Research Article: Investigating the effectiveness of the Trigonella foenum-graecum L. (fenugreek) seeds in mild asthma: a randomized controlled trial

Date Published: May 2, 2018

Publisher: BioMed Central

Author(s): Majid Emtiazy, Laleh Oveidzadeh, Minoo Habibi, Leila Molaeipour, Daryush Talei, Zahra jafari, Mahmoud Parvin, Mohammad Kamalinejad.


Asthma is one of the important chronic diseases. The asthma prevalence is increasing in last decades. Despite the presence of good controller drugs like corticosteroids, about 60% of asthmatic patients use alternative medicine. This study was done to determine the effectiveness of Tregonella foenum graceum (fenugreek) seeds in mild asthma.

It is a double blind trial with placebo effect. One of the ancient prescriptions from Persian Medicine was selected. The participants were divided to three groups randomly. On group received fenugreek syrup one received honey syrup and the third received placebo. Duration of treatment was 4 weeks. Quality of life, Lung function tests and IL-4 levels were evaluated before and after treatment.

From 90 participants to study 79 completed the process. After study there was significant increase in quality of the life and lung function tests and IL-4 levels in fenugreek and honey groups.

FEV1 level was improved more than 10% in fenugreek group. Treatment was well tolerated. No serious side effects were reported during the study. The aqueous extract of fenugreek seeds appears to be effective and safe in treatment of mild asthma.

The online version of this article (10.1186/s13223-018-0238-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Partial Text

Asthma is characterized by variable degrees of airway obstruction. This obstruction is usually reversible and leads to symptoms of dyspnea and wheezing. The increasing prevalence of asthma has led to high costs and burden of disease for the general population and government. More than 300 million people worldwide have asthma [1, 2]. Asthma is affecting 18.9 million adults only in USA [3]. The reported prevalence in Iran varies from 5 to 15% [4].

This study is a preliminary investigation of the efficacy and safety of T. foenum-graecum (fenugreek) seed extract as add-on treatment in mild asthma. The fenugreek syrup was prepared in honey solution as TPM formula. The aqueous extract of fenugreek seeds improved the lung function tests and Quality of Life in patients with mild asthma significantly in compare with honey and placebo syrup. The use of fenugreek seed extract led to a 10% increase in FEV1 and FEV1/FVC levels, in addition to a significant decrease in serum cytokine IL-4 levels.

Despite the demonstration of effectiveness of fenugreek seeds in mild asthma treatment, this study also had some limitations. An important limitation was the small sample size. A short duration of follow-up is another limitation; longer studies could reveal more side effects or even more efficacy of fenugreek in asthma treatment. Another limitation was the need to prepare syrups with the same color, taste, and smell; however, the pharmaceutical worker did his best to achieve similarity.




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