Fenugreek (Botanical name: Trigonella foenum-graecum) derives its name from the Latin wordfaenugraecum, which translates to “Greek Hay”. The use of Fenugreek can be dated back to the Bronze Age (around 4000 BC). In fact, Fenugreek seeds were found in the tombs of ancient Egyptian pharaohs including that of Tutankhamen.
It is widely grown in Asian and Mediterranean countries including India, Pakistan, France, Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, Afghanistan and others.
Fenugreek as a medicinal herb
Fenugreek seeds contain 45 percent dietary fibre, plant sugars, vitamins and minerals. It is known for its anti-inflammatory, aphrodisiac, anti-diabetic, antibiotic and antioxidant properties. Fenugreek seed extract is commonly used to improve digestion, treat stomach problems and even increase lactation.
Currently, it is generating a lot of interest for its potential testosterone increasing and libido stimulating qualities. Fenugreek is a widely used men’s health supplement, but the question is whether it really increases testosterone or it’s mere hype?
How does Fenugreek work on Testosterone?
It is believed that Fenugreek affects testosterone levels in two ways:
- By acting as an aromatase inhibitor: Fenugreek, with its bioactivity helps keep estrogen levels low in men. This, in turn, frees up more testosterone.
- By blocking 5-alpha-reductase: 5-alpha-reductasecoverts Testosterone into Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). By blocking it, Fenugreek can help sustain Testosterone levels. However, it is noteworthy that DHT is more potent than testosterone and performs powerful androgenic actions. Inhibiting its production may be counterproductive.
Fenugreek is also known to boost physical endurance and has muscle-building potential. It has properties that can help post workout recovery and fat burning.
What does research say?
You will find Fenugreek in most testosterone boosters available in the market. So, it would be of interest to see if there is any scientific evidence to substantiate its efficacy.
Several studies, both on animals and humans have been conducted to study the efficacy of fenugreek in increasing testosterone levels. However, it is important to note that most of these studies have been funded by private companies and were done on particular brands of fenugreek supplements. Let us take a look at what these studies found.
Rat growth-hormone release stimulators from fenugreek seeds
The first ever research tested in vitro the efficacy of Fenugreek seed extract in stimulating growth hormone release in rats. The research revealed that there were a few compounds present in the extract that were capable of stimulating release of the growth hormone. It was revealed that one of the compounds caused a 12.5 fold stimulation of release and the other 17.7 from the rats’ pituitary glands.
Effects of Fenugreek seeds extract on Endurance capacity in mice
This particular study found that when rats were fed 300 mg/kg Fenugreek seeds extract, they took longer to get exhausted. It also showed decreased fat accumulation and increased plasma non-esterified fatty acid. The study concluded that Fenugreek caused an improvement in swimming endurance by increasing utilization of fatty acids as a source of energy.
On the basis of these two animal studies, it can be concluded that:
- Fenugreek may help muscle growth by increasing growth hormone levels
- It may improve endurance via fat metabolism.
While animal studies have shown promising results, whether or not the results can be extrapolated to humans remains a question. Thankfully, some human studies have also been conducted to establish the efficacy of Fenugreek as a testosterone booster. Here is what these studies found.
The effects of a commercially available botanical supplement on strength, body composition, power output, and hormonal profiles in resistance-trained males
The study was conducted on forty five resistance trained men. They were administered either 500mg of Fenugreek or placebo. The study revealed the following facts:
- No changes in the metabolic hormones cortisol, insulin or leptin.
- No significant effects were observed for the anabolic hormones estrogen and testosterone.
- Decrease in serum dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
- Significant impact on lower and upper body strength
Effects of a Purported Aromatase and 5 α-Reductase Inhibitor on Hormone Profiles in College-Age Men
Thirty resistance-trained males were either given 500 mg of Fenugreek seed extract or placebo. The subjects also participated in resistance training during the course of the study. The researchers observed:
- Significant increase in total testosterone (6.57 percent) and bioavailable testosterone (12.26 percent).
- No increase in DHT and estradiol, which means, fenugreek incompletely inhibits 5α-reductase and aromatase activity
Physiological Aspects of Male Libido Enhanced by Standardized Trigonella foenum‐graecum Extract and Mineral Formulation
This is the most recent study conducted on the subject. It was carried out in Centre for Integrative Clinical and Molecular Medicine. For the purpose of study, 60 men in the age group of 25-52 were administered fenugreek extract twice daily for six weeks. The results were:
- Overall positive effect on physiological aspects of sexual drive or libido
- Testosterone and Serum prolactin levels remained within the reference range
Is Fenugreek really a testosterone booster?
Despite all the research, we still don’t have concrete evidence in support of Fenugreek’s efficacy as Testosterone booster. However, it does help in reducing fat, increasing upper and lower body strength, improving lean muscle mass and enhancing libido. So, its presence in men’s health supplements is fairly justified. The fact that Fenugreek is regularly consumed by millions of people across the Asian continent shows that it is completely harmless. The side effects are rare and often a result of overuse or misuse.