Side Effect of Fenugreek Consumption

Side Effect of Fenugreek Consumption
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Fenugreek seeds may protect against cancer and improve muscle mass, but they can make your armpits smell like maple syrup.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Cancer prevention is all well and good, but there is a side effect of fenugreek seed consumption—it makes your armpits smell like maple syrup. “Analysis of human male armpit sweat after fenugreek ingestion.” And yes, it happens to women, too.

“In this study, the strong ‘maple-syrup’ odour which appears after fenugreek ingestion was investigated.” They had men plaster some gauze pads under their armpits before and after eating a tablespoon of fenugreek seeds. Sweat was collected over a 24-hour period, and given to a panel of eight odor assessors to get their take. They described what they smelled as cocoa, roast beef, carrots, spicy, gravy, but then, honey, rose and lilac, peach-like, raspberry. I guess it could be worse.

There was one assessor who described one of the fenugreek odor compounds as “[m]usty, sweet, onion, socks.” Another agreed, but thought it more like “[f]ruity, floral, socks.” Of course, there was the boring assessor who was like, uh, smells like fenugreek.

This is a harmless phenomenon; the only reason I bring it up is that there is actually a serious congenital disorder called maple syrup urine disease: branched-chain ketoaciduria. It’s completely unrelated, but breastfeeding infants, with moms using fenugreek to boost their milk production, may be misdiagnosed.

So, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, and eating fenugreek, make sure to tell your OB, just so they don’t worry.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to Dvortygirl via Wikimedia

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Cancer prevention is all well and good, but there is a side effect of fenugreek seed consumption—it makes your armpits smell like maple syrup. “Analysis of human male armpit sweat after fenugreek ingestion.” And yes, it happens to women, too.

“In this study, the strong ‘maple-syrup’ odour which appears after fenugreek ingestion was investigated.” They had men plaster some gauze pads under their armpits before and after eating a tablespoon of fenugreek seeds. Sweat was collected over a 24-hour period, and given to a panel of eight odor assessors to get their take. They described what they smelled as cocoa, roast beef, carrots, spicy, gravy, but then, honey, rose and lilac, peach-like, raspberry. I guess it could be worse.

There was one assessor who described one of the fenugreek odor compounds as “[m]usty, sweet, onion, socks.” Another agreed, but thought it more like “[f]ruity, floral, socks.” Of course, there was the boring assessor who was like, uh, smells like fenugreek.

This is a harmless phenomenon; the only reason I bring it up is that there is actually a serious congenital disorder called maple syrup urine disease: branched-chain ketoaciduria. It’s completely unrelated, but breastfeeding infants, with moms using fenugreek to boost their milk production, may be misdiagnosed.

So, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, and eating fenugreek, make sure to tell your OB, just so they don’t worry.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to Dvortygirl via Wikimedia

Nota del Doctor

Make sure you see the “prequel” to this video, Benefits of Fenugreek Seeds. What happens to the armpit odor of those embracing entire diets full of plants? See Body Odor & Diet. Then, check out Asparagus Pee for another funky odor video. Fenugreek is certainly something I’ve been trying to incorporate more into my family’s diet, based on all this amazing new data. It’s strong stuff, though! I’d be interested to hear any tips on how folks have been able to sneak it into their diets. I make these mean, chia seed-encrusted, dried mangoes that I sprinkle with fenugreek powder using the mix-a-yummy-with-a-yucky technique of adding less-than-delicious things to one’s diet (like putting amla in smoothies). I find home-dried mangos so yummy, I figure I could rub them with almost anything!

For further context, check out my associated blog post: Increasing Muscle Strength with Fenugreek.

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