I recently had a bit of info on Fenugreek brought to my attention via the Facebook page; so I decided to do a little digging. The “little digging”  turned into something a bit bigger…

Fenugreek has been utilized in a huge variety of uses ranging from spice 13434864_1137250566295899_3671941990239819618_n in foods/cooking to soaps, cosmetics, and medicine. There is evidence to suggest that Fenugreek may help lower blood glucose levels (Diabetes) and painful periods (dysmenorrhea). Fenugreek has also been touted to help nursing mothers increase milk supply, decrease high cholesterol, aid in weight loss, and much more.  Caution should be used when taking Fenugreek in combination with prescription medications; specifically Fenugreek may cause increased bleeding especially on patients using blood thinners and blood glucose lowering agents. 

 Yeah, yeah, that’s good and all but HOW is it related to Peanuts?

Fenugreek is a member of the Fabaceae family aka the PEA family.  Most of you may also consider this the LEGUME family.

Family Fabaceae – Pea family 

Genus Trigonella L. – fenugreek P
Species Trigonella foenum-graecum L. – sicklefruit fenugreek P

Other foods in this family include peanut, lupine (which is often used in Europe and Asia and has known cross reactivity with peanut allergy ), soy beans, green beans, chickpeas, licorice, and tamarind to name a few.  Use this link to discover the other plants in the Fabaceae family.

Ok, but I eat green beans and don’t have any problems; why would I worry about Fenugreek?

What we know for sure  based on a 2010 study published in J. Proteomics is that Fenugreek has similarities to the major allergens in peanuts.  In 2009, the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology published a study that concluded that there is “evidence for a high rate of cross reactivity to peanut.”  Other studies helping to establish a cross reactivity connection include this study from 2012.  I even found an article from 1998 detailing anaphylaxis to curry powder which often includes Fenugreek.

What I learned today

Fenugreek should definitely be on the peanut allergic person’s radar–be especially aware of Fenugreek in foods such as curry mixes and herbal/medicine formulations.

Speak with your allergist to determine whether you should avoid Fenugreek.