In keeping with my goal of providing “real” nutritional, supplementary or medical information, I was recently asked to comment on the pros and cons of Fenugreek.
Specifically, does Fenugreek effectively raise testosterone?
Anti-aging enthusiasts, body builders and athletes frequently seek “natural” ways to boost performance or even “tweak” hormone production.
With so many sites talking about Fenugreek (most of which are selling some version of it) I hope you will appreciate this quick informational post.
What is Fenugreek?
The herb fenugreek’s name means “ram’s horn clover.” Many cultures use it for culinary & medicinal purposes.
Reported benefits of Fenugreek:
- Boosting testosterone
- Improving digestion
- Enhancing breasts
- Improving lactation
- Lowing Cholesterol
- Lowering blood sugar
- Improving libido & sexual performance
Professionally, I’ve used the product to enhance lactation in new mothers struggling with breast feeding and for Fenugreek’s tendency to break up mucus during a cold. Fenugreek is an annual plant in the family Fabaceae. The plant has small round leaves, is cultivated worldwide as a semi-arid crop, and is a common ingredient in dishes from the Indian Subcontinent.
Fenugreek as a Testosterone Booster
Fenugreek has been reported by many to boost testosterone. Reviewing the topic from a clinical perspective I actually found scant evidence of quality information or studies actually detailing substantial elevations in testosterone.
Claims abound in a quick Google search. However, actual research supporting those claims is somewhat limited. Certainly quality information about actual “benefits” sexual performance, muscle building, anti-aging properties or even basic elevations in testosterone hormones are lacking.
I like the quote from http://herbs.lovetoknow.com/does-fenugreek-increase-testosterone
What you really need to know regarding fenugreek’s effects on testosterone is that there are almost no reputable studies that deal with this topic. In fact, the majority of the buzz involving the fenugreek and testosterone connection was generated by a Texas A&M professor, Richard Kreider, who has a background in fitness-related nutrition. Published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, such a study can neither prove nor disprove health claims. Unfortunately, aside from this single study, there is little else in the way of reputable research. Some anecdotal evidence demonstrates potential effects upon testosterone levels, but home studies and personal results are not the same as unbiased peer-reviewed research
Reviewing the study noted I agree with the above statement. While notably studies seem to show some increase in testosterone, we also see increases in other sex hormones such as estradiol. Some studies have also noted increases in Human Growth Hormone (HGH) as well. In addition, the increases in testosterone were rather modest (maybe a good thing) of about 6-12 %.
Clinically, I suspect based my experience treating patients and my review of current literature, fenugreek has a wide range of effects.
I have not seen dramatic hormonal effects with anyone taking Fenugreek.
Like many substances with steroid or hormonal activation tendencies, hormones do not change in a vacuum. All hormones are in flux with each other. For instance, raise testosterone….estradiol, DHEA, estrogen and other hormones levels will shift too. I think this is an important reason why hormone supplementation gathers so much controversy.
The human body likes balance or homeostasis. I witness this tendency for the body to “shift” hormones after supplementation when treating adrenal fatigue or post-menopausal symptoms. Frequently, due to chronic stress, progesterone levels go low which results in fatigue, hot flashing, and low libido. This shift occurs because the body “steals” a less necessary sex hormone (progesterone) to make a more necessary fight or flight hormone (cortisol). My point? Hormones can inter-convert based on current requirements to achieve balance. Hence, the reason studies don’t always show us a precise isolated testosterone raising effect.
My advice, Fenugreek is safe. It’s not a hormone and probably does have some influence over hormonal activity. I suspect it does NOT directly raise testosterone without affecting other hormones and will likely NOT produce androgenic benefits many desire.