Fenugreek is a popular herbal extract traditionally used for cooking and recently prized for its ability to naturally raise testosterone levels. But does fenugreek actually work as promised? Or is it just another overhyped, under-powered product? Let’s find out.
What is Fenugreek?
Fenugreek is an herb that grows naturally throughout Asia and southern Europe. The leaves and seeds of Fenugreek – also known as methi – are traditionally used in Indian cooking in curries, chutneys, and pickles. The leaves have a strong aroma and a bitter taste but are packed with nutrients.
Some of those nutrients include vitamin C, folic acid, iron, potassium, and alkaloids.
Today, many people grow fenugreek in their own homes. Or, you can buy fenugreek as part of many popular nutritional supplements, where it’s prized for its ability to naturally raise testosterone levels.
Uses for Fenugreek
Fenugreek is also rich in fiber, which is why it’s a common ingredient in many weight loss supplements.
In terms of health effects, fenugreek is often used to treat both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Daily doses of fenugreek have been linked to small decreases in blood sugar levels as well as healthier cholesterol levels.
Fenugreek’s high mucilage content can also be used to battle digestive orders like indigestion, stomach ulcers, and diarrhea.
There’s also some evidence that fenugreek can improve hormonal balance in men and women. In men, it may be able to modestly raise testosterone levels. In women, it can boost milk production in lactating mothers. Some women also take fenugreek as a natural treatment for PMS, where it can help to ease abdominal cramping.
In Indian dishes, fenugreek seeds are often added to relieve constipation, fever, high cholesterol, and other problems.
How to Use Fenugreek Seeds
If you’re using fenugreek in your cooking or extracting its health benefits, then you’re most likely going to be using fenugreek seeds.
Fenugreek seeds are small, rectangular green seeds produced from the fenugreek plant. When you see fenugreek used in Indian cooking, it typically refers to the fenugreek seeds.
You can also add fenugreek seeds to your diet in several other ways, including:
— Boiling fenugreek seeds to make a green tea
– -Add the seeds to dry fruits and laddoos
— Add fenugreek seeds to kadhis, sabjis, and pickles to enhance their flavor
– -Add sprouted fenugreek seeds to salads and rice as a flavoring and nutritional booster
You can also apply fenugreek seed paste to your skin and hair topically. Applying this paste topically can boost your skin and hair health.
For example, some people will make a paste of methi seeds and apply it to their hair. Leave it for 30 minutes, then wash your hair using a mild shampoo. It’s a popular home remedy for hair loss.
Alternatively, you can apply the methi seed paste directly to your skin to reduce the appearance of pimples and acne scarring.
To make this paste, boil a few seeds of fenugreek in water and then allow it to cool. Strain the seeds and then use a cotton ball to apply the liquid onto your acne scars. Apply this daily for one week and you should start to notice a diminished appearance of scars.
How to Use Fenugreek Leaves
Fenugreek leaves have also been linked to powerful health benefits. Fenugreek leaves, for example, can soothe digestive problems and treat symptoms of menopause.
There’s also some evidence that fenugreek leaves can reduce the levels of oxidative stress caused by diabetes. That’s because fenugreek leaves have powerful antioxidant compounds that reduce inflammation and swelling throughout your body.
In addition to treating the oxidative stress linked to diabetes, the antioxidant properties in fenugreek leaves can reduce chronic inflammation throughout the body. As you may know, chronic inflammation is an enormous source of disease. Fenugreek leaves might reduce the swelling associated with heart disease along with joint pain, dementia, and a wide range of other diseases caused by inflammation.
Two of the most popular ways to use fenugreek leaves include:
— Adding the leaves directly to dishes like roti or other bowl dishes
— Using the leaves to make green juice or green smoothies
Just like with fenugreek seeds, you can also use fenugreek leaves on your hair and skin. Typically, fenugreek leaves are used more as a conditioner than as a hair loss remedy.
Using fenugreek leaves as a conditioner works because the leaves are rich in proteins and vitamins, which means they help stimulate hair growth. By making a paste out of fenugreek leaves and applying those leaves to your hair and scalp, you can moisturize your hair and reduce dandruff. Leave the paste for 40 minutes and then rinse it off with cool water. Apply it once or twice a week.
You can use the fenugreek leaves as a topical acne treatment as well. Typically, you grind the methi leaves then add some water to make a paste. Apply it to your face at night, then wash it the next morning with lukewarm water. It works best on acne-prone skin as a preventative measure – not as a treatment method.
