreek. J Paediatr Child Health. 2001 Abstract
  36. Ayers JF. The use of alternative therapies in the support of breastfeeding. J Hum Lact. 2000 Abstract
  37. Sewell AC, Mosandl A, Böhles H. False diagnosis of maple syrup urine disease owing to ingestion of herbal tea. N Engl J Med. 1999 Abstract

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