Fenugreek Allergy Test
Latin name: Trigonella foenum-graecum
Source material: Dried seeds
Common names: Fenugreek, Greek Hay, Greek Fennel, Bird’s Foot, Greek Hay-seed
Synonyms: T. foenumgraecum
Fenugreek is a food which may result in allergy symptoms in sensitised individuals.
Fenugreek Allergy Test: Allergen Exposure
Fenugreek has been cultivated by humans for as long as 6,000 years. Originating in the Middle East, it is now produced mostly in India, principally in Rajasthan. It is an annual plant belonging to the same family as beans, chickpeas, alfalfa and peanut.
It is grown for its seeds and leaves (making it both a herb and a spice), which are common ingredients in dishes from South and Central Asia.
The leaves are used in salads, as garnishes as well as flavouring stews and curries. Fenugreek is often included as an ingredient in spice mixes or pastes. An essential oil obtained from the seed is used as food flavouring in imitation maple syrup, vanilla compositions, liquorice, pickles, etc.
The seeds can be roasted and used as a substitute for coffee.
Fenugreek sprouts are also eaten as vegetables.
Research has shown that fenugreek seeds can inhibit cancer, lower blood cholesterol levels and have an antidiabetic effect, and they are also given to convalescents and to encourage weight gain, especially in cases of anorexia nervosa.
Fenugreek Allergy Test: Allergen Description
Several allergens present in fenugreek have been characterised, among them a vicilin-like globulin, an albumin, a globulin and a Bet v 1 homologue.
Fenugreek Allergy Test: Potential Cross-Reactivity
Extensive cross-reactivity between the different individual species of the genus could be expected, but in fact is not seen frequently. Clinical studies have found that there is little cross-reactivity between members of the legume (Fabaceae) family.
Fenugreek Allergy Test: Clinical Experience
Anecdotal evidence suggests that fenugreek may induce symptoms of food allergy in sensitised individuals; however, few studies have been reported to date. It is possible that the allergy occurs more frequently than has been reported.
Reactions may follow ingestion, inhalation or external application of fenugreek seed powder.
Two cases of immediate severe allergy to fenugreek have been described. In the first case, inhalation of the fenugreek seed powder resulted in rhinorrhea, wheezing and fainting.
The second case was of a patient with chronic asthma who developed numbness of the head, facial angioedema, and wheezing after application of fenugreek paste to her scalp as a treatment for dandruff.
Anaphylaxis to curry powder was described in a 26-year-old nurse who presented with bronchospasm. Her initial symptoms were generalised itching, diarrhoea and stridor which were reproduced 20 minutes later following an oral challenge of curry and rice. The causative allergens were narrowed down to cardamom and fenugreek.
Fenugreek has also been reported to result in occupational asthma.
The seed contains 1% saponins. Although poisonous, saponins are poorly absorbed by the human body, and so most pass through without harm. Only large amounts tend to be dangerous. Leaching or thorough cooking will remove most saponins.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, particularly aspirin, have the potential to interact with herbal supplements containing coumarin (e.g. fenugreek), resulting in bleeding or potentiation of the effects of warfarin therapy.