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Fenugreek

Fenugreek is a plant supplemented for its libido enhancing and anti-diabetic effects.

Our evidence-based analysis on fenugreek features 92 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Fenugreek

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

Trigonella foenum-graecum, commonly known as fenugreek, is a popular herb in Arabic regions and India. It has traditionally been used to enhance libido and masculinity.

Fenugreek has also been used to alleviate blood sugar metabolism problems like diabetes.

Fenugreek tea has also been recommended to new mothers to enhance milk production. Though evidence for this claim is limited, it seems to be accurate. One human study has shown that fenugreek supplementation can also enhance testosterone, but since additional evidence shows conflicting results, further evidence is needed to confirm this effect.

Fenugreek’s most well-known compound is 4-hydroxyisoleucine, which works to normalize glucose metabolism. The other compounds, called trigonelline, galactomannan, and trigoneosides, also work together to provide benefits for blood sugar.

Supplementing fenugreek may cause body secretions, including urine, to smell like maple syrup. This is due to a metabolite called sotolon.

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How to Take

Medical Disclaimer

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

Fenugreek doses vary based on the goals of supplementation.

New mothers that want to increase breast milk production should aim for 500-1000mg of fenugreek. Men who want to increase testosterone or libido could consider taking between 500-600mg of a standardized fenugreek formulation, such as the commonly used product called ‘Testofen’. Testofen has 50% fenusides by weight.

Fenugreek seeds are very versatile. They can be eaten as seeds, brewed into a tea, made into flour and baked into bread, or pressed into oil. Eating seeds or using fenugreek flour is the most effective form of fenugreek for blood sugar control. An oral dose of 2-5g of fenugreek seeds can help blood glucose levels for diabetics.

In fenugreek trials, it is typically taken on a daily basis.

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Human Effect Matrix

Unlocked for Examine members

The Human Effect Matrix summarizes human studies to tell you what effects Fenugreek has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

Full details are available to Examine members.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-b - Low See all 4 studies
Variable effects on appetite, but it seems the fenugreek fibers (not commonly in supplements) may reduce appetite similar to most dietary fibers while the saponins (commonly supplemented) have no significant effect or a possible increase
grade-b - Low See all 3 studies
No consensus as to the influence of fenugreek on insulin levels
grade-b - High See all 3 studies
Although there is limited evidence to support an increase in testosterone, more evidence than not denies such an increase
grade-c Strong - See study
Increases in milk production have been noted in lactating women given fenugreek, and appears to be a fairly significant degree of improvement with the best trial conducted noting a doubling of milk production
grade-c Notable - See study
Increases in libido have been noted before, which is notable due to the lack of significant influence on testosterone and possible suppression of DHT (theoretically should reduce libido, yet a large increase is seen with fenugreek)
grade-c Minor Very High See all 3 studies
Appears to result in a decrease of blood glucose following ingestion of fenugreek
grade-c Minor Moderate See 2 studies
A decrease in DHT has been noted following consumption of fenugreek seeds in otherwise healthy men, but appears to be unreliable
grade-c Minor - See study
A lone study measuring fat mass in athletes given fenugreek noted a reduction in fat mass, which was not to a remarkable degree
grade-c Minor - See study
May improve glycemic control secondary to reduction in blood glucose, although this may be more indicative of fenugreek fibers than the saponin content
grade-c Minor Moderate See 2 studies
Mixed influence on glycogen resynthesis rates, but may have a possible benefit
grade-c Minor - See study
An increase in HDL-C has been associated with fenugreek ingestion
grade-c Minor - See study
An increase in insulin sensitivity has been noted with fenugreek ingestion
grade-c Minor - See study
May reduce triglyceride levels
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on cortisol levels following fenugreek ingestion
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influences detected on estrogen levels
grade-c - - See study
No demonstrated benefit to lean mass accrual in otherwise healthy trained men given a workout program
grade-c - - See study
No significant influences detected on circulating leptin levels with fenugreek
grade-c - - See study
No detectable interactions with fenugreek and prolactin levels
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on prostate specific antigen levels

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Things to Note

Primary Function:

Also Known As

Trigonella foecum-graecum, fenugreek seeds

Goes Well With

  • Fish oil (Suppressing after-meal glucose spikes)

Caution Notice

Fenugreek shows teratogenic potential when superloaded into pregnant rats, and is suspected of causing birth-defects in large doses. It would be prudent to avoid fenugreek supplementation during pregnancy, although it would be fine to use after birth as a galactogogue (milk producing agent); for which it shows efficacy.

  • Fenugreek may enhance libido, but is otherwise non-stimulatory

  • Has been used historically as a tea, and thus many active constituents may be water soluble. Fenugreek tea does show some insulin sensitizing activity.[1]

  • Due to the sweet aromatic sotolon, consuming large doses of fenugreek may give off a sweet scent to the urine

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Click here to see all 92 references.