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 does boost testosterone levels and should be taken in dosages between 500-600mg per day to be safe but still useful. However, it will be most effectively taken together with other supplements such as Magnesium and Zinc.
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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.
Fenugreek extract components do not alter testicular histology
Study: This study involves the use of certain chemical elements of fenugreek extract called as glycosides. The primary objective of this study was to understand the effect of fenugreek extract components on the reproductive organs and investigate any possible histological alterations caused by oral ingestion. Male Wistar rats were administered with 10 and 35mg fenugreek extract per Kg of body weight for four weeks. At the end of the study, the rats were sacrificed, and the testicular weight and histological sections were observed.
Result: Fenugreek glycoside fraction led to a marginal increase in the testicular weight and did not alter or damage or change the histology ( tissues) of the testes.
Conclusion: Fenugreek extract does not cause any histological changes in testicular tissue.
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
30 trained athletes enrolled for the research and consumed 500mg fenugreek extract per day for eight weeks. During the study, the athletes were muscle training every four days. At the end of the 8 week study, body composition was measured by hydrodensitometry and muscle strength by isotonic bench and leg press. Reduction in body fat was also recorded.
- 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
- The subjects reported an increase in lean muscle mass, muscle strength and reduction in body fat.
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
Fenugreek acts by inhibiting enzymes that break down testosterone
Study: Fenugreek is considered to possess aromatase and reductase inhibitor activities, the enzymes responsible for the breakdown of testosterone in the body. Authors took up this clinical investigation in three groups of healthy trained men for two, four and eight weeks. All the subjects orally consumed 500mg of fenugreek extract per day. At the end of study testosterone levels were estimated and body fat, muscle gain and strength was evaluated.
Result: Authors observed an increase in testosterone levels. A reduction in body fat was observed that is directly linked to improved androgenic activity.
Conclusion: Fenugreek extract improves testosterone levels by partially blocking the enzymes responsible for the breakdown of testosterone.
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.
The physiological effects of consuming fenugreek extract concerning the reproductive system include an increase in the levels of testosterone, luteinizing hormone, prolactin and testicular size in rats.
Fenugreek extract improves general immunity, vitality, libido, muscle strength and lean muscle mass. This extract can be safely used for increasing blood testosterone levels and can also be used along with other supplements as there are no reported cross-reactions.
The only known mechanism of action of fenugreek extract is via inhibiting the aromatase and reductase enzymes that bio converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. Hence, physiologically fenugreek acts by arresting the bioconversion of testosterone and it helps to maintain the healthy levels required for vital androgenic functions.
There are a few reports describing the active ingredients of the extract that are possibly responsible for the physiological effects of fenugreek. However, there is to date, no report with purified fractions that produce the same impact as the extract. The most plausible explanation to this is that fenugreek extract like all other natural plant extracts acts synergistically and all the components are essential for bioactivity.
Fenugreek extract/powder at a daily dose of 500mg per day can cause a multitude of health benefits like improved immunity, better digestive health, increased lactation in nursing mothers, increased vitality, reduction in body fat, improvement in body composition, increased muscle strength and enhanced reproductive function.
There are few reports on the antidiabetic properties of Fenugreek seed extract implicating its positive role in managing autoimmune disorders. Stacking fenugreek supplements with other mineral and vitamin supplements not only improves testosterone levels and muscle strength it also enhances general wellness.