Nature's Way Fenugreek Seed
180 capsules, certified 610 mg per capsule
In the typical desperation, panic, and frustration of a newly lactating mom, I tried everything humanly possible to increase my milk supply. Lactation massage, hot showers, hot compress, pumping every 2 hours (super draining!), 8 capsules of malunggay a day, etc, etc. By my son's third month, it seemed like I had tried 'em all, was out of new ideas, and was still making only a measly 2 to 3 oz. every pumping session. That's when my friend Elaine introduced Fenugreek to me. Lo and behold, my milk supply started to increase -- dramatically! At first, I took 1 capsule with every meal. Later on, when I was already making at least 8 oz. every session, I cut it down to 1 capsule a day, and still got very good results.
Now, Fenugreek is available in the Fridge to Go site -- at the same price but at almost double the volume and strength as the ones sold in local health food stores in Manila.
Nature's Way Fenugreek is featured in the breastfeedingonline.com website and is made by one of the most reputable supplement manufacturers in the United States.
For more information on Fenugreek, please refer to the articles below:
Fenugreek Seed for Increasing Milk Supply
By Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC
Effect on milk production
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) appears to be the herb that is most often used to increase milk supply. It is an excellent galactagogue, and has been used as such for centuries. In one study of ten women, "the use of fenugreek significantly increased volume of breastmilk" [Swafford 2000].
Mothers generally notice an increase in production 24-72 hours after starting the herb, but it can take two weeks for others to see a change.
Dosages of less than 6 capsules/day (approx 3500 mg/day) produce no effect in many women (*Note by Steph: This was not true for me. I did very well even on just 1 capsule a day). One way to determine if you're taking the correct dosage is to slowly increase the amount of fenugreek until your sweat and urine begin to smell like maple syrup. If you're having problems with any side effects, discontinue use and consider alternative methods of increasing milk supply.
Fenugreek can be used either short-term to boost milk supply or long-term to augment supply and/or pumping yields. There are no studies indicating problems with long-term usage. Per Kathleen Huggins "Most mothers have found that the herb can be discontinued once milk production is stimulated to an appropriate level. Adequate production is usually maintained as long as sufficient breast stimulation and emptying continues" [Huggins].
* 2-4 capsules, 3 times per day
* 6-12 capsules (total) per day
* ~1200-2400 mg, 3 times per day (3.5-7.3 grams/day)
* German Commission E recommends a daily intake of 6 grams
* 7-14 capsules (total) per day
Fenugreek is used to flavor artificial maple syrup, and is used as a common food ingredient (curries, chutneys, etc.) and traditional medicine in many parts of the world, including India, Greece, China, north Africa and the Middle East. It is a basic ingredient of curry powder (often used in Indian cooking) and the Five Spice mixtures (used in Asian cooking). It is also eaten as a salad and sprouted.
Fenugreek is considered safe for nursing moms when used in moderation and is on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's GRAS list (Generally Recognized As Safe). As with most medications and herbs, various side effects have been noted; see the side effects and safety information below.
Per Hale [Hale 2002], "The transfer of fenugreek into milk is unknown, but untoward effects have not been reported." Hale classifies it in Lactation Risk Category L3 (moderately safe).
Possible side effects and cautions
* Sweat and urine smells like maple syrup; milk and/or breastfed baby may smell like maple syrup.
* Occasionally causes loose stools, which go away when fenugreek is discontinued.
* Use of more than 100 grams of fenugreek seeds daily can cause intestinal distress and nausea (recommended dose is less than 8 grams per day).
* Repeated external applications can result in undesirable skin reactions [Wichtl 1994].
* Ingestion of fenugreek seeds or tea in infants or late-term pregnant women can lead to false diagnosis of maple syrup urine disease in the infant due to presence of sotolone in the urine. See [Korman 2001] and other studies on fenugreek and maple syrup urine smell.
Use with caution or avoid if you have a history of:
* Peanut or chickpea allergy: Fenugreek is in the same family with peanuts and chickpeas, and may cause an allergic reaction in moms who are allergic to these things. Two cases of fenugreek allergy have been reported in the literature. [Patil 1997, Ohnuma 1998, Lawrence 1999]
* Diabetes or hypoglycemia: Fenugreek reduces blood glucose levels, and in the few studies using it as a hypoglycemic, also reduces blood cholesterol. Dosages higher than the recommended one (given above) may result in hypoglycemia in some mothers [Heller]. If you're diabetic (IDDM), use fenugreek only if you have good control of your blood glucose levels. While taking this, closely monitor your fasting levels and post-prandial (after meals) levels. Mothers with hypoglycemia should also use fenugreek with caution. For more on fenugreek and glucose levels, see the references below.
* Asthma: Fenugreek is often cited as a natural remedy for asthma. However, inhalation of the powder can cause asthma and allergic symptoms. Some mothers have reported that it worsened their asthma symptoms. [Dugue 1993, Huggins, Lawrence 1999].
* Abnormal menstrual cycles: Fenugreek is considered to be an emmenagogue (promotes menstrual flow). Per [White], it may cause breakthrough menstrual bleeding; this source recommends using fenugreek with caution if you have a history of abnormal menstrual cycles.
* Migraines: Fenugreek is often cited as a natural remedy for migraines. However, [White] indicates that it may trigger a migraine and/or contribute to the duration and severity of a migraine.
* Blood pressure problems or heart disease: Fenugreek is commonly reported to lower blood pressure and LDL blood cholesterol levels. [White] indicates, however, that it may cause or contribute to hypertension (high blood pressure) - this source recommends avoiding this herb if you have a history of hypertension, or if there is a strong family history of hypertension or heart disease.
* Oral drugs or herbs taken at the same time as fenugreek may have delayed absorption due to the mucilage content of fenugreek. [Wichtl 1994]
* Glipizide and other antidiabetic drugs
Fenugreek reduces blood glucose levels and may enhance the effects of these drugs.
Fenugreek reduces blood glucose levels, so insulin dosage may need to be adjusted.
* Heparin, Warfarin and other anticoagulants
Ticlopidine and other platelet inhibitors
The fenugreek plant contains several coumarin compounds. Although studies have not shown any problems, it potentially could cause bleeding if combined with these types of drugs.
Fenugreek contains amine and has the potential to augment the effect of these drugs.
Drug Interaction References:
Fenugreek drug interactions from Healthnotes
Fenugreek drug interactions from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Fenugreek use during pregnancy
Medicinal doses of fenugreek, not the amounts used in curries, are considered a uterine stimulant. Fenugreek has been used to aid and induce labor [Dehlvi, Bingel 1991, IntelliHealth] and is considered to be an emmenagogue [Turner]. For this reason, fenugreek use is not recommended during pregnancy (particularly late pregnancy).
* Fenugreek is used as a morning sickness remedy in Chinese medicine. [Richmond]
* "Use only in moderation during pregnancy. A uterine stimulant in high doses, but quite safe as a culinary herb or during labour." [Ody 1999]
* Motherlove Herbal lists fenugreek as a cleansing herb which is "too strong or irritating" to be used during pregnancy. [Motherlove]
* One study effectively used fenugreek as a source of fiber to control blood glucose and lipid levels of pregnant diabetic women. [Madar 1987]
* "A stimulant effect on the isolated uterus (guinea pig) has been reported and its use in late pregnancy may not be advisable." [Hale 2002]
* "Water and alcohol extracts of fenugreek are oxytocic. They stimulate contraction of uterine smooth muscles during the last period of pregnancy according to studies on isolated guinea pig uterus tissue." [Willard 1991]
* "Fenugreek exerts an oxytocic effect in guinea pigs. Its use in humans has not been sufficiently studied, but could potentially lead to SAB or preterm labor and prematurity secondary to its oxytocic effects. Its use in pregnancy is not recommended." [Rice]
* Not recommended during pregnancy. [CommE, Brinker 1998, McGuffin 1997, MHO]
Possible side effects for baby
Most of the time, baby is unaffected by mom's use of fenugreek (except that more milk is usually available). Sometimes baby will smell like maple syrup, too (just like mom). However, some moms have noticed that baby is fussy and/or has green, watery stools when mom is taking fenugreek and the symptoms go away when mom discontinues the fenugreek.
Fenugreek can cause GI symptoms in mom (upset stomach, diarrhea), so it's possible for it to cause GI symptoms in baby too. Also anyone can have an allergic reaction to any herb, and fenugreek allergy, though rare, has been documented.
Another reason for these types of symptoms --and perhaps more likely than a reaction to the herb-- may be that mom's supply has increased due to the fenugreek and the symptoms are those of oversupply, where baby is getting too much foremilk. Fussiness, gas and green watery stools are classic symptoms of an overabundant milk supply.
Some things to try:
* Try a different herb. This should help if baby is reacting to the fenugreek in mom's milk.
* Stop the fenugreek (without switching to another herb). If you are taking fenugreek for low supply, and are having problems with oversupply when taking this herb, it may be questionable whether you needed to increase supply in the first place.
If you are deliberately trying to maintain an oversupply (such as when you're pumping part/all of the time rather than nursing directly), then you might also try the following things:
Cut back on the fenugreek dosage to see if baby's symptoms disappear.
Take measures to remedy the oversupply (help baby get more hindmilk) by doing things such as keeping baby to only one breast for up to 2-3 hours.
Written by : Cindy Curtis, RNC,IBCLC,CCE,CD
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum). Fenugreek seed has been used to increase milk production since biblical times. The herb contains phytoestrogens, which are plant chemicals similar to the female sex hormone estrogen. A key compound, diosgenin, has been shown experimentally to increase milk flow.(0)
What is Fenugreek?
Fenugreek, Trigonella foenum-graecum L., is an erect annual herb native to southern Europe and Asia. Undoubtedly one of the oldest cultivated medicinal plants, fenugreek is widely grown today in the Mediterranean countries, Argentina, France, India, North Africa, and the United States as a food, condiment, medicinal, dye, and forage plant (11.1-128). The plant reaches a height of 0.3 to 0.8 meters and has trifoliate leaves. White flowers appear in early summer and develop into long, slender, yellow-brown pods containing the brown seeds of fenugreek commerce. (1)
Fenugreek and Breastfeeding
Fenugreek seeds contain hormone precursors that increase milk supply. Scientists do not know for sure how this happens. Some believe it is possible because breasts are modified sweat glands, and fenugreek stimulates sweat production. It has been found that fenugreek can increase a nursing mother's milk supply within 24 to 72 hours after first taking the herb. Once an adequate level of milk production is reached, most women can discontinue the fenugreek and maintain the milk supply with adequate breast stimulation. Many women today take fenugreek in a pill form (ground seeds placed in capsules). The pills can be found at most vitamin and nutrition stores and at many supermarkets and natural foods stores. Fenugreek can also be taken in tea form, although tea is believed to be less potent than the pills and the tea comes with a bitter taste that can be hard to stomach. Fenugreek is not right for everyone. The herb has caused aggravated asthma symptoms in some women and has lowered blood glucose levels in some women with diabetes.
How Much do I Need to Take?
Fenugreek Capsule Form (580-610 mg)
2-4 capsules, 3 times per day --- 6-12 capsules (total) per day
1200-2400 mg, 3 times per day (3.5-7.3 grams/day) (3)
German Commission E recommends a daily intake of 6 grams (4)
I recommend that you only purchase Fenugreek from a reputable Herbal store, the quality is generally superior to that found in chain discount stores.
Fenugreek is considered safe for nursing moms when used in moderation and is on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's GRAS list (Generally Recognized As Safe). As with most medications and herbs, various side effects have been noted; see the potential side effects and safety information below. (8)
Per Thomas Hale PhD, Medications and Mothers Milk 2006 ,"The transfer of fenugreek into milk is unknown, but untoward effects have not been reported." Hale classifies it in Lactation Risk Category L3 (moderately safe). (9)
Potential Side Effects
* Sweat and urine smells like maple syrup (this is common and often a sign that you have reached the right dose)
* Loose stools in some women, which go away when fenugreek is discontinued
* Hypoglycemia in some mothers
* Can cause uterine contractions - do NOT use if you're pregnant
* Diabetic mothers should use caution with fenugreek since it can cause lowering of blood glucose levels. (5)
Little Known Uses
Fenugreek has an age old reputation as a breast enlarger and contains diosgenin which is used to make synthetic estrogen and has been shown to promote the growth of breast cells. You can drink fenugreek as a tea, use it in yogurt, applesauce or soups, or make a light mixture with any lotion and massage it directly into the breasts. It may also aid in increasing sexual desire in women as well as increasing breast beauty and health. Fenugreek contains choline which may aid the thinking process, and antioxidants that slow aging and help prevent disease. It is also helpful in calming PMS and symptoms of menopause. Fenugreek is also considered to be an aphrodiasiac and rejuvenator. (6)
Active Constituents and Proposed Mechanism of Action
The steroidal saponins account for many of the beneficial effects of fenugreek, particularly the inhibition of cholesterol absorption and synthesis.2 The seeds are rich in dietary fiber, which may be the main reason they can lower blood sugar levels in diabetes.3 One human study found that fenugreek can help lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels in persons with moderate atherosclerosis and non-insulin-dependent diabetes.4 Randomized and uncontrolled studies have confirmed fenugreek helps stabilize blood sugar control in patients with insulin-dependent and non-insulin-dependent diabetes.5 6 7 It helps lower elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood,8 including in those with diabetes,9 according to several controlled studies. Generally fenugreek does not lower high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. This type of cholesterol is believed to be beneficial. (7)
Fenugreek seeds contain alkaloids (mainly trigonelline) and protein high in lysine and L-tryptophan. Its steroidal saponins (diosgenin, yamogenin, tigogenin, and neotigogenin) and mucilaginous fiber are thought to account for many of the beneficial effects of fenugreek. The steroidal saponins are thought to inhibit cholesterol absorption and synthesis,2 while the fiber may help lower blood sugar levels.3 One human study found that fenugreek can help lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels in people with moderate atherosclerosis and non-insulin-dependent (type 2) diabetes.4 Preliminary and double-blind trials have found that fenugreek helps improve blood sugar control in patients with insulin-dependent (type 1) and non-insulin-dependent (type 2) diabetes.5 6 7 Double-blind trials have shown that fenugreek lowers elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood,8 9 This has also been found in a controlled clinical trial with diabetic patients with elevated cholesterol.10 Generally, fenugreek does not lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. (10)
*Note by Steph: You may be surprised as to why I would include the side effects and precautions in this article -- well, I always believe in full disclosure. An informed customer is a happy customer and I want everyone to be able to make the best personal choice in increasing milk supply. I, along with my friend Elaine and the countless Fridge to Go customers and friends who have tried Fenugreek, have never encountered any negative effects from taking it, which is why I have always endorsed its use.
With warm regards,
p.s. The seller will not be held responsible for any side effects experienced with the use of Fenugreek.