Herb of the Day: Fenugreek

Herb Of The Day Fenugreek
Fenugreek is a popular ingredient in many Indian and Mediterranean dishes.  However, breastfeeding Mamas know it best as the herb which helps with milk supply while leaving mama smelling like Maple Syrup!  This is perhaps the best-known herb for breastmilk production in spite of this bizarre side effect.  In celebration of National Breastfeeding month, we’re taking a closer look at this interesting herb.

Traditional Uses

  • Digestion
  • Nausea
  • Blood Sugar
  • PMS
  • Menopause
  • Breastmilk production
  • Menstrual Cramps
  • Aging
  • Aphrodisiac
  • PCOS
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas

The Plant

Fenugreek, Trigonella foenum-graecum, is a popular culinary herb grown primarily for the seeds themselves.  Many people use the leaves raw in salads as well.  Native to warm climates this plant will grow in light frost.   The seeds are soaked overnight prior to being planted in full sun.  In 2-7 days the seeds will have germinated and a small plant will appear.  After approximately 1 week the green can be harvested as needed.  In approximately 120 days the seeds will be ready to harvest.  Pods are harvested in the fall, dried and seeds are then extracted for use.

The Maple Syrup Smell

The strange maple syrup smell caused by fenugreek consumption is something many a breastfeeding Mama has laughed about.  What exactly is causing the smell?
First of all, the scent is actually coming in through sweat and usually comes out in the arm pits.  It can last for at least a week after fenugreek has been consumed.  The smell is occurring because fenugreek contains a compound known as solotone which passes through the body and smells like maple syrup!  Fenugreek is actually used in some imitation syrups and the aroma can be quite pungent.  Changing clothes frequently, exercising to release more sweat (and hydrating!) and using talcum powder are all some common “tricks” to help the odor.  Some women find that using a capsule or tincture vs using teas and whole fenugreek help with the scent as well.  Many a fenugreek user has found they become fond of the smell after a while.

Fenugreek should not be used during pregnancy as it can cause uterine contractions.  People with Fabaceae allergies (which include plants such as: soybeans, peanuts, and green peas) may be allergic to Fenugreek as well.  Anyone using medications that affect the blood sugar should consult a physician before use.

Note: TriLight Health employees are not licensed practitioners and cannot prescribe which products you should use. Our comments are educational. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, please see our pregnancy safe section. As with all our formulas, especially if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, please consult your healthcare practitioner before using products with any other medications. Our statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Our products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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8 Responses to Herb of the Day: Fenugreek

  1. Tammy says:

    This stuff works! Drank the tea when I was BF my last baby, and it helped!

  2. Janelle says:

    I didn’t realize that fenugreek was great for so many female issues, not just milk production!

  3. Regan says:

    I used fenugreek to help with milk supply but I didn’t realize it helps with digestion!

  4. Michelle Turner says:

    I relied heavily on Fenugreek to increase my milk supply after our youngest was born and had difficulty nursing.

  5. Ginny Tyler says:

    I used fenugreek with all 3 of my kiddos when I needed to get my supply up. I didn’t realize what caused that maple syrup smell though – what an informative article!

  6. Laura says:

    My cousin said she had to give up fenugreek tea b/c her “baby had a reaction to it.” I’ll mention the Fabaceae family to her as well, so she can avoid soy, etc in the baby’s diet and hopefully avoid more reactions!

  7. Kim F. says:

    I didn;’t know that the compound known as solotone in fenugreek is what makes you smell like maple syrup :)

  8. Bethina says:

    I didn’t know there were so many uses for Fenugreek. I’ll definitely keep it on hand after my little one is weaned.

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