How to Use Fenugreek Powder
Fenugreek powder comes from grinding fenugreek seeds. The power is typically used as a spice. When added to foods, it has anti-diabetic properties and has been shown to control glucose metabolism.
Fenugreek powder is also prized for its ability to treat allergies and congestion. There’s also some evidence that fenugreek powder can help treat gastrointestinal problems, digestive issues, and liver problems.
Some people will also use fenugreek powder to reduce blemishes. Just like with fenugreek seeds and leaves, fenugreek powder can be mixed with a few drops of water to make a smooth paste.
Apply that paste to your skin and leave it for 15 minutes, then gently pat it away using a clean cotton ball. Like with all home acne remedies, the effects won’t be immediately noticeable. However, when applied on a regular basis over a long period of time, this can have a significant impact on the health of your skin.
Fenugreek and Testosterone
Fenugreek is primarily used as a cooking agent or as a topical remedy for hair and skin issues.
But in recent years, fenugreek has exploded onto the natural testosterone booster market, where nutritional supplement manufacturers frequently release testosterone boosting supplements containing fenugreek. These supplements promise enormous muscle gains with none of the side effects associated with anabolic steroids.
Is any of this true? Can a small seed extract really skyrocket your testosterone levels? Here’s what we know about fenugreek and testosterone.
First, fenugreek is also known as Ram’s Horn Clover. As that sexually suggestive name suggests, it was traditionally used for more than just cooking agents. It was also used traditionally as an aphrodisiac.
The fenugreek used to raise testosterone levels typically consists of fenugreek seed extract. That extract contains active ingredient called fenusides, which are a type of glucoside known to stimulate male sex hormones (also known as androgens).
Ultimately, this glucoside then raises testosterone production, which in turn increases muscle mass while also enhancing energy and sexual performance.
Of course, just because fenugreek raises testosterone levels doesn’t necessarily mean that raise is significant.
In certain tests, fenugreek has been shown to raise libido. However, it’s otherwise classified as non-stimulatory.
Typically, men take 500 to 600mg of a standardized fenugreek formula. A good fenugreek formula will have 50% fenusides content by weight.
Scientific Evidence for Fenugreek and Testosterone
Examine.com lists three high-quality studies connecting fenugreek with testosterone. That site cautions that the evidence is limited. However, two of the studies indicated a favorable increase in testosterone or libido measurements, while the third study indicated no change compared to a placebo.
2010 Study Involving 30 College-Age Males Shows Increased Testosterone Levels
In one study, 30 college-age males received 500mg of fenugreek supplement daily. Researchers noticed increased testosterone and bioavailable testosterone levels, although estrogen and DHT levels were not affected.
Participants did not experience a change in body mass, although they did experience a decrease in body fat (with no increase in lean muscle mass).
All participants in this study were instructed to take their fenugreek supplement prior to workouts and were deemed to be in trained athletic shape.
Read more about this study here.
2011 Study Involving 60 Overweight Males Between Ages 18 and 64 Shows Positive Effects on Libido
In this study, researchers told participants to take 600mg of the proprietary blend “Testofen”, which is 50% fenugreek extract. Then, researchers measured the participants’ increases in arousal and libido.
Researchers noticed no increase on hormone levels or testosterone levels, although there “was a significant increase in the subdomains of sexual arousal and orgasm.” Testofen users also reported a positive impact on their quality of life, satisfaction with muscle strength, and overall energy and wellbeing.
Researchers ultimately concluded this study by stating that “Testofen demonstrated a significant positive effect on physiological aspects of libido and may assist to maintain normal healthy testosterone levels.”
2009 Study Shows Fenugreek Shows No Effect on Hormonal Status of Resistance-Trained Males
One of the most damning studies on fenugreek was published in 2009. That study involved 45 resistance-trained males and was a double-blind study. Half the group took a 500mg placebo, while the other half took 500mg of fenugreek extract.
The group that took the fenugreek extract actually experienced a decrease in DHT levels compared to the placebo. However, other anabolic and metabolic hormone analyses were not affected in either group.
Researchers concluded that:
“supplementation of fenugreek extract does not appear to affect hormonal status in resistance trained males and shows no anabolic potential as has been purported.”
Researchers specifically mentioned that dietary supplements frequently marketed themselves as fenugreek testosterone boosters, “despite no substantiated claims in human research models”.
In other words, researchers in this study found no evidence to support fenugreek’s claims of being a powerful testosterone booster.
Ultimately, fenugreek needs more human studies before it can be definitively declared to be a testosterone booster. At this point, its results are best described as “mixed”.