Last update: April 10, 2019
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.
Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM´s pediatricians and pharmacists, and are based on updated scientific publications.
